There are lots of rules when it comes to our super system. But not every rule applies to you at every age, so it’s worth figuring out which ones have an impact on your age group.
The rules at different ages govern how much and when you can contribute to super, when you can get your hands on your savings, and how much tax you will pay. These are designed to ensure super is used for its intended purpose – for retirement income – in exchange for the generous tax benefits offered as part of Australia’s super system.
To make things a bit easier to understand, here’s SuperGuide’s simple explainer of the super rules applying in your golden years.
Super rules if you’re aged 70 plus
Once you turn 70, you are nearly at the end of your eligibility to make contributions into your super account, although you now have a couple of extra years for making last minute contributions.
Between age 70 and 74, you’re still free to make most types of contributions (salary sacrifice, non-concessional and downsizer) into your super account without needing to meet the requirements of a work test.
Unfortunately, if you want to make personal tax-deductible contributions you do need to meet the work test.
Once you reach age 75, the only contributions still permitted to be made into your super account are employer SG, mandated non-SG and downsizer contributions. (There is a little wiggle room in the rules, however, as you can still make contributions up to 28 days after the end of the month in which you turn 75.)
1. Contributing to super
Superannuation Guarantee (SG)
If you’re aged over 70, your employer must still pay SG contributions on your behalf into your super account. The SG contribution rate is currently legislated to increase incrementally each year until it reaches 12% in July 2025.
If you meet the eligibility conditions, SG contributions are payable regardless of your age or whether you are classed as working full time, part time or as a casual, or if you are a temporary resident.
If you are a contractor paid ‘wholly or principally for labour’, you may be considered an employee for super purposes and entitled to SG payments.
Your employer is not required to make SG contributions on your behalf if you don’t meet the SG eligibility conditions.
Super fund stapling
From 1 November 2021, if you start a new job you must inform your employer about the super fund you would like them to make regular SG contributions into on your behalf.
If you don’t advise your employer of your choice of super fund, they must check with the ATO to see if you have any existing super fund accounts into which they can make their SG contributions. This existing super fund account is called your stapled account, as it is linked to you and follows you as you change jobs.
Stapling is designed to stop new super accounts being opened every time you change employer, so you don’t end up paying multiple account fees. You are free to change your stapled account at any time by providing your employer with the details of your new super fund.
Even though you are in your 70s, there are still annual limits or caps on the amount of money you and your employer can contribute into your super.
From 1 July 2021, the annual general concessional (before-tax) contributions cap is $27,500 for everyone, regardless of their age.
Some people may have a higher annual concessional contributions cap for a particular year. From 1 July 2018, you can also make carry-forward concessional contributions if you qualify. Carry-forward contributions allow you to use any of your unused annual concessional contributions cap for up to five years to make a larger concessional contribution.
From 1 July 2021, the annual general non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap is $110,000. Your personal non-concessional contributions cap may be different depending on how much you already have in the super system.
Giving your super a last-minute boost with a big contribution can be a smart move and you are now able to do that until you turn 75. (Technically you can do it until 28 days after the month in which you turn age 75, by why wait until then?)
Using the bring-forward rule, you can contribute up to $330,000 ($110,000 x 3 years = $330,000) in a single year. The actual amount you may be able to contribute depends on your current Total Superannuation Balance (TSB).
Once you reach age 75, you are not permitted to use a bring-forward arrangement to make a large super contribution in a single year.
Until 30 June 2022, once you reached age 67, you needed to meet the requirements of the work test (or work test exemption) if you wanted to make non-concessional, spouse, salary-sacrifice and personal tax-deductible super contributions.
From 1 July 2022, the work test requirement has been abolished for non-concessional, spouse and salary-sacrifice contributions if you are aged between 67 and 75.
If you’re making personal tax-deductible super contributions, the ATO still requires you to meet the work test for your contributions to be considered valid tax deductions.
Under the conditions of the work test, you need to be ‘gainfully employed’ for at least 40 hours in 30 consecutive days during the financial year in which you wish to make your tax-deductible super contribution.
Once you reach age 75, you can no longer make salary-sacrifice, non-concessional or personal tax-deductible super contributions into your super account – regardless of whether you meet the work test requirements.
Personal (or voluntary) tax-deductible super contributions
If you’re in your early 70s and have spare cash available, it may be worth making a personal voluntary contribution into your super account and claiming a tax deduction for it.
Learn about tax-deductible super contributions.
Between 67 and 75, you are eligible to make tax-deductible super contributions and claim a deduction provided you can meet the work test requirement. (See work test section above.)
Once you reach age 75, you are generally no longer eligible to make personal tax-deductible contributions into your super account. You can only claim a tax deduction for personal contributions made up to 28 days after the month in which you turned 75.
A useful tool for getting money into super when you’re 70 and over can be downsizer contributions, which have no work test requirement or upper age limit.
Making a downsizer contribution involves selling your home and contributing up to $300,000 into your super ($600,000 for a couple), if you meet all the eligibility rules. These contributions are not counted towards your annual non-concessional contributions cap.
2. Withdrawing your super
Getting your money
In your 70s, you can take your super benefit whenever you want and continue working. That’s because you have passed your preservation age and have met a condition of release to access your super benefit, namely, turning 65.
Paying tax on your super
If you are aged 70 or over, most people can take their super benefit free of any tax (apart from members of untaxed funds).
Taking a super pension
If you decide to start a super pension, you must withdraw a minimum amount from your pension each financial year. This minimum amount is based on your age and is set by the government.