Early access to superannuation
The government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
While superannuation helps people save for retirement the government recognises that for those significantly financially affected by the Coronavirus accessing some of their superannuation today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.
Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov from 20 April 2020 to apply for up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.
To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:
- you are unemployed
- you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
- on or after 1 January 2020:
- you were retrenched/your role was made redundant; or
- your working hours were reduced by 20% or more; or
- if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
To be eligible for early release of super, temporary residents must be in one of the following circumstances:
- You hold a student visa that you have held for 12 months or more and you are unable to meet immediate living expenses.
- You are a temporary skilled work visa holder, your working hours have reduced to zero and you remain engaged with your employer.
- You are a temporary resident visa holder (excluding student or skilled worker visas) and you cannot meet immediate living expenses
People accessing their superannuation will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Eligible temporary residents are only able to apply to access up to $10,000 of super in 2019–20. They cannot access a further amount in 2020-21.
How to apply
If you are eligible for this new ground of early release you must apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website. You will need to certify that you meet the above eligibility criteria and provide your bank account details for payment as part of the application.
If you have multiple superannuation accounts, you can elect to claim an amount from each fund, up to a maximum of $10,000 across all of your super funds in each financial year. However you can only make one application in each financial year e.g. you cannot apply for $4,000 in April 2020 and a further $6,000 in May 2020.
After the ATO has processed your application, they will issue you with a determination. The ATO will also provide a copy of this determination and your bank account details to your superannuation fund(s), which will advise them to release your superannuation payment. Your fund will then make the payment to you, without you needing to apply to them directly.
Separate arrangements will apply if you are a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Further guidance will be available on the ATO website.
You will be able to apply for early release of your superannuation through myGov from 20 April 2020.
Impact of early release payment on your insurance cover
You may currently hold insurance cover for Death, Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) and/or Income Protection (IP) in your super account.
If you withdraw your full Club Plus Super account balance, any insurance cover you hold will cease from the date your account is closed. Your insurance cover may also cease if your account balance becomes insufficient to pay the next required insurance premium.
Ed the chef
Ed works in a popular club in Sydney. As a result of the Coronavirus, Ed has had his work hours reduced from 40 hours on average in the second half of 2019 to 20 hours per week on average in May 2020. As a result Ed determines that his hours over the last month have reduced by more than 20% compared to the average of his hours over the last six months of 2019.
Ed decides to apply for the early release of $8,000 of his superannuation in May 2020 to help pay his rent and other living expenses. Ed self-certifies that he is eligible for early release on myGov. He could have applied for up to $10,000, but chose not to. Ed cannot seek any further early release of superannuation in 2019-20 on the grounds that he has been affected by the adverse economic effects of the Coronavirus.
However, Ed finds after 1 July 2020 that his hours continue to be reduced by more than 20 % compared to the average of his hours in the last six months of 2019. Ed decides to make a second application and self-certifies through myGov that he is eligible for early release. He is able to apply again for a release of up to $10,000 of his superannuation. Ed submits a second application for the full amount of $10,000 this time.
For each application, the ATO approves Ed’s early release and notifies both him and his superannuation fund. Ed has received a total of $18,000 of his superannuation in two separate payments. He will not be taxed on this amount and is free to spend this money on anything he chooses, or save it for future expenses. He is also free to recontribute any unused amounts to his superannuation in the future (within his contribution caps).
Rachel the sole trader
Rachel is a sole trader with a catering business. At the end of July 2020, Rachel seeks to apply for an early release from her superannuation for the 2020-21 financial year.
Due to the economic effects of the coronavirus, Rachel’s turnover for July is $5,000 compared to $10,000 on average per month for the second half of 2019. Rachel therefore determines that her turnover has reduced by more than 20% compared to her average turnover over the last six months of 2019.
Rachel self-certifies that she is eligible for early release and applies to have $10,000 released from her superannuation.
For members with loans, consider asking your financial institution for a repayment “pause” – many financial institutions are offering a range of coronavirus-related financial hardship measures to help their customers through this difficult period. For many these measures include three-six months reprieve from loan repayments for their customers.
The government is also offering broad support for various sectors of the community impacted by the Coronavirus – check the ATO site for potential government payments and allowances for which you may be eligible.