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Accessing super early

February 9th, 2023

Generally, you can only access your super when you permanently retire. However, there are some circumstances when you may be allowed early access to your super, such as under severe financial hardship or compassionate grounds.


To be eligible for release of your superannuation benefit on the grounds of financial hardship, you’ll need to meet the conditions of either Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 below.

If you cannot meet the conditions under either Scenario, we cannot authorise the release of your benefit on grounds of financial hardship.


You can apply for a financial hardship benefit under Scenario 1 if you are:

> in receipt of an eligible Commonwealth income support payment* from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) (depending on which body makes your income support payments) at the time of the request, and you have been receiving this payment for the last (continuous) 26 weeks; and

> unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.

What IS a reasonable and immediate family living expenses?
Expenses that may qualify as “reasonable and immediate family living expenses” include: > household expenses; > rent and rental bond; > child support and child care; > debts; > car repair bills; > health costs; and > veterinary bills and school fees. Mortgage arrears up to 3 months outstanding may be considered. You must provide a statement from your lending institution that substantiates your claim. Only overdue and current payments on loans/credit cards will be considered. First Super is unable to pay out the full balance owing on loans/credit cards.
What IS NOT a reasonable and immediate family living expenses?
Business expenses and fines (traffic, parking fees etc.) do not satisfy the test of reasonable and immediate family living expenses. Legal fees are not considered immediate family expenses and are not acceptable as a valid debt

* A Commonwealth Government income support payment is an income support supplement, service pension, social security benefit or social security pension.

Evidence of income and expenses

If you are applying under Scenario 1, we require evidence of your income and your spouse’s or partner’s income. This evidence may include: > Centrelink/DVA benefit income statements.

> Pay slips.

> Bank statements.

> Evidence of income from rent, shares and other investments.

We also require evidence of debts and expenses to support your application. For example, this evidence may include:

> Overdue power and water notices.

> Overdue telephone bills.

> Rental arrears notice.

> Overdue credit card notice.

> Overdue loan repayments.

> Statutory declaration from a person/s to whom you owe a personal debt that is payable immediately.

Other supporting documents

> A letter from Centrelink/DVA stating that you are currently in receipt of an eligible Commonwealth income support payment, and have been for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks.

> A Statutory Declaration stating, among other things, that you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family expenses from your income, ie. the combined expenses of you and your family exceed the combined income of you and your family.

> Certified proof of identity.

> A completed First Super Application for Benefit- Financial Hardship form. You can request this form by calling us on 1300 360 988. The form also has further information about the application process. How much of my super benefit can be released? If you meet the specified criteria, you may be entitled to one single lump sum payment in any 12 month period. The minimum payment is $1,000 (unless your balance is less than this amount) and the maximum payment is $10,000 (before tax).

Scenario 2: IF YOU AGED 55 AND ABOVE

You can apply for a financial hardship benefit under Scenario 2 if you:

> have reached your preservation age plus 39 weeks; and

> are not gainfully employed (part time or full time) at the date of this application; and

> have been in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment for a cumulative period of 39 weeks since reaching preservation age.

Date of Birth Preservation Age
Before 1 July 1960 55 and 39 weeks
1 July 1961 to 30 June 1962 57 and 39 weeks
1 July 1961 to 30 June 1962 57 and 39 weeks
1 July 1962 to 30 June 1963 58 and 39 weeks
1 July 1963 to 30 June 1964 59 and 39 weeks
From 1 July 1964 60 and 39 weeks


Documents you will need to apply for hardship

1. A letter from Centrelink/DVA stating that you have been receiving Commonwealth income support payments for a cumulative period of 39 weeks since reaching your preservation age.

2. A Statutory Declaration stating, among other things, that you have reached preservation age, plus 39 weeks, are not gainfully employed on the date of this application, and have been in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment for a cumulative period of 39 weeks since reaching preservation age.

3. Certified proof of identity.

4. A completed First Super Application for Benefit- Financial Hardship form.

How much of my super benefit can be released?

If you meet the Scenario 2 criteria, your total super account can be paid to you and there are no cashing restrictions.

Where to send your completed paperwork Your completed application form, your original Centrelink letter (dated within the last 21 days) and supporting documentary evidence should be sent to:

First Super, PO Box 666, Carlton South, VIC, 3053

On receipt of your paperwork, we will assess your eligibility for payment. If payment of your benefit is approved, the payment will be made in your name, and forwarded in accordance with your payment instructions.


In order to access your super on compassionate grounds, you’ll need to meet the conditions specified by the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Government body responsible for assessing applications for the release of superannuation on compassionate grounds.

The primary condition is that you do not have the financial capacity to meet the expenses arising from the reason on which your application is based. For example, you may be faced with extra medical expenses for either yourself or a dependant, and be unable to pay these expenses.

Your application must include a statutory declaration stating that you are unable to meet the expenses. The circumstances under which your super will be released on compassionate grounds are outlined below.


In order to be able to use your super to help fund medical or dental treatment, or transport to and from these treatments for you or your dependant, the condition must be:

> A life-threatening illness or injury.

> Acute or chronic physical pain.

> Acute or chronic mental condition. The treatment must not be readily available through the public health system and the cost of treatment must not be completely covered by your (or your dependant’s) private health insurance and/or workers compensation.


You may be granted access to your super to prevent your home from being sold by the lender holding the home’s mortgage. Typically, you will not be granted access to pay rent, or to make a payment on a mortgage that:

> You expect to have difficulty paying in the future but is not yet in arrears.

> Is in arrears, but not to the extent that the lender has decided to sell. > Belongs to a dependant, other family member or friend.

> Is for a second or investment property.


You may be granted access to your super to pay for modifications required to accommodate special needs of a person with a severe disability (you or one of your dependants).


You may be granted access to your super to provide palliative care for yourself or your dependant if they have a terminal medical condition.


You may be granted access to your super to assist with funeral, burial, cremation and other expenses related to the death of a dependant. However, the deceased person must have been your dependant, not just a family member. For example, expenses associated with the death of a parent, grandparent or sibling will only be approved if that family member relied on you financially, domestically or personally.

Maximum Amounts Apply

There are maximum release amounts that apply to each circumstance. Further information about these maximum amounts can be found on the DHS website humanservices.gov.au.

The tax payable on the amount released

The amount of tax payable depends on your age, whether you have provided your tax file number, and the components of your benefit. Your benefit payment will generally comprise a tax free and a taxable component. The components of the amount paid will be in proportion to the amount of tax-free and taxable portions of your total benefit.


Step 1 – Apply to DHS

If you think that one or more of the specified compassionate grounds applies to you, please complete the relevant DHS Early Release of Superannuation Benefits on Specified Compassionate Grounds application form which you can download from humanservices.gov.au DHS will assess your application as soon as possible after they have received all the required information from you. Once your application has been assessed, DHS will write to you with its decision and reasons for that decision. If DHS approve the early release of your super you must then apply to First Super for payment (see Step 2). If you have any questions about Step 1 please contact DHS directly.

Website: humanservices.gov.au

Phone: 1300 131 060 (+61 2 6213 5298 outside Australia Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (AEST).

Fax: 1800 228 455

Email: ERSBenquiries@humanservices.gov.au

Post: Early Release of Superannuation Branch, PO Box 1001, Tuggeranong DC ACT 2901.

Step 2 – Apply to First Super

If DHS approves the early release of your benefit, please send the following documents to First Super:

> DHS letter of approval of the early release of your benefit (original or certified copy); and

> a letter advising the banking or payee details; and

> certified Proof of identity documents.

Provided all the documents are in order and payment is approved, the payment will be made in accordance with the instructions on the application form or as directed by DHS.

Important information about Certifying your documents

All copied pages of ORIGINAL documents need to be certified as true copies by any individual approved to do so (see below). The person who is authorised to certify documents must sight the original and the copy and make sure both documents are identical, then make sure all pages have been certified as true copies by including the following details on the copy:

> Writing or stamping ‘This is a true copy of the original.’Their qualification (e.g Police officer, Justice of the Peace etc).

> Their name and address.

> heir signature and date copy was signed. The following individuals can certify copies of the originals as true and correct copies:

> A police officer.

> A medical practitioner or nurse.

> A pharmacist.

> A veterinary surgeon.

> A dentist.

> An optometrist.

> A psychologist.

> A judge or a court.

> A magistrate.

> A chief executive officer of a Commonwealth Court.

> A bailiff.

> A sheriff or sheriff’s officer.

> A Justice of the Peace.

> A notary public officer.

> A registrar or deputy registrar of a court.

> A person enrolled on the roll of a State or Territory Supreme Court of the High Court of Australia, as a legal practitioner.

> An Australian consular officer of an Australian diplomatic officer.

> A physiotherapist.

> A teacher employed on a full-time basis at a school or tertiary education institution.

> A finance company officer with two or more years of continuous service (with one or more finance companies)

> An officer with, or authorised prepresentative of, a holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), having two or more years continuous service with one or more licensees.




Please contact our Service Centre today.

Call      1300 360 988

Email   mail@firstsuper.com.au 



Important information:

The material contained in this bulletin is accurate and reliable as at May 2016. This information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal circumstances or situation. We recommend that you seek qualified financial advice before making any investment decision. The bulletin is provided by First Super Pty Ltd ABN 42 053 498 472, AFSL No. 223988, as the Trustee of First Super ABN 56 286 625 181. If you intend to invest in or continue to hold this product you should obtain and consider a copy of the Product Disclosure Statement which is available by phoning 1300 360 988.