Access your super early

From 12:00pm AEDT 24 December 2019 to 6:00am AEDT 2 January 2020, a number of our systems will be unavailable.

During this time, processing times will be affected.

If you require an urgent release it is recommended you apply as soon as possible, otherwise you may need to wait until systems are available in January 2020.

There are very limited circumstances when you can access your superannuation early. These circumstances are mainly related to specific medical conditions or severe financial hardship.

Be aware that some promoters claim to offer early access to your super by transferring your super into a self-managed super fund (SMSF). These schemes are illegal and heavy penalties apply if you participate. For more information, refer to Illegal early release of super.

Find out about:

Access on compassionate grounds

You may be allowed to withdraw some of your super on compassionate grounds for unpaid expenses.

Compassionate grounds include:

  • medical treatment and medical transport for you or a dependant
  • palliative care for you or a dependant
  • making a payment on a loan or council rates so you don’t lose your home
  • modifying your home or vehicle, or buying disability aids for you or a dependant because of a severe disability
  • expenses associated with a death, funeral or burial for a dependant.

The amount of super you can withdraw is limited to what you reasonably need. It is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum. The tax rates depend upon various factors including age and the components of the super lump sum. Your provider will automatically deduct the tax from your super account. Refer to Super lump sum tax table for further information.

If you are a member of an exempt public sector super scheme (EPSSS), do not apply to the ATO. You need to apply directly to your scheme for early release of super. EPSSS have their own state and territory law in regards to early release of super.

Eligibility for compassionate release of super

We can only release your super on compassionate grounds if you:

  • meet the eligibility requirements of the compassionate ground you’re applying for
  • have not paid for the expense – we can only approve compassionate release of super to help you with unpaid expenses. If you have already paid the expense using a loan, a credit card or money borrowed from family or friends, you do not meet the eligibility requirements
  • can’t afford to pay the expenses without accessing your super – for example, by obtaining a loan or using your savings
  • are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand
  • provide all required supporting evidence and invoices/quotes.

Eligible circumstances for compassionate release of super

There are specific circumstances for requesting early release of super on compassionate grounds. These are:

Medical (treatment or transport)

You may be eligible for compassionate release of super to pay for necessary medical treatment or medical transport expenses for you or your dependant.

To be eligible, the medical treatment can’t be readily available through the public health system and you or your dependant must have either:

  • a life threatening illness or injury
  • acute or chronic pain
  • acute or chronic mental illness.

Life threatening

Your medical practitioner is required to provide detailed information relating to your existing life threatening condition. A potentially life-threatening illness will generally not be sufficient to meet the requirements.

There must also be a clear and direct link between the life threatening condition and the treatment required.

Acute or chronic

Your medical practitioner is required to provide detailed information relating to your acute or chronic medical condition. If this information is not provided your application may not meet the requirements.

For more information refer to Report by registered medical practitioner.

Applications for medical transport must be to access medical treatment for one of the above conditions.

Next steps:

Accommodating a disability

You may be eligible for compassionate release of super to accommodate the special needs of you or your dependant arising from a severe disability to:

  • pay for modifications to your principle place of residence
  • pay for modifications to your vehicle
  • pay for disability aids
  • purchase a modified vehicle.

A severe disability refers to a severe physical or mental impairment which either temporarily or permanently limits one or more functional capabilities such as mobility, communication and self-care, causing substantial functional limitation in everyday activities. For more information refer to Report by registered medical practitioner.

We can only approve modifications to your dependant’s home if the home is also your principal place of residence.

We can only approve modifications to your vehicle if you own or have joint ownership of the vehicle.

If you live in a rental property, we can approve a release if your landlord has provided written consent to the proposed modifications.

Next steps:

Palliative care for a terminal illness

You may be eligible for compassionate release of super to pay for palliative care expenses if you or your dependant has a terminal illness.

Some of these expenses can include:

  • costs of accommodation in a hospice
  • service providers giving palliative care
  • carers giving directly related palliative management.

You may apply directly to your super provider for early release of super to pay for your own palliative care. The provider can release the money if they are satisfied you have a terminal medical condition and you will not pay tax on this money.

If we approve your request for compassionate release of super for you or on behalf of your dependant; the amount will be taxable.

Next steps:

The recent passing of a dependant

You may be eligible for compassionate release of super if your dependant has recently passed away. You can apply to release an amount needed to cover a dependant’s:

  • funeral
  • burial
  • death expenses.

We won’t approve the release of super to pay for venue hire or catering for a wake.

Next steps:

Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home

You may be eligible for compassionate release of super to pay for mortgage arrears if your mortgage lender is threatening to repossess or sell your home. You can’t apply for release of super for a dependant’s mortgage. To be eligible, both the following must apply:

  • the property is your principal place of residence
  • you are legally responsible for the mortgage repayments and are listed on the written statement from your mortgagee.

If you have outstanding arrears but your property is not being foreclosed, you aren’t eligible for a release under compassionate grounds.

Maximum release amount on your mortgage

The maximum amount you can request for a mortgage release within a 12-month period is the sum of:

  • three months repayments, and
  • 12 months interest on the outstanding balance of the loan.

For example, if your monthly repayments are $1,200 and 12 months interest on your loan is $9,600, the maximum you can request is 3 × $1,200 + $9,600 = $13,200.

You can apply for amounts to be released from more than one super provider if you need it. However, the total amount that can be released will only be the amount necessary to stop a foreclosure.

You may also be eligible to apply if you have a minimum of two years’ arrears on council rates and if your council has begun to take action to possess or to sell your property.

The entity foreclosing or taking action to possess your home needs to have an express power of sale to be considered. If foreclosure is threatened as a result of bankruptcy, family court proceedings or other loan agreements, it is unlikely that you are eligible.

Next step:

Applying for a dependant’s expenses

You can apply for compassionate release of super to pay for the following expenses for your dependant:

Your spouse or children are automatically considered dependants.

We define a spouse as someone who is:

  • legally married to you
  • not legally married to you, but lives with you on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.

We define a child as someone who is under 18 years old or is permanently disabled and is your:

  • biological child
  • adopted child
  • stepchild
  • child of de facto spouse.

Interdependent

If you apply to pay expenses for a dependant who isn’t defined as your spouse or child, you need to prove you are in an interdependent relationship.

An interdependent relationship is a close personal relationship between two people where:

  • they live together
  • one or both provides financial support to the other
  • one or both provides domestic support and personal care to the other.

Evidence of interdependency

To prove you are in an interdependent relationship, you must provide documents showing you both live at the same address – this could be a joint bank statement or a phone, power or water bill.

You also need to provide a statutory declaration telling us about your interdependent relationship. This statutory declaration should include:

  • how long you’ve been in the relationship
  • if you jointly own a house or belongings
  • if you jointly care and provide support for children
  • if your relationship is public
  • the amount of emotional support.

You may also be considered to have an interdependent relationship if you have a close personal relationship but live apart because one or both of you are:

  • temporarily living apart, for example; working interstate or overseas or detained in prison
  • receiving care for a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability.

Next step:

Financial impact

You may want to talk to an independent financial adviser before applying for compassionate release of super.

Releasing your super early will generally count towards your assessable income for income tax purposes. This can affect your family tax benefit or child support (if applicable).

If you are under the preservation age, you need to pay tax on any lump sum payment from your early release of super. The rate of tax is dependent on the components of the amount released. Your super provider will provide you with the correct amount.

Note: Don’t include release fees and tax in the amount you request to be released.

Contact your super provider

You should contact your super providers to ask about:

  • whether they will release super early under compassionate grounds
  • whether there is sufficient balance in your account
  • any fees for releasing super early under compassionate grounds
  • tax on the amount released
  • implication on any insurance attached to your accounts.

If your provider does not permit early release of super, you may be able to transfer your super to a different provider that allows early release on compassionate grounds.

If you are a member of an EPSSS, do not apply to the ATO. You need to apply directly to your scheme for early release of super. EPSSS have their own state and territory law in regards to early release of super.

If you have a self-managed super fund, you still need our approval to access your super early.

Using savings, assets and investments

We can only approve a release for the amount required to pay your immediate expenses. You should not apply for any expenses that you can meet with your savings or the sale of shares, investments, or assets.

Joint applications

Joint applications can be made if you and another person need to pay part of the same expense. If you are making a joint application, each person will need to complete and submit a separate application and meet the eligibility criteria and provide the applicable evidence. The total amount released cannot exceed the total amount of the invoice/quote.

See also:

How to apply

Our application process is a free and easy service. Our staff are available to assist with any enquiries you may have with completing your application. We don’t process applications to access super on compassionate grounds over the phone.

You should be aware that some entities may charge a fee to assist with preparing an application on your behalf.

The application is a three-part process. Before you apply, check with your super provider whether they allow the early release of super.

To apply:

  1. Use our online form. We assess your eligibility for compassionate release of super, which can take up to 14 days.

    We can’t provide you with a progress update during the assessment phase. Once we assess your application, you will receive an SMS text message advising the outcome. You will be advised of the outcome within 72 hours of your application being processed.

  2. If your application is successful, we will also notify your super provider. You must contact your super provider to arrange release of your money. You will need to provide the super provider with a copy of the approval letter to process your payment.
  3. The ATO approval letter can only be used to release one lump sum payment from your super provider.
  4. You must pay the expenses with the amount released from the provider and keep your receipts as evidence.

If you have a self-managed super provider, you still need our approval to access your super early.

Required evidence

To submit your application online, you need digital copies of the required evidence. We accept photos of documents. Supported file formats are gif, jpeg, png and pdf.

If you submit a paper application you need to ensure you provide copies of your documents. Do not provide original documents as these will not be returned.

Do not include graphic images to support your application. Images of this nature do not form part of the evidence required to assess your application.

If the registered medical practitioner or specialist report is written in a language other than English it will need to be translated to English by a NAATI accredited translator.

General requirements for quotes and invoices

When providing a quote or invoice you will need to ensure it contains all the required information. For more information about these requirements refer to Tax invoices.

See also:

Next step:

Medical treatment

If you are applying to pay for medical treatment expenses you must provide two separate reports. One must be from a registered medical specialist and the other can be from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist, advising that you or your dependant requires treatment for:

  • a life threatening illness or injury
  • acute or chronic pain
  • an acute or chronic mental illness.

The registered medical specialist must be specialised in the area they are giving their opinion. Examples include:

  • If you apply for treatment of an acute or chronic mental illness, most applications will require a medical report from a psychiatrist.
  • If you apply for treatment of a life threatening illness or injury one medical report must be from the registered medical specialist who diagnosed the illness or injury.

Medical reports must be from a registered medical practitioner and registered medical specialist. Allied professionals, such as physiotherapists, psychologists and podiatrists are not considered medical practitioners or specialists.

The medical practitioner report must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application.

If you need to submit further applications for medical treatment you will need new medical reports for each application submitted.

If applying for the same treatment (for example, in vitro fertilisation (IVF)) in a subsequent application, you will need to provide a new or updated quote in each subsequent application. However, the same medical report can be used provided it was completed no more than six months before you submit your application.

If you are applying for IVF-related treatment, we will only approve expenses that can legally be paid for within Australia. Expenses relating to commercial surrogacy, procurement of human gametes or human embryos cannot be funded via this program.

If you are applying for IVF-related treatment and your invoice includes expenses for a non-dependant third party, your application will not be approved.

If you require overseas treatment your medical specialist needs to advise why you can’t receive the treatment within Australia.

Note: One reason for applications being rejected is where the medical specialist or practitioner has not provided all the required information in their report. This is common where the medical specialist or practitioner does not use the report form available on our website. It is recommended that this report is used in order to process your application in a timely manner.

If your medical reports are incomplete or do not contain enough information it is likely your application will be rejected.

Quotes and invoices

We may contact service providers to validate invoices or quotes. Your relevant quotes or unpaid invoices must be:

  • on the medical provider’s letterhead
  • dated
  • no more than six months old for quotes
  • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.

If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release should be converted to Australian dollars.

Medical transport

If you are applying to pay for medical transport expenses you must provide two medical practitioner reports. One must be from a registered medical specialist and the other can be from either a registered medical practitioner or a registered medical specialist, advising that you or your dependant requires treatment for:

  • a life-threatening illness or injury
  • acute or chronic pain
  • an acute or chronic mental illness.

The registered medical specialist should be specialised in the area they are giving their opinion. Examples include:

  • If you apply for treatment of an acute or chronic mental illness, most applications will require a medical report from a psychiatrist.
  • If you apply for treatment of a life threatening illness or injury one medical report must be from the registered medical specialist who diagnosed the illness of injury.

If you are applying for medical treatment and medical transport, you can use the same medical practitioner reports as long as at least one report captures the locations, frequency and duration of the treatment.

If applying for medical transport only, at least one report must capture the locations, frequency and duration of the treatment.

The medical practitioner reports must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application. If your medical reports are incomplete or do not contain enough information it is likely your application will be rejected.

Before we approve a release for medical transport, we will consider the most cost efficient and reasonable options for the medical transport, including:

  • public transport
  • government or non-government providers offering medical transportation services on a fee-for-service basis
  • private taxi
  • hire car, ambulance, train, or ferry
  • domestic flights, international flights, or air ambulance
  • vehicle expenses
  • purchase of a vehicle where at least 60% of its primary use will be for medical transport.

The purchase of a vehicle will only be considered when all other means of transport cannot reasonably be used. Vehicle options such as tinted windows or metallic paint will not be considered for release unless medically required.

If you are applying for a vehicle that costs greater than $20,000 your application needs to include additional information to support why the specific vehicle is required.

When assessing the planned usage of a vehicle we will consider the following:

  • frequency of all treatments
  • kilometres travelled to treatment locations
  • any other information provided

You need to provide the reason for the type of transport you are requesting to support your claim or your application may not be considered. If you require overseas treatment your medical specialist needs to advise why you can’t receive the treatment within Australia.

If you are having difficulty paying a car loan, it is considered financial hardship and does not meet a condition for compassionate release of super.

Quotes and invoices

You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

  • on the provider’s letterhead
  • dated
  • no more than six months old for quotes
  • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.

If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release should be converted to Australian dollars.

See also:

Next step:

Accommodating a disability

If you are applying to pay for modifications to your home or vehicle or purchase of a disability aid, you must provide one report completed by a registered medical practitioner or specialist, who treated you or your dependant for the disability.

The registered medical practitioner or specialist needs to certify that:

  • you or your dependant have a severe disability
  • the modifications or purchases are required to accommodate the severe disability.

The medical practitioner reports must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application. If your medical reports are incomplete or do not contain enough information it is likely your application will be rejected.

We will only approve expenses that are considered to be disability aids for:

  • assistive technology
  • modifications to your principal place of residence
  • vehicle modifications.

Everyday expenses or items not specifically related to accommodating the disability are unlikely to be approved.

Quotes and invoices

You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

  • on the provider’s letterhead
  • dated
  • no more than six months old for quotes
  • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.

If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release should be converted to Australian dollars.

If you are modifying your home you need to provide evidence to support that the property is your principle place of residence. Examples include:

  • electricity bills
  • gas bills
  • internet bills.

If you live in a rental property, we can approve a release if your landlord has provided written consent to the proposed modifications.

The quote or invoice must state the address of the home being modified or the owner of the vehicle being modified.

See also:

Next step:

Palliative care for a terminal illness

If you are applying to pay for palliative care for a terminal illness, you must provide one report completed by a registered medical practitioner or specialist, who is treating you or your dependant.

The registered medical practitioner needs to certify you or your dependant:

  • has a terminal illness, and
  • requires palliative care.

The medical practitioner reports must be completed no more than six months before you submit your application. The reports must be signed, dated and submitted with your application.

If we approve your request for compassionate release of super for you or your dependant; this amount will be taxable.

You may apply directly to your super provider for early release of super to pay for your own palliative care. The provider can release the money if you have a terminal medical condition and you will not pay tax on this money.

Quotes and invoices

You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

  • on the provider’s letterhead
  • dated
  • no more than six months old for quotes
  • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.

If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release should be converted to Australian dollars.

See also:

Next step:

The recent passing of a dependant

If you are applying to pay for the funeral, burial or death expenses of a dependant, you will need to provide either:

  • a copy of your dependant’s death certificate
  • proof of dependency
  • a letter from your dependant’s medical practitioner or the funeral provider on their letterhead, less than six months old, signed and dated, that should state      
    • the dependant has passed away
    • the date of death
    • the registered medical practitioner’s AHPRA number.

     

Quotes and invoices

You must include relevant quotes or unpaid invoices:

  • on the provider’s letterhead
  • dated
  • no more than six months old for quotes
  • no more than 30 days old for unpaid invoices.

Allowable expenses include:

  • death (death certificate, transport)
  • funeral (funeral service fees, flowers and public advertising)
  • burial or cremation (coffin, casket or urn, cremation costs and cemetery fees).

If your invoice or quote is in a foreign currency, the amount you are requesting for release should be converted to Australian dollars.

See also:

Next step:

Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home

If you are applying to pay for mortgage arrears to prevent foreclosure or forced sale of your home, which is your principal place of residence, you need to provide:

  • a utility bill (no older than three months)
  • a default notice issued from your bank or lender for each loan you secured against your home
  • a letter from your bank or lender for each loan you secured against your home.

The letter must be addressed to the applicant and state:

  • payment of an amount is overdue and the mortgagee will foreclose or force the sale of your home if the overdue amount isn’t paid by the due date
  • the current amount owing that must be paid in order to stop action to sell your property
  • the address of the property under threat of sale
  • the amount equal to three months of repayments for the loan
  • the amount equal to 12 months interest on the outstanding balance of the loan
  • the name of the mortgagee and the loan account number.

If you have more than one mortgage on your home, you need to provide a separate letter for each mortgage under threat by foreclosure or forced sale of home.

The letter must also be:

  • no more than 30 days old
  • on the bank or lender’s letterhead
  • dated.

If you and someone else want to apply for compassionate release of super for the same mortgage, the lender’s written statement must specify that you are all legally responsible for the mortgage.

You may also be eligible to apply if you have arrears on council rates if your council has commenced proceedings to take possession of or sell your home.

You need to provide a letter from the council which states:

  • payment of an amount is overdue and the council has begun action to foreclose or to sell your home if the overdue amount isn’t paid by the due date
  • the current amount owing that must be paid in order to stop action to sell your property
  • the address of the property under threat of sale
  • the amount in arrears must be itemised for each year.

You will also need to provide documents that support you owe two years or more of council rates.

If you own multiple properties, you may not be eligible for release under compassionate grounds, as you may have capacity to pay your expense by other means, for example, the sale of other property assets.

Note: You can’t apply for release of super for a dependant’s mortgage.

Next step:

How tax applies

There are no special tax rates for a super withdrawal on compassionate grounds. It is paid and taxed as a normal super lump sum. The tax rates depend upon various factors including age and the components of the super lump sum. Refer to Super lump sum tax table for further information.

See also:

Apply now

You can apply for compassionate release of super online by logging in to your myGov account. If you live outside Australia and are unable to apply online, contact us to request an application form.

Apply now

Once logged into myGov, select the ATO link on the home page, or link the ATO if this is not available. Once on the ATO online services homepage, select the heading option Super, then Manage, then Compassionate release of superannuation.

Outside Australia

If you apply from overseas:

  • Copies of documents you provide to support application should be certified as true and correct copies of the original document. You must arrange for documents in another language to be translated into English and certified as a true and correct copy by an authorised translation service.
  • Post your completed forms and supporting documents to

    Australian Taxation Office

    Compassionate release of superannuation

    PO Box 3006

    PENRITH  NSW  2740

If you don’t agree with the decision we have made

First, contact us so we can check your details and explain the decision.

If your application was not approved because you didn’t provide sufficient evidence, you need to submit a new application with all the required documentation.

If your application was partially approved and you have new evidence, you need to submit a new application with the required documentation for only the balance that was not approved.

After contacting us, if you still believe we made an incorrect decision, you can request a review of our decision using the Compassionate release of superannuation – request for review of a decision form (NAT 74952, PDF 148KB).

If your application was rejected because you didn’t provide sufficient evidence, a request for review generally won’t be successful. If you have new or additional information, you should submit a new application.

You need to complete the Compassionate release of superannuation – request for a review of a decision form within 14 days of the date of the original decision letter.

Amend or withdraw an application

Make sure your details are correct as you can’t amend your application after it has been submitted.

To withdraw an application, contact us and quote your reference number.

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