Mozo guides

When can I access my super?

Eager to access your superannuation but unsure about the timing?

Typically, the earliest you can access your funds is from age 55, depending on your birth year. So, what exactly determines when you can access your super, and how can you find out your specific eligibility?

Let’s break it down.

Happy businesswoman of near retirement age crossing finish line during sports race in the office.

When can I withdraw my super?

In order to withdraw super, you must meet one of several criteria. These are: 

  • You’re 65 years old or older. 
  • You’ve reached your preservation age (more on this later) and have retired.
  • You’ve reached your preservation age and have quit your job (even if you plan to get another one).
  • You’ve reached your preservation age and have begun a transition to retirement (TTR).

Just remember, you only need to fulfil one of these conditions to access your super, so as you consider your options, understanding which condition applies to you will guide your next steps.

What is meant by ‘preservation age’?

The preservation age is the earliest age at which you can start accessing your super funds, provided you also meet other conditions, such as retiring or significantly reducing your work hours.

It’s aptly named to emphasise the point of your super: to keep it ‘preserved’ until you’re closer to retiring.

Currently the preservation age is anywhere from 50-60 based on the year you were born, with the staggered approach accounting for longer life expectancies.

What is my preservation age?

To determine your preservation age, simply find the year of your birth in the table below. 

Date of birth
Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964
From 1 July 1964

Source: Super Withdrawal Options

I think I’m eligible, so how do I get my super?

As previously noted, to access your superannuation funds, you must meet specific conditions of release. In the table below, we’ll look at all these conditions along with the eligibility requirements and withdraw implications for each:

Access Details
Withdraw Options
65 years or older
Eligible to access super with no additional requirements.
Access all accumulated funds.
Lump sum or income stream
Reached preservation age and retired
Requires that you have stopped working and do not intend to return to work.
Access all accumulated funds.
Lump sum or income stream
Reached preservation age and ceased employment
Applies if you quit your job, regardless of future employment plans.
Access funds accumulated before cessation. To use funds earned after, another condition of release must be met.
Lump sum or income stream
Reached preservation age and began transition to retirement 
Initiated a transition to retirement strategy while still working.
Access limited via a transition to retirement income stream, not full withdrawal.
Income stream

What is a transition to retirement strategy?

A transition to retirement strategy allows you to access some of your super if you’ve reached your preservation age but don’t want to stop working. 

With a transition to retirement strategy, you’ll shift some of your funds into an ‘account-based pension,’ which is essentially a personal retirement account within your super fund. This is called your ‘transition to retirement income stream’ (TRIS), which is designed to provide you with a regular income by allowing you to withdraw portions of your superannuation savings in a controlled and flexible manner. 

This means you can receive regular payments from your super savings while continuing to work, or as you begin to reduce your hours. Hence the label ‘transition to retirement’.

What is the difference between preservation age and pension age?

The preservation age and pension age refer to two different programs. Your preservation age is for accessing money that is being preserved in your superannuation account during all of those years of your working life. 

The pension age is the age at which you could be eligible for the government Age Pension, which is separate to superannuation. The Age Pension is designed to support the basic living needs of older Australians who may not have the means to retire comfortably (for example, they don’t have enough super).

Not everyone is eligible for the Age Pension, as there are age and residency requirements and it uses means-testing to determine eligibility. The pension age ranges from 65-67, and is currently 67 for anyone born on or after 1957.

Can I access my super early?

There are ways to access your super before your preservation age, but it’s only allowed under very limited circumstances. Here are some situations where you may qualify:

  • Compassionate grounds. You might be eligible to withdraw some of your super for urgent financial needs, such as essential medical treatment or preventing home foreclosure. More details on using super for a home loan repayment can be found here.
  • Terminal medical condition. You may be able to access your super if you have a condition likely to result in death within 24 months.
  • Severe financial hardship. If you can't cover immediate living expenses, you might qualify for early super release. For more information, speak to your super provider.
  • Incapacity. Whether temporary or permanent, if a medical condition stops you from working, you could receive your super as an income stream or a lump sum. Additionally, check if insurance benefits linked to your super can be accessed.
  • Super less than $200. If your employment ends and your super balance is below $200, you might be able to claim these funds. 

For more information on the eligibility requirements and other details, check out our guide on accessing your super early.

How to withdraw your super

When it comes to the brass tacks of withdrawing your super, every fund provider's process is different. However, you can typically expect to complete a withdrawal form, which will include information such as: 

  • Your personal details. Including things like your name, date of birth, tax file number, and unique superannuation identifier of your super fund.
  • Employment details (if applicable).
  • Meeting the conditions of release. This is usually a checklist to assess your eligibility for claiming super. 
  • Proof of identity documents. You may be asked to provide certified copies of your passport, driver’s licence and Medicare card.
  • Withdrawal details. You might be asked to state your intention to receive a lump sum payment, income stream, transfer your super into another fund, or make a full withdrawal.
  • Payment details. This section of the form may ask you whether you’d like your super transferred into a nominated bank account, an account-based pension or another super fund.

Once you’ve sent off your application to claim super, it can take approximately 5 business days before any funds hit your nominated bank account. This is assuming that your provider has received all of the information they need and there are no delays.

What is the super preservation age loophole?

You might've heard rumours of a 'super preservation age loophole.' Just to be clear, there is no super preservation age loophole. Trying to access your super early outside the allowed conditions can land you in trouble, so it's best to stick to the rules.

FAQs about when you can access your super

Do I have to pay taxes on the super I withdraw?

Generally, withdrawals made after you turn 60 are tax-free. However, if you access your super before age 60, the withdrawals may be subject to tax, which can vary depending on the amount and your circumstances. Read more on how super is taxed here.

What’s the maximum amount I can withdraw from my super once retired?

There is no maximum amount you can withdraw from your super once retired, provided you’ve met a condition of release. So if you’re over 65 years old and working, or have reached your preservation age and retired, for example, you can withdraw as much of your super as you’d like. 

As for the minimum amount you can withdraw from your super once retired, it’s a percentage of your account balance that you can check out in the section above that shows you how much you can withdraw from your super.

Do I have to withdraw all my super at once?

No, you always have the option to withdraw your super as an ‘income stream’. When you choose an income stream, you’re essentially transferring your funds from an accumulation account into an account-based pension, also known as a retirement income account.

If you choose an income stream and you’re not under a ‘transition to retirement income stream’ (TRIS), there’s a minimum amount you must withdraw each year, depending on your age and account balance.

The following table shows the minimum amount you must withdraw per year:

Minimum withdrawal amount (as a % of your account balance)
Under 65
95 and above

If you’re enrolled in a TRIS, there are restrictions on how much you can take out of your super. For instance, you might only be able to access between 4-10% of your super fund’s balance each financial year if you’re under 65 years old. 

Can I use super to buy my first home?

Sort of. The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme allows you to use your superannuation as a tax-effective saving vehicle for purchasing your first home. Under this scheme, you make voluntary contributions to your super (over and above what your employer contributes), which are taxed at a lower rate than your regular income. 

You can then withdraw these contributions, along with associated earnings, to fund your first home purchase. You're allowed to withdraw up to $15,000 from any one financial year and a total of up to $50,000 across all years. 

However, this is more of a structured saving plan, as you're setting aside extra money specifically for this purpose, rather than tapping into your existing retirement funds.

What is an account-based pension?

An account-based pension is a way to receive your superannuation savings as regular income once you retire and meet the conditions of release. When this happens, you’ll move your super or a portion of your super into this pension and then set up regular withdrawals. You can adjust how much you take out each year, depending on your needs, and the money left in the pension keeps growing if your investments do well.

It’s the only way to access your super under a transition-to-retirement scheme, but it’s also available to anyone over the preservation age that is eligible to access their super.

What’s the difference between lump sum and income stream?

With a lump sum, you can withdraw all your money and do whatever you want with it, including blowing it all on a Ferrari (which we don’t recommend). But in all seriousness, you can use a lump sum to pay off your house, buy property or invest in opportunities that could offer higher returns. It allows for potential growth outside the constraints of the superannuation system.

On the flip side, an income stream stays in the super system. As we mentioned before, with an income stream, you’ll shift your funds into a retirement income account, which are offered by most major super funds. These types of accounts still have the ability to generate returns, but they also allow you to withdraw a portion at a time to give you a type of regular income.

Brad Buzzard
Brad Buzzard
Senior Money Writer

Brad brings over 25 years of experience in writing and consumer research to Mozo, using his RG146 certification for Generic Knowledge and Superannuation Brad has a knack for translating complex policies, to deliver practical guidance on financial matters. Brad has been featured in The Australian, B&T, Mumbrella, and Asia Insurance Review, and his insights have influenced the strategies of some of the world's biggest brands including McDonalds and Proctor & Gamble.