What does “retirement” mean for super access purposes?

Super Release Retirement Rules

Did you know that if you’re aged between 60 and 64, you can access your super if you change jobs – without retiring permanently?

The rules about when you can access your super on “retirement” grounds vary depending on your age. Find out exactly what’s required for your age group.

Recently, AMP reported that its superannuation support team has seen a surge in questions about the rules for accessing super. It says people are especially unaware about the retirement rules that apply in the 60-to-64 age range. Here, we break down the requirements by age group and clarify what you must do to “retire” and access your benefits.

Under preservation age

Before you’ve reached your preservation age, you can’t access super on any “retirement” grounds. Your preservation age depends on your date of birth, as shown below:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

If you need to access your super before preservation age, speak to your adviser about whether you might qualify on other grounds such as severe financial hardship, compassionate grounds, terminal medical condition or permanent or temporary incapacity.

Preservation age to age 59

Once you’ve reached preservation age you can potentially access your benefits on “retirement” grounds, but if you’re under 60 you must have the intention of permanently retiring. Specifically, two things need to occur:

  • an arrangement under which you were gainfully employed must come to an end (eg you leave a job); and
  • the trustee of your super fund must be reasonably satisfied that you intend never to again become gainfully employed (either on a full-time or part-time basis).

For these purposes, “part-time” gainful employment means at least 10 hours a week. This means you can “retire” even if you intend to work a small amount each week.

If you don’t meet the retirement test, but need to access some of your benefits, consider starting a “transition to retirement income stream” (TRIS). The only eligibility requirement is that you’ve reached preservation age. However, you’ll be limited to withdrawing a maximum of 10% of your account balance each financial year, and you won’t qualify for an income tax exemption on pension asset earnings. Once you’ve met a release ground such as retirement or reaching age 65, these restrictions will no longer apply.

Age 60 to 64

Once you reach age 60, you can potentially access your super without permanently retiring (although you can, of course, retire permanently if you choose).

All that’s required is that an arrangement under which you were gainfully employed comes to an end (eg you leave a job) after you reached age 60.

That means it’s okay to start another job, or if you were previously working two jobs, it’s sufficient that you leave only one of them. In these cases, you can access a full pension (with an income tax exemption on pension asset earnings, and no 10% maximum annual withdrawal limit) or a lump sum.

Importantly, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) recognises that this is a valid way to access your super, but says that in its view, any future superannuation benefits you then accrue from an ongoing or new job wouldn’t be accessible. To access those benefits, you’d need to meet a further release ground (eg reaching 65 years or “retiring” again).

Age 65 and over

Once you reach age 65, all of your superannuation benefits become accessible. There’s no need to meet any “retirement” or other release grounds.

Need to access your super?

Contact our office for expert advice on accessing your superannuation. We can guide you through the requirements for “retirement” and other release grounds, and help you withdraw your benefits in the most tax-effective way.


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