Super is designed to provide an income for you in retirement, therefore there are rules around when you can begin withdrawing it in cash – either as a pension or an income stream, or as a lump sum.

Most of your super will probably be preserved – which means it must stay within the super system until you meet a condition of release under super law. If you have any non-preserved super benefits, you can generally access these in cash at any time. The breakdown of your super between preserved and non-preserved will be shown on your benefit statement each year.

As you begin preparing for retirement, the first thing you’ll need to know is your preservation age – this is one of the main things that determines when you can access your super.

If you were born: Your preservation age is:
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 to 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 to 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 to 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 to 30 June 1964 59
After 30 June 1964 60

If you plan to permanently retire

Once you permanently retire from the workforce at or after your preservation age, you’ll be eligible to access your super. If you have to retire early because you meet the conditions related to permanent incapacity, you can also gain access. 

If you plan to keep working

If you’re not permanently retiring, there are some ways that you can still access your super while you continue to work:

  • You reach your preservation age and begin a transition to retirement pension, sometimes known as a pre-retirement pension or Transition to Retirement Income Stream (TRIS).
  • You turn 65 years old.
  • You leave an employer at or after you turn 60, even if you may not be permanently retiring.

There are also some other limited circumstances in which you may be eligible for early access to your super

Other useful resources

    Super and pension age calculator

    Try this calculator to see when you can access your super and when you can apply for the Age Pension. (Source: ASIC MoneySmart)