It is important to be aware of exactly when and how you can access your super, and what you can do in the meantime to make sure it is working to your advantage.
PRESERVED UNTIL WHEN?
The super rules state that you can’t generally get your hands on your benefit until you meet at least one of a list of conditions. Most of these are based on your age and personal situation, and sometimes the type of benefit you can receive is limited.
Here is a summary of the most common situations that allow access to super benefits:
√ √ = lump sum or pension access
√ = pension only
x = withdrawals not permitted
|Personal situation||Under Preservation Age||55* or more||60 or
|Death or permanent disability||√ √||√ √||√ √||√ √|
|Retirement||x||√ √||√ √||√ √|
|Change jobs||x||x||√ √||√ √|
|None of the above (ie. still working full-time)||x||√||√||√ √|
* the “preservation age” gradually increases from 55 to 60 for people born after 1960.
Note that these rules are the minimum preservation standards contained in superannuation law. Some super funds will apply more restrictions on access to your benefits; a common example is for an employer fund to deny access while you are still employed with that employer (regardless of age).
IT’S YOUR MONEY, DON’T FORGET ABOUT IT
Most people who own an investment property can see the value in periodically checking up on its general condition. They know that if the fixtures and fittings are holding up, the tenants are paying on time and the local area is booming, these factors assist in achieving the highest possible rent as well as eventual capital gain upon sale.
A similar approach to your super – even when funds are ‘preserved’ for a long time – can also be of considerable value to you. Remember that you usually have some degree of control over preserved benefits, such as choice of the types of underlying investments (from defensive to aggressive and many in between), the level of life insurance you have through the fund, and maybe the ability to choose who should receive the death benefits paid from the fund.
These elements of control vary greatly from one super fund to the next, so the best option is to seek professional advice to ensure your super is working for your future.