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Accessing your superannuation

Australians are required to meet a condition of release under superannuation law before they are allowed to cash preserved benefits, restricted non-preserved benefits or access any of their super.

Some conditions of release restrict the form of the benefit or the amount of benefit that can be paid. These are known as ‘cashing restrictions’.

The most common conditions of release for paying benefits are that the member:

  • has reached their preservation age and retires

  • has reached their preservation age and begins a transition-to-retirement income stream

  • ceases an employment arrangement on or after the age of 60

  • is 65 years of age (even if they haven’t retired)

  • has died

Retirement is a condition of release however, depending on a person’s age, they must have stopped working, intend not to work again and have reached their preservation age. Upon the death of a member, their super will be released to their beneficiaries.

Less common conditions of release can apply in particular circumstances. Specific rules apply to the payment of these benefits. In special circumstances at least part of a member’s super benefits can be released before the member has reached preservation age. These are:

  • terminating gainful employment

  • permanent incapacity

  • temporary incapacity

  • severe financial hardship

  • compassionate grounds

  • terminal medical condition

Payments of benefits to members who have not met a condition of release are not treated as super benefits – instead, they are taxed as ordinary income at the member’s marginal tax rate.

Posted on 27 October '16 by , under Super.

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Superfund categories and what they mean

There are four different categories of super funds. These have different primary features and are more applicable to certain people than they are to others.

Retail super funds

Anyone can join retail funds. They are mostly run by banks and investment companies:

  • Allow for a wide range of investment options.
  • Financial advisors may recommend this type of fund as they receive commissions or might get paid fees for them.
  • Although they usually range from medium to high cost, there may be low-cost alternatives.
  • The companies that own these funds will aim to keep some of the profit they yield

Industry super funds

Anyone can join bigger industry funds, but smaller ones may only be open to people in certain industries i.e. health.

  • Most are accumulation funds but some older ones may have defined benefit members
  • Range from low to medium cost
  • Not-for-profit, so all profits are put back into the fund

Public sector super funds

Only available for government employees

  • Employers contribute more than the 9.5% minimum
  • Modest range of investment choices
  • Newer members are usually in an accumulation fund, but many of the long-term members have defined benefits
  • Low fees
  • Profits are put back into the fund

Corporate super funds

Arranged by employers for employees. Large companies may operate corporate funds under the board of trustees. Some corporate funds are operated by retail or industry funds, but availability is restricted to employees

  • If managed by bigger fund, wide range of investment options
  • Older funds have defined benefits, but most are accumulation funds
  • Low to medium costs for large employers, could be high cost for small employers

Self-managed super funds

Private super fund you manage yourself. Many more nuances to this type of fund. Most prominent feature is the autonomy over investment.

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