IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING FINANCIALLY DUE TO THE IMPACT OF COVID-19, YOU CAN NOW CHOOSE TO ACCESS YOUR SUPERANNUATION EARLY.
While this may be positive news for everyone during these difficult times, we cannot help but ponder on a few important questions. Is there a catch to accessing your super early? Who can access it? Is there a limit to what we can access? And finally, what are the future implications of accessing your superannuation before the retirement age? If this sounds interesting for you, keep reading.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected millions of Australian residents financially, mentally, and emotionally. Businesses are struggling to accumulate cash flow resulting to temporary or permanent shutdowns. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake due to restrictive but necessary measures surrounding social distancing and essential activities. Due to the nature of the virus, nobody knows when life will be back to normal as we face an uncertain future coupled with adverse economic effects.
As a measure to relieve financial stress, the Federal Government announced that eligible Australian and New Zealand residents affected by COVID-19 in Australia can apply for an early release of their superannuation. From mid-April, they can access up to $10,000 of their super in 2019 and a further $10,000 in 2020-2021. In summary, you can access up to $20,000 of your super.
Who is Eligible?
Anyone who is a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand, and also certain eligible temporary residents can access their super provided certain conditions are met. At least one of the criteria below must reflect your current situation. Check if you are eligible:
- You are unemployed
- You are able to receive at least one of the following: a JobSeeker payment, Jobseeker Youth Allowance, Special Benefit, Parenting Payment, or Farm Household Allowance
- On or after 1 January 2020 either: you were made redundant, your working hours were reduced by 20% or more (including to zero), or you were a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in turnover of 20% or more.
Eligible temporary residents can also benefit from the early release of super and can access up to $10,000 from their super before 1st of July 2020. For temporary residents, see more info if you met the criteria.
IMPLICATIONS OF ACCESSING YOUR SUPER EARLY
There are considerations you need to be mindful of before taking out some of your hard-earned super. The government announced that there will be NO tax deductions for the amounts released. Furthermore, the money withdrawn will also not affect any of your income or means tests.
Generally, you cannot access your super until you are 60 years old or the “preservation age” because it is reserved for your retirement. However, special circumstances can allow you to withdraw your super early such as terminal medical condition, permanent incapacity, severe financial hardship and compassionate grounds.
Accessing your super early can affect the following:
- Your future retirement income and super balance
- income protection insurance
- life / total permanent disability insurance cover
Consider these important aspects before applying:
- Consult a financial adviser and verify if these withdrawals can affect your insurance or social security payments-especially Centrelink or Veterans Affairs payments.
- Find out the current balance of your super if there is enough money to claim
- In terms of investment, there is a high probability of losing the future benefits of compound interest if you withdraw your super before retirement. This would also depend on your age and how much you can potentially miss out on your retirement savings.
At the end of the day, withdrawing your super is optional but it is essential to make an informed decision with sound knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages.
We highly recommend seeking financial advice before applying for an early release of super. An expert opinion can ease your mind for any future concerns or stress concerning your superannuation.
SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION
Applications open on 20 April 2020. Ensure you have a myGov account linked to the ATO and keep your bank account information handy when you fill up your application. It is not required to attach evidences to support your application. You can only submit one application in each financial year.
Applications for early release of superannuation will be accepted through ATO online services via myGov. You’ll be able to apply for early super release from mid-April 2020, and can do so directly on the ATO’s website through myGov.
Once the ATO has processed your application, a letter of approval or rejection will be sent to your myGov inbox in 2 to 3 days.
For more information of the release of COVID-19 super, visit the ATO’s official website: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/In-detail/Withdrawing-and-using-your-super/COVID-19-early-release-of-super/