If you receive government income support payments and are having trouble covering your expenses, early access to your super may be an option for you.

Severe financial hardship is a situation where your living and family expenses are more than the money you receive through government support, such as through the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Centrelink). 

Am I eligible to withdraw my super early?

There are two ways you might be allowed to withdraw your super early on the grounds of financial hardship if you’ve been an Aware Super member for more than 6 months. 

Case 1 

(You haven’t reached your preservation age) 

You are eligible if: 

  • you are under preservation age 
  • you have been receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment continuously for each of the past 26 weeks; and 
  • you are unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses that are due to be paid 

 

You can apply to withdraw your super once during any 12-month period and can withdraw between $1000 (or your total account balance if less than $1000) and $10,000.

Case 2 

(You’ve reached your preservation age)  

You are eligible if:

  • you have reached your preservation age (between 55 and 60 years old); and 
  • you are not currently gainfully employed (full-time or part-time) on the date of your application; and 
  • you have received a qualifying Commonwealth income support payment for a tota period of 39 weeks after reaching your preservation age 

 

There are no limits to the amount you can apply to withdraw from your super. 

Please note, the Government’s Early Release Scheme to support members through COVID-19 is no longer available.

Access your super for severe financial hardship

If you believe you meet either set of the claim types above, follow these steps to access your super early.

It’s important that you complete each step in your application correctly and include all supporting documentation listed, otherwise this could cause delays in processing your application, and we want to make sure you get access to the money you need.

Download and complete the Application for early release: severe financial hardship (case 1) form.

Download form

You will need to provide the following information:

1. Proof that you’ve been receiving eligible Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) payments continuously for at least 26 weeks, by:

  • Providing your Centrelink Reference Number (CRN) in your application (we can then check directly with Centrelink)

If you receive Commonwealth income support from a government department other than Centrelink and want to apply for early release of your super on grounds of severe financial hardship, please call 1300 650 873. Commonwealth income support payments include:

  • An income support supplement, a service pension, a social security benefit (other than Austudy or Youth Allowance if you are in fulltime study)
  • A drought relief payment or exceptional circumstances relief payment under the Farm Household Support Act, or
  • Payment from the Community Development employment Projects scheme
  • If you are not sure if you qualify, or to access your CRN, please contact Centrelink directly

2. Complete the statutory declaration in the application form confirming your combined family expenses exceed your family’s combined income. The statutory declaration under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 must be witnessed by an authorised person. See page 3 and page 6 of the application

3. A copy of your bank statement (or your joint account) showing the account balance. This must be dated within three months of your application. If you want to receive your financial hardship payment by electronic funds transfer (EFT), the bank account details you provide in your application (name, BSB and account number) must match your bank account details on the bank statement you include as part of your application form.

4. Certified proof of identity – see the application form for details and how to certify your ID documents.

Download and complete the Application for early release: severe financial hardship (case 1) form.

Download form

You will need to provide the following information: 

1. Confirmation that you’ve reached preservation age, and that you’re unemployed or employed for less than 10 hours a week at the date of this application 

2. Proof that you’ve been receiving eligible Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) payments for at least 36 weeks since reaching your preservation age, either by: 

  • Providing your Centrelink Reference Number (CRN) in your application (we can then check directly with Centrelink), or  
  • Providing a Q251 letter from Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). This letter confirms that you are receiving Commonwealth income support and have done so for the required period. It must be dated within 21 days of your application to be valid.  

If you receive Commonwealth income support from a government department other than Centrelink and want to apply for early release of your super on grounds of severe financial hardship, please call 1300 650 873. Commonwealth income support payments include: 

  • An income support supplement, a service pension, a social security benefit (other than Austudy or Youth Allowance if you are in fulltime study), 
  • A drought relief payment or exceptional circumstances relief payment under the Farm Household Support Act, or 
  • Payment from the Community Development employment Projects scheme.

If you are not sure if you qualify, or to access your CRN, please contact Centrelink directly 

3. If you want to receive your financial hardship payment by electronic funds transfer (EFT) you will need to provide a copy of a bank statement, and the bank account details on your statement (name, BSB and account number) must match the bank account details in your application form. 

4. Certified proof of identity – see the application form for details and how to certify your ID documents. 

Things to keep in mind

  1. Aware Super does not determine early access

    Aware Super does not determine whether you will be granted access to your super early, the Department of Human Services does.

  2. Your government support payments

    The Department of Human Services look at your entire financial situation when calculating your eligibility for Commonwealth income support. Any super that is released to you could affect what you receive as a pension. Be sure to do your research and understand how your income support may be decreased by withdrawing your super.  

    Visit Centrelink
  3. You may be charged tax on withdrawal

    How much you get taxed will depend on your age and whether you’ve given us your tax file number.

    Read more
  4. There may be other options

    You might be able to apply for early access to your super on compassionate grounds. And if that’s not an option, speak to one of our financial advisers. 

    Read more

Once your application has been submitted 

A financial hardship payment from your super account is usually completed within three to five business days of Aware Super receiving all the required information from you.  Once we receive your application, our administration team will review it within two business days of receiving it. If any information is missing or unclear, our team will contact you by phone or email. The processing time will start again from when that information is received.