What happens at retirement?

Accessing your super

You’ve spent a lifetime saving for it so how do you actually go about getting your super when you’re ready to retire?

It’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’d like to draw on your super a few years before you retire as there are a number of rules surrounding how you can withdraw your super savings. Seeking financial advice at this stage can also help you decide the best way for you to get your super.

When can I access my super?

In general terms, you can access your superannuation savings as soon as you:

  • reach what is known as your ‘preservation age’ and are permanently retired;
  • reach preservation age and are eligible for a transition to retirement pension; or
  • turn 65.

Your preservation age is the youngest you can be to start receiving your super, and it depends on when you were born:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

If you reach your preservation age and are yet to permanently retire, you can still access part of your super through a transition to retirement pension.

There are also some very specific circumstances under which you can legally access your superannuation savings early. Read about these on our Accessing super in tough times page.

Did you know? Most funds will require you to fill out a designated form and provide proof of identity to begin withdrawing your super. Contact your super fund for information on what they require.

What happens after I access it?

When withdrawing your superannuation, you can generally choose to receive it as a lump sum, a retirement income stream, or a mixture of both.

If you choose a lump sum, the entirety of your superannuation balance is transferred to your bank account. If you go for an income stream, you will receive a designated amount to your bank account every fortnight/month etc and the rest sits in your super fund and continues to earn investment returns.

Before deciding on how you will withdraw your super, you should note that taking your super out as a lump sum can have significant tax implications and impact on any Centrelink payments you may be entitled to.

Did you know? By law, you don't have to cash out your super just because you've reached your preservation age or turn 65 but be sure to check with your fund on their own rules.