If you have medical, disability or funeral expenses you just can’t afford, you have the right to apply to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to have some of your superannuation released before you retire.

COVID-19 changes: Early access to super is temporarily available for eligible people.

For more information see COVID-19 changes: Early access to super

Applying on compassionate grounds

It may be tempting to view this as an easy solution, but there are risks associated with accessing your superannuation early.

Before you consider applying to the DHS, read about the risks associated with accessing your superannuation, and speak to one of our financial counsellors.

Access superannuation


Grounds for early release

There are 5 specified compassionate grounds:

  1. For medical or dental treatment for yourself or a dependant, or to pay for transport for treatment
  2. To modify your home or car to accommodate your own needs or the needs of a dependant with a severe disability
  3. For palliative care for yourself or a dependant with a terminal medical condition
  4. To pay for expenses associated with a dependant’s death, funeral or burial
  5. To prevent the forced sale of your home by your lender or council (refer to Applying to use your superannuation to pay mortgage arrears)


How to apply

  1. Go to the Australian Taxation Office and follow the process for applying for early superannuation release.
  2. Collect the supporting documentation that proves the compassionate grounds your application is based on.
  3. Submit your application through MyGov. Your application will be assessed within 10 days of receiving all the required documentation and the Australian Taxation Office will advise you in writing of their decision.

If you’re terminally ill, you can apply directly to your super fund for the early release of your superannuation. You’ll need 2 medical certificates from 2 doctors (one must be a specialist) confirming that you have an illness that is likely to result in your death within 2 years.

Note that even if you obtain approval from the Australian Taxation Office, your superannuation fund is not obliged to release your funds early if their policy disallows early access.