To help people facing financial hardship due to Coronavirus, the Government has temporarily changed the rules around accessing super. If you’re eligible you can access some money from your super where certain eligibility criteria has been met.

The temporary condition of release allows eligible people to apply to release an amount from super, up to $10,000. Two applications could be made:

  • The first application needed to have been made before 30 June 2020.
  • The second application can be made from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.
     

Before you decide to take money out of your super, take some time to decide what’s best for you—not just for today, but tomorrow too.

It’s important you understand how accessing your super early may affect your long-term retirement savings, and the insurance in super you may have.

Age Amount accessed early Estimated reduction in balance at retirement (age 67)*
30 $20,000 $43,032
40 $20,000 $35,024
50 $20,000 $28,506

*These results have been generated using the ‘Super withdrawal estimator’ available on the ASIC MoneySmart website at https://moneysmart.gov.au/covid-19/accessing-your-super. The estimates are based on assumptions including a retirement age of 67, a gross investment return of 7.5% pa, tax on earnings of 7%, investment fees of 0.85% pa, income of $50,000 and an initial inflation rate of 2.5% pa with a growth rate of 1.5% pa. All results are shown in today’s dollars. Additional assumptions are outlined in the ‘Super withdrawal estimator’. The above table is provided for illustrative purposes only and is not specific to the fees and costs of a particular financial product. Investment returns are not guaranteed.

Five things to think about before applying

We know that many Australians are doing it tough and being able to access their super early has made it possible to pay bills or debts. But before taking steps to get early access to super, Martina Taylor, Superannuation Consultant, talks about five things to think about:

  1. Eligibility*
  2. Short-term consequences
  3. Long-term impact on your retirement
  4. Other financial support
  5. Insurance in super

*The Government has since extended the application period to 31 December 2020.

Further reading: Managing the COVID-19 crisis–an update on Government policies that might affect you

The application process and next steps

If you've decided to apply for early release of super due to COVID-19, refer to the FAQs below for details on the application process and tips to make it a smooth process. Here's a timeline of what you can expect:

*This is an estimate only and may vary depending on individual applications.

Plum is aware of current scams targeting Australians. Please see FAQ below for more information.

FAQs

Coronavirus & early access to super

  • The amount paid reflects the available funds in your super account. The balance the ATO have for your account was correct at 30 June 2019, and your account balance may have changed since that date due to:

    • contributions added
    • tax applied
    • fees paid
    • any insurance premiums paid; and/or
    • market movements.
  • If the balance in any of your super accounts is less than $6,000, you won’t pay more than 3% pa in fees and costs. These fees and costs include administration fees, investment fees, and indirect costs. We’ll assess your balances at the end of the financial year (30 June each year) or when you exit, and if you’ve paid more than 3% pa in fees and costs on any account with a balance of less than $6,000, you’ll be refunded the difference.

    For more information about fees, check your Product Disclosure Statement.

  • If your account has a zero balance, your account will remain open for three months from the date of that payment.  At the end of the period, if neither you or your employer have made any contributions, rollovers or insurance premium payments, we’ll close the account and let you know.

    Please refer to the FAQs under Coronavirus & the impact to your insurance in super for the implications of a zero balance on your insurance in super.

  • Once you have applied, here are the next steps for successful applications:

    • The ATO assesses and approves the request
    • The ATO provides Plum with a determination, optimally the next business day
    • Plum receives the information from the ATO and processes it
    • Plum makes the payment into your nominated bank account, targeting within five business days
    • If we have your mobile number, we’ll let you know via SMS once we’ve completed your payment
  • To be eligible for early release of super you must satisfy any one of the following requirements:

    • You are unemployed.
    • You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance.
    • On or after 1 January 2020:
      -  you were made redundant
      -  your working hours were reduced by 20% or more, or
      -  if you’re a sole trader your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.


    These payments will be tax-free and won’t be assessable when determining your entitlement to Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs entitlements.
     

    Can Australians living overseas access the early release of super scheme?

    Australian citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for the scheme. New Zealand citizens with Australian held super are also eligible.

    Temporary residents are not eligible to apply for the scheme in the 2020/21 financial year.

    Further information is available at ato.gov.au

  • How to apply

    To access the second early release of super, you’ll need to submit an application to the ATO from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020.

    The maximum amount that eligible people can access is $10,000. You’re only able to submit one application per financial year. For example, if you apply to release $8,000 from 1 July 2020, you won’t be able to submit a second application for the additional $2,000 to top up to the maximum of $10,000.

    Applications for release cannot be made directly to the fund and must be made via the ATO.

    These are the steps to follow:

    1. Sign in to your myGov account at my.gov.au or create one by selecting create an account and authenticate your identity. If you haven’t yet linked the ATO to your MyGov account, there will be some additional steps you’ll need to follow.
    2. Complete the application form at myGov. If you’re unable to access online services, call the ATO for further guidance.
    3. Certify that you’re eligible to receive the benefit. You won’t need to provide evidence when you submit your application, but the ATO has provided an update that they may request evidence later to confirm you were eligible for a release. Penalties may apply for false declarations.
    4. Review a list of open accounts including the last account balance reported to the ATO. If you have a low account balance, it is worth confirming the current balance with your fund to ensure your request can be processed without delay.
    5. Input the amount you wish to access from each account (must not exceed $10,000 in total).
    6. Input your nominated bank account details (account name, BSB and account number). You should make sure this information is complete and correct to avoid any delay in receiving your funds.
    7. Authorise the ATO to provide your application to your super fund, who will action the release of your super into your nominated bank account.


    Tips to make the process smooth

    We want to get your money to you as quickly as possible. To do that, please make sure that you’ve covered off the following:

    • Make sure that your personal details are updated with us before you lodge your application with the ATO. If these are changed after we receive ATO approval, you may need to complete additional security checks and this will delay your payment.
    • Make sure you have all the documents and details you will need for your application, especially evidence that you’ve been made redundant or had hours reduced. in case you’re asked by the ATO to provide this in the future.
    • Make sure that your super account balance is up to date. What you see on myGov may be out of date. 
    • Check that the bank account details you enter on your ATO application are exactly as they appear on your bank statement (including your account name). We will automatically load the details we receive from the ATO and payments are transferred using these details. If they're not exact, your bank will reject the payment and send it back to us.
    • Check that the bank account you want your payment made to can accept external funds. Term deposits cannot accept extra money during the term of the account and many online or incentive saver accounts can only accept transfers from other accounts in your name held with the same banking institution. If you ask us to pay into an account that doesn’t accept external funds, your bank will reject the payment and send it back to us.

    To find out more about what documents are required, please refer to the application process in your myGov account at my.gov.au You won’t need to supply these documents to Plum.

    More information is also available at ato.gov.au or my.gov.au

  • Yes, the early access to super rules do not prevent you from applying under existing provisions such as severe financial hardship or compassionate grounds. If you meet the criteria for both, then you can apply to receive both. For further information on eligibility criteria to access super due to severe financial hardship or compassionate grounds, visit the ATO website.

    Other services are also available to help people in financial stress.  

    National Debt Helpline

    The National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems. They’re  not a lender and don’t ‘sell’ anything or make money from you. Their professional financial counsellors offer a free, independent, and confidential service.

    If your matter is more complex, they can refer you to your closest face-to-face financial counselling service.

    They can also put you in touch with the right service you require, such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation services, and health services.

    See National Debt Helpline for more information or call them on 1800 007 007.

    Speak to your bank or insurance provider

    All banks have hardship programs under which some of your debts may be waived or reduced, or mortgages deferred.

    People with insurance policies should also contact their insurance policy and discuss the possibility of deferring insurance premiums.

    Renters rights

    State and territory governments have placed restrictions on evictions of people who may have fallen behind in their rent payments because of COVID-19.

    Terms and details vary by state and territory. For more information see:

Coronavirus & the impact to your insurance in super

  • Your insurance may be impacted. This is because your insurance premiums are paid from your Plum super account, unless your employer pays for the cost of your insurance cover. So, you must have enough super savings to pay for the cover.

    It’s important to take a moment and think carefully about whether you want to have insurance as part of your super.

    You can find out more about insurance in super here

    And don’t forget, you can change or cancel your insurance at any time, by calling us.

  • If you are not receiving regular contributions and your account balance can no longer cover the cost of your premiums, your insurance may be switched-off.

    Please refer to your insurance guide for more details on when your insurance cover may be switched-off as a result of this, and how to start it up again.

  • Plum is aware of current scam phone calls targeting Australians. The caller may claim to be from an organisation that can assist you to get early access to your superannuation. The caller may ask for your personal and superannuation details.

    If you ever have any concerns as to the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call the company back on a publicly listed number.

    If you have received this type of call and have provided information about your superannuation, please contact Plum immediately on 1300 55 7586.

    If you receive a text message saying your superannuation fund is going to release your super, and you did not request this, contact us.

    If you have provided personal or banking details, please also contact your financial institution.

    You can also read our article for more information, or visit the Scamwatch website for more information about this scam.

    This information is current as at May 2020.

Important information
Interests in the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024 are issued by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633, AFSL 236465 (NULIS). Plum Super is a part of the MLC Super Fund.