7 steps to take before applying for early super release

15 Apr 2020

Lyn Formica

Head of SMSF Technical & Education Services

On 20 April 2020 applications will open for members seeking to access some of their super under the Government’s new early release rules. There are steps you can take now to speed up the application process and maximise the amount able to be withdrawn.

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Eligible individuals who have been financially impacted by Covid-19 are able to access up to $10,000 of their super in 2019/20 and a further $10,000 in 2020/21 under new temporary early release rules.

Applications for early release will be accepted by the ATO from Monday 20 April 2020. In the meantime, the following actions taken now will speed up the application process and maximise the amount able to be withdrawn:


Step 1

Make sure you satisfy the eligibility criteria. Penalties apply for making false and misleading statements in your application.


Step 2

Ensure you understand how the withdraw will affect your future retirement income and any insurance coverage. If you are unsure, speak with your adviser or your fund.


Step 3

If you don’t already have one, set up a myGov account and link it to the ATO.


Step 4

Register your interest in making an application by logging into your myGov account and following the “intention to access coronavirus support” instructions. The ATO will notify you by email or SMS when applications open.


Step 5

Check your current superannuation balance/s so you know how much is available in each account. You can do this in a number of ways:  

  1. Using your super fund’s online member portal.
  2. Calling your fund.
  3. Via myGov, but watch the “as at” or “effective date”. In a lot of cases, it will be 30 June 2019 meaning only your balance at 30 June 2019 is shown. It is likely to have changed since that time.
  4. Checking the last statement issued by your fund. But remember, your balance is likely to have changed since that statement was issued unless it was very recent.  


Step 6

If you have multiple balances, identify the balance/s from which you would like your early release amount to be withdrawn. Only one application can be made between 20 April and 30 June 2020 (a further application can be made between 1 July and 24 September 2020). The maximum amount that can be requested in each application is $10,000 but it can be split between several funds.

If the amount you request from a particular super account is too much (ie there’s not enough available in that account to pay it or there are other restrictions on how much of that account you can take out at any time),you will only be able to release the amount available in that account. You won’t have an opportunity to make another application until 1 July.

For example, you have 2 super accounts (one with Fund A and one with Fund B). You think the balances are $10,000 in Fund A and $3,000 in Fund B and you’d like to withdraw the maximum possible (ie $10,000). You nominate for the whole amount to be withdrawn from Fund A. The ATO processes your application and issues a determination allowing the release of $10,000 from Fund A. However, you weren’t aware that the balances in both funds had actually dropped considerably since you last checked and the amount available in Fund A is only $8,000 while Fund B has $2,500. This means when the ATO’s determination is given to Fund A, it can only pay you $8,000. You won’t be able to make another application until 1 July. If, on the other hand, you had applied for $8,000 to be released from Fund A and $2,000 from Fund B (both of which would be done on the same application), you might have found that there was enough in each fund to cover the request and give you the full $10,000.

Of course, if you have much more than $10,000 in a particular super account, you can obviously nominate to take the full amount from that fund without being too particular about double checking exactly how much you have in your account.

Otherwise you need to be very careful to know your balance/s and nominate for the monies to come from the right account/s. If you get it wrong, you won’t get another chance until 1 July.


Step 7

If all of your super is held in a Transition to Retirement Income Stream (TRIS), then there are additional steps you’ll need to take if you’d like to use the new early release rules. You’ll first need to ask your fund to move some money from the TRIS to an accumulation account for you. This process could take some time – contact your fund as soon as possible to get started. TRIS members also need to be mindful that they will still need to meet the usual rules requiring a minimum level of pension to be drawn each year.  


Summary

By following these steps, you should be ready to submit your request as soon as applications open on 20 April. Of course, you don’t need to apply immediately – applications for this financial year will not close until 30 June 2020. The ATO has indicated that approval process will take only a few days. You will receive an approval letter (called a “determination”)(or rejection) in your myGov inbox. Your super fund (assuming it is not an SMSF) will also receive a copy of that determination and will make payment to you using the bank account you nominated in the application process. If you are a member of an SMSF and you have nominated one or more of your SMSF accounts, you will need to provide a copy of the determination to the SMSF trustee so they can make payment to you.