While superannuation is intended to assist with retirement, the Australian government has recognised that the significant financial implications of COVID-19 has meant that for those most affected, accessing some of those savings today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement. As such, on 22 March 2020 the federal government announced a temporary measure, allowing for individuals to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019/20 and a further $10,000 in 2020/21.
Those eligible can apply to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) through the myGov website to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation from 20 April to 30 June 2020 for the 2019-20 year. Eligible persons will also be able to apply to access up to a further $10,000 in the 2020-21 year from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020 (when the measure ends). This blog has been prepared as a general informative guide for those considering accessing their super in light of the current financial circumstance.
Are you eligible for early access to your superannuation?
To apply for early access to your superannuation, you must certify to the ATO that you satisfy one or more of the following requirements. These criteria apply if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand.
- You are unemployed, or
- You are eligible to receive a:
- job seeker payment, or
- youth allowance for job seekers, or
- parenting payment (including the single and partnered payments), or
- special benefit, or
- On or after 1 January 2020, you:
- were made redundant, or
- had your working hours reduced by 20% or more, or
- are a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
Should you access your superannuation early?
If you are experiencing financial stress as a result of COVID-19, you may have real and immediate need to access your superannuation. Before proceeding, please be aware of other immediate financial assistance that may be available to you (such as the Job Seeker stimulus package), and the effect of accessing your superannuation early as it relates to your retirement savings.
How to apply
The application process is designed to be frictionless, with eligible individuals able to apply online through the MyGov website, so long as the eligibility criteria is met.
Your application will then be handled by the ATO. If the ATO finds you are eligible, it will notify your superannuation fund to release your superannuation payment. Payments are expected to be made within 5 days of application.
Superannuation as it relates to Family Law
In a Family Law context, the net asset pool consists of all the assets of the relationship, less its liabilities. An asset is any property of the relationship (whether tangible or intangible) regardless of whose name the property is in, that has value. Generally, the first process in a property settlement is determining what property is available to be split. Superannuation is one of the common assets that form part of the matrimonial pool, and is therefore able to be subject to a property split. As such, if a litigant does access their superannuation early, this would be reflected in a decreased asset pool and could be argued as part property settlement to the party who received such benefit early, and would need to be accounted for in the property settlement negotiations and settlement documents. Details would also need to be provided to the other spouse at the time of accessing such benefit.
If you are concerned about how this impacts you personally, we encourage you to seek financial advice.
All information in this blog post is of general nature only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.
Should you require legal assistance during this time, please contact Nicholes Family Lawyers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone at 9670 4122.