You may be able to access super if you’re experiencing financial difficulty under certain circumstances.

Early release on compassionate grounds is a situation where you are granted access to part or all your super before reaching preservation age.

You may be eligible if you can show there is no way you can cover the expenses arising from a particular circumstance.

Find out more

Download the fact sheet

Steps to accessing super on compassionate grounds

  1. Decide if you meet the specified conditions

    A number of conditions specified by Medicare, acting as an agency for the Department of Human Services (DHS), must be met before a super can be released on compassionate grounds.

    Please read our Access to super on compassionate grounds fact sheet or contact us for more information.

  2. Apply to the Department of Human Services (DHS)

    If you think that one or more of the specified compassionate grounds applies to you, you can apply to the Department of Human Services DHS online through www.humanservices.gov.au.

    You can also make an application through your MyGov account if you have registered for Centrelink online services already. If you can’t apply online, you will need to call DHS for instructions.

    You will need to provide supporting documentation with your application and identify yourself to DHS when you apply. DHS will assess your application as soon as possible after they have received all the required information from you. Once your application has been assessed, DHS will write to you with their decision and their reasons for that decision.

    If the DHS approves the early release of your super, you must then apply to First State Super for payment (see Step 3). If you have any questions about Step 2 please contact DHS directly.

    Website: www.humanservices.gov.au

    Phone: 1300 131 060 (+61 3 6222 2189 outside Australia)

    Post: Early Release of Superannuation Benefits

    PO Box 7832, Canberra ACT 2610

  3. Apply to First State Super

    If the DHS approves the early release of your benefit, please send the following documents to First State Super:

    • DHS letter of approval of the early release of your benefit (original or certified copy);
    • a completed Application for early release of a benefit on specified compassionate grounds form, which is available on our website and from customer service;
    • proof of identity documents as outlined on the application form and a copy of your bank statement, if you would like us to pay your benefit directly to your bank account.

    Provided all the documents are in order and payment is approved, the payment will be made in accordance with the instructions on the application form or as directed by DHS.

Conditions of compassionate grounds release

Your super may be used to fund medical or dental expenses that aren’t readily available through the public health system or covered by your health insurance.

To satisfy the Department of Human Services' requirements, the condition must be either:

  • life-threatening
  • acute or chronic physical pain
  • acute or chronic mental pain.

Payments can be used to cover the costs of transportation to and from treatment.

If you are at risk of having your house sold by the mortgage lender, you may be able to access your super on compassionate grounds.

Access will not be granted if you are unable to pay rent, or if your mortgage repayments are:

  • not yet in arrears;
  • already in arrears, but not to the extent that the lender has decided to sell;
  • for a property that belongs to your dependant, other family member or a friend; or
  • for any property other than your primary home (i.e. this does not include investment properties or second homes).
Your super may be accessed to pay for modifications to your car or home that are needed to support the special needs of someone with a severe disability. This extends to both you and your dependents.

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can apply for immediate release of your super, tax free.

Your super can also be used to cover the costs of a death in the family, such as funeral expenses, burial or cremation. This extends only to your immediate dependants. 

Tax on withdrawals

Any payments you receive before reaching your preservation age will generally not be tax free.

Depending on your age and whether you’ve given us your tax file number, payments have a taxable and non-taxable component.

The taxable component of a payment made before your preservation age is taxed at 20%, plus any applicable levies.