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When Can you Access Money in your SMSF Legally?

We get this question quite often: When can I access my super? Generally, access to your super is possible only if:

  • You retire and are 60 or older; or
  • You turn 65 (regardless of whether you’re still working).

Early access to superannuation is possible only under very limited circumstances such as terminal illness, permanent incapacity, and severe financial hardship, and there are very strict protocols to follow before any funds are paid out.

When you have a Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF), members have full access to the superfund, and it can sometimes become tempting for members to access these funds during a financial crisis. If you access your superannuation simply due to financial strains without meeting the early access requirements, the transaction becomes illegal.

There are two common ways illegal early access occurs:

  • When the trustees (or their business) are in financial distress, and they use the superannuation account for a short-term loan; or
  • A promoter offers access through a scheme—often getting people to establish an SMSF and roll over their superannuation into the SMSF.