Early access to your super due to financial hardship

What you need to know

  • If you’re eligible, you will be able to access up to a maximum of $10,000 of your super in the 2019/20 financial year and another $10,000 in the 2020/21 financial year. You can only make one application per financial year for any amount up to $10,000.

  • Before applying, make time to understand how an early withdrawal could impact your financial future. Read the five things to consider before accessing superannuation early.

  • You can apply for early access from 20 April 2020 up to and including 24 September 2020.

  • Temporary residents can only access up to a maximum of $10,000 in the 2019/20 financial year, for applications made up to and including 30 June 2020.

  • You apply online directly through myGov.

  • You cannot apply directly to BT.

  • When you submit the application, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will request that you nominate a super fund account(s) and your preferred bank details for the payment.

  • The ATO will consider each application and advise if it is approved or declined.

  • If the application is approved, the ATO will provide a copy of the determination to your super fund(s) who will make the payment to you from your super account to the bank account you nominated as part of the application to the ATO.

  • Early access payments are tax free.

  • Early access payments won’t affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

What if I don't have $10,000 in one super fund?

If you are eligible to access your super early and your balance is less than $10,000, we will be able to release the super amount available in your account (up to $10,000).

Note: If you have multiple super accounts you will be able to specify in your application a withdrawal amount from each account, up to the maximum amount of $10,000 in total.

For example: John has $8,000 in Super fund A and has $4,000 in Super fund B.  If John applies to the ATO to withdraw $10,000, John will be able to access $8,000 from Super fund A and $2,000 from Super fund B, or any other combination from the two funds up to a maximum of $10,000 in total. Note, that the request to access both accounts need to be in a single application.

What happens to the insurance in my super?

Following the release of your early access super funds, if you have funds in your account remaining, any existing insurance cover you may have will not be impacted provided the account balance remaining is sufficient to continue paying the insurance premiums.

However, if you withdraw your total super balance, any insurance cover you have may be cancelled.

Find out more about changes to insurance within super for low balance accounts.

Who is eligible?

To apply for early release if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements at the time of application:

  • You are unemployed; or 

  • You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (including single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or

  • On or after 1 January 2020, either:

    • you were made redundant; or 
    • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more; or 
    • if you are a sole trader - your business was suspended or there was a reduction in turnover of 20% or more.
  • If you are a temporary resident, to apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

    • You hold a student visa which you have held for 12 months or more and you are unable to meet immediate living expenses.
    • You are a temporary skilled work visa holder, your working hours have reduced to zero, and you remain engaged with your employer
    • You are a temporary resident visa holder (excluding student or skilled worker visas) and you cannot meet immediate living expenses.

    Note: Temporary residents can only access up to a maximum of $10,000 in the 2019/20 financial year, for applications made up to and including 30 June 2020. Temporary residents are not able to make an application for the 2020/21 financial year.

I have an SMSF. Can I access my super early?

If you are an SMSF member, you will need to meet the same eligibility requirements as listed above and will also need to make your application directly through myGov.

The ATO will then issue the SMSF trustee with a determination advising them of their eligibility to release an amount. Once the determination is received, they will be authorised to make the payment to your nominated bank account.

For more information visit the ATO COVID-19 SMSF page.

How do I apply?

If you are eligible, you can apply online directly through myGov for early access to your super from 20 April 2020.

  • Determine that you meet the eligibility criteria.

  • Apply online directly through myGov.

  • You will need to apply before 1 July 2020 to access up to $10,000 for the 2019/2020 financial year. You will also need to apply between 1 July 2020 and up to and including 24 September 2020, to access a further $10,000 for the 2020/2021 financial year (if you are not a temporary resident).

  • Nominate your super funds and preferred bank details in the application. You can find your super fund details on your account statement or by logging into your account.

  • The ATO will advise you of the outcome of your application.

  • For approved applications, the ATO will provide a copy of the determination to you and another to your super fund. 

  • If we have your mobile number and email address on file, we will let you know once we have made the payment to your account via SMS or email.

Are my details up to date with you? What if the ATO give you different details to what I have with BT?

Before submitting your application through myGov, log in to your super account at bt.com.au/login and check we have your current contact details such as mobile number and email address. You will also be able to check the current balance of your account.

Why is my super balance in myGov appearing as $0?

Your super balance in myGov and ATO online may be appearing as $0, or ‘not reported’ as you may have commenced a new account with BT after 30 June 2019. This includes instances where we may have moved your account to a new BT Super account which we have previously communicated to you. Please note, even though the amount displayed for your current balance is $0, you can still enter a specified amount (up to the maximum of $10,000) to apply for your early access to super.

We provide super balances to the ATO at the end of each financial year and therefore your account may not have been included in the last report provided to the ATO.

Log in to your super account at bt.com.au/login to check your current super balance.

Why is the amount I received different?

The amount you receive may be different to the amount you requested if the amount you requested is higher than your account balance at the time we processed your payment.  

The ATO receives super balance updates each year around 30 June, so the balance that appears in your myGov account may be several months out of date. The most accurate balance is available at the online portal for your fund or by contacting us over the phone.   

We have recently sent updated balances to the ATO for members that were transferred to BT Super earlier this year, so that the balances that appear in myGov are closer to your current balance. Super balances can go up or down on a daily basis due to movements in the underlying investments, such as shares, contributions being paid into the account or fees or insurance premiums being deducted from your account.

It’s important to note that share markets have fallen significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, meaning many people have seen their super balances reduce.

If you have requested to withdraw your full balance, we’ll keep your super account open to make it easier for you if you would like to make future super contributions or for tax purposes (for BT Wrap, Panorama and Asgard).  This will also ensure your insurance cover will continue, if you had any. To maintain your insurance you’ll need to make a contribution for the amount of the insurance premium. If you would like to close your account please contact our Customer Relations team.

When will the payment be made once I have made the request to the ATO?

The ATO will review your information and determine if your application is approved or declined. For approved applications, the ATO will provide a copy of the determination to you and another to your super fund.

My application has been approved by the ATO, when will I receive my payment?

We are working hard to process requests as quickly as possible to support our customers through this challenging time.

Generally, we expect to make payments within five business days from when we receive an approval from the ATO. The daily ATO file of approvals can be sent at any time of the day, and sometimes overnight, which may extend the time for us to start processing by 1-2 days.

If we have incorrect information, or we need to sell investments in your super account to fund the payment, which can be the case with products such as BT Wrap and Asgard, it may take longer than five days. If we have incorrect information, we may need to contact you to confirm your details.

We will send you an SMS or email (using information we have on file) when we have made the payment to your bank account. Depending on your bank, it can take a further one to two business days for the money to arrive in your account. We recognise this is a challenging time and we appreciate your patience.

I’ve been told the details I have provided you are incorrect or need to be changed?

If the details that the ATO sends to us do not match the details we have on file, we may need to contact you to confirm these details prior to processing the payment. We have increased our number of Customer Relations Consultants so this process can be accelerated.

You have had my request more than 5 days, where is my payment?

Generally, we expect to make payments within five business days from when we receive an approval from the ATO. The daily ATO file of approvals can be sent at any time of the day, and sometimes overnight, which may extend the time for us to start processing by 1 to 2 days. It’s possible that we have incorrect information in relation to your request, which is delaying our processing, or that we need to sell investments and in these instances it may take longer than five days. We may also need to speak to you to confirm your details.

We are doing everything possible – including boosting our Operations team by several hundred people - so we can process requests as quickly as possible.

We will send you an SMS or email (using information we have on file) when we have made the payment to your bank account. Depending on your bank, it can take a further one to two business days for the money to arrive in your account. We recognise this is a challenging time and we appreciate your patience.

How will I know once the funds are paid to my bank account?

If we have your mobile phone number and email address, we’ll notify you either via SMS or email once the payment has been made to the bank account you nominated to the ATO when you submitted the application.

Can I withdraw more than once?

You can only make one application per financial year for any amount up to $10,000.

If you’re eligible, you will be able to access up to a maximum of $10,000 of your super in the 2019/20 financial year and 2020/21 financial year.

Note: If you are a temporary resident, you can only make one application to access your super during the 2019/20 financial year. You are not able to make an application for the 2020/21 financial year.

Will BT be able to pay my early release of super payment?

BT is confident in being able to facilitate all early access to super requests from eligible members, as BT’s investment options, including MySuper LifeStage options, have minimal exposure to illiquid assets.

Will I get taxed on this payment?

No, this early withdrawal payment is considered tax free and should not impact any social security benefits you may be receiving.

We're here to help

For more information visit ato.gov.au/coronavirus

If you have any questions, speak to your financial adviser, call our Customer Relations team on 132 135 from 8:30am to 5:30pm (Sydney time) Monday to Friday, or contact us any time via our online form at bt.com.au/contact-us

Please note we are currently experiencing higher than usual call volumes. We are working hard to answer your call.

For up-to-date information about your funds, login to the app, online portal or online banking site relevant to your investment.

During this changing environment, we know you may be looking for information on how we are managing this event now and in the future.

Important information

Information is current as at 17 April 2020. The information in this email is factual only and does not constitute financial product advice.

This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it you should seek financial and taxation advice to determine its appropriateness to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This email provides an overview or summary only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. An investment in a superannuation product offered through BT or Westpac is not a deposit with or any other liability of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (the Bank) or any other company in the Westpac group. It is subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment of withdrawal proceeds and loss of income and principal invested. Neither the Bank nor any other company in the Westpac group has issued, stands behind or otherwise guarantees the capital value or investment performance of any of these superannuation products.