Contributing to super after 65

With Australians living for longer, not everyone is ready to sign off from work permanently, and get their retirement started, at 65. 

If you plan to work a little longer and want to continue to contribute to your super to build your retirement nest egg, here’s some of the ways you still can.

Employer-paid contributions

If you’re between 65 and 74 and still working, the rules around employer-paid super contributions don’t change. Generally speaking, you’re eligible to receive super from your employer if you earn more than $450 in a month and are aged over 18. It doesn’t matter if your job is permanent, or casual.

The work test

To be eligible to receive or make voluntary contributions into your super after the age of 67, you need to meet the ‘work test’ or ‘work test exemption’. The work test means you need to have been gainfully employed or self-employed (for gain or reward) for at least 40 hours in a period of not more than 30 consecutive days in the financial year (ending 30 June) before you make the contribution.^

The work test exemption can be used if you are aged between 67 and 74 and don’t satisfy the work test, if you:

  • Satisfied the work test in the financial year prior, to making the voluntary contribution,
  • You had a total super balance of less than $300,000 at the end of the previous financial year

It is important that you haven’t previously made a voluntary contribution under this exemption before, as this exemption can only be used once in your lifetime.

If you are under age 67, you can make voluntary personal contributions without needing to meet the work test or work test exemption.

Other contributions you can make

1. Concessional contributions

Generally, if you are aged between 67 and 74 and meet the work test, you can contribute to your superannuation out of your income, before tax is paid. An example of this is salary sacrifice. Salary sacrifice is where you nominate a certain portion of your before-tax salary to be paid as an extra contribution to super rather than receiving the money in your take-home pay.

The general cap on concessional contributions is $25,000 per financial year for the 2020/21 financial year. You may have a higher concessional cap if you are eligible to carry forward unused concessional cap amounts. You can read more about contribution caps on the ATO website.

2. Non-concessional contributions

These include contributions to your superannuation you make from your income after you have paid tax on it, for which you have not claimed a tax deduction. Other contributions that are counted as non-concessional contributions include:

  • contributions made by your spouse into your account; and
  • concessional contributions made in excess of the concessional contributions cap that are not released from super under the relevant release authority.

3. Government Co-contributions

The government may make a superannuation co-contribution to your superannuation account up to a maximum of $500 if you are a low or middle-income earner and make a personal after-tax contribution to your superannuation. For the 2020/21 financial year to be eligible, you must:

  • Make an eligible personal (after-tax) super contribution during the financial year
  • Earn less than $54,837 before tax 
  • Be less than 71 years old at the end of the financial year
  • Have more than 10% of your total income come from employment related activities, carrying on a business or a combination of these 
  • Not hold a temporary visa at any point during the financial year (unless you are a New Zealand citizen, or it was a prescribed visa)
  • Lodge your tax return for the financial year
  • Have a total super balance less than the transfer balance cap ($1.6 million for the 2020/21 financial year) at the end of 30 June of the previous financial year
  • Have not contributed more than your non-concessional contribution cap.

4. Spouse contributions

If your spouse or partner is a low-income earner, he or she may be able to claim a tax offset of up to $540 under certain conditions if they make a non-concessional contribution to your superannuation. Alternatively, your spouse may be able to split their concessional contributions made during the financial year with you into your superannuation fund. By making a contribution yourself to your partner’s super account, you could benefit from a tax rebate.

5. Downsizer

For some Australians, downsizing your family home can be a useful way to contribute a large sum into your super. If you are aged 65 or over, you may be eligible to contribute up to $300,000 ($600,000 combined for a couple) from the proceeds of the sale of your principal residence to your superannuation as a downsizer contribution. Eligible downsizer contributions do not count towards your concessional or non-concessional contribution caps – if you provide your super fund with the appropriate form before or at the time you make the contribution, nor will you need to meet rules around existing maximum total superannuation balances, the work test or maximum ages for contributions.

More information on downsizing can be found here.

Are there limits on how much I can contribute into my super?

  • The general concessional contributions cap is $25,000 per financial year for the 2020/21 financial year. You may have a higher concessional cap by carrying forward your unused concessional cap amounts accrued from 1 July 2018 (for up to five financial years) and your total super balance was less than $500,000 at the end of the previous financial year.
  • The concessional contributions cap includes employer-paid contributions, contributions made under a salary sacrifice arrangement, and any personal after-tax contributions that you have claimed a deduction on.
  • The non-concessional contributions cap is $100,000 per financial year for the 2020/21 financial year. If you are aged between 67 years and 74 years, you may still be able to make non-concessional contributions if you meet the work test, or the work test exemption criteria.
    Spouse contributions can only be made if you are gainfully employed*. Once you turn 75, spouse contributions can’t be made.
  • If at 30 June in the previous financial year, your total superannuation balance is greater than or equal to $1.6 million, you won’t be able to make any non-concessional contributions to super.


Next: How much will you need to enjoy your retirement?

^Prospective employment cannot be taken into account in relation to this work test – you must have worked at least 40 hours in the financial year before we can accept your contribution.
* Gainfully employed means employed or self-employed (for gain or reward) for at least 40 hours in a period of not more than 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which the contribution is made.

Retirement solutions from BT

Explore our flexible solutions to manage your super savings into retirement.

This calculator allows you to estimate the annual income you might need to support a retirement lifestyle based on the expenses you input.

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This information is current as at 20 November 2020.

The article was prepared by BT, a part of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 233714. This article provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

This article does contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, BT accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.

This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to these factors before acting on it.