The rules of super by age

The rules of super vary according to your age - your date of birth can impact when and how much you can contribute to super and when you can access it.

Growing your super

Generally, if you earn $450 or more (before tax) in a calendar month, your employer is required to pay superannuation contributions worth 10% (2021/22) of your base wage or salary known as Superannuation Guarantee contributions (SG). If you are aged under 18 years, or if you work in a private or domestic capacity (for example, you are a nanny), you will also need to work more than 30 hours per week to qualify for employer-paid superannuation contributions.

You can continue to receive superannuation guarantee contributions from your employer right up to the day you retire, regardless of your age.

Super caps by age

Annual limits apply to how much you can add to your super depending on the type of contribution and your age.

Before-tax contributions

Before-tax (concessional) superannuation contributions – including salary sacrifice contributions plus employer contributions, are generally limited to $27,500 in the 2021/22 financial year.

In addition, workers with less than $500,000 in superannuation at the end of the previous financial year may be able to contribute more than the general concessional cap by carrying forward their unused concessional cap amounts (accrued from 1 July 2018) for up to five financial years.

After-tax contributions

Superannuation contributions made using after-tax money (non-concessional contributions) are limited to $110,000 in the 2021/22 financial year, or $330,000 as long as you make no further after-tax contributions for the following two years.

If your total superannuation balance is $1.7 million or more, you will not be able to make additional after-tax contributions.  There are also restrictions on the maximum amount you can contribute if your total superannuation balance is between $1.48 and $1.7 million on 30 June at the end of the previous financial year.  

Once you reach age 67, you must meet the work test or qualify for the work test exemption before you can make voluntary after-tax contributions^. The work test requires you to work for at least 40 hours over any consecutive 30-day period during the financial year.

If you are aged between 67 and 74 you may make voluntary contributions where you do not satisfy the work test provided that:

  • you satisfied the work test in the financial year prior to the financial year in which the contributions are made,
  • you had a total superannuation balance of less than $300,000 at the end of the previous financial year, and
  • you have not used the work test exemption previously.

Once you reach age 75, you can no longer make voluntary contributions to superannuation.

Downsizer contributions

If you’re aged 65 years or older* and meet the eligibility requirements, you may be able to make a downsizer contribution into your superannuation of up to $300,000 after the sale of your main residence, which you need to have owned for at least 10 years.

There are several benefits to this. Your downsizer contribution isn’t a non-concessional contribution, it doesn’t count towards your contributions caps and you can still make it regardless of your total super balance.

The contribution of up to $300,000 must be made within 90 days of the sale and your spouse may also be eligible to contribute up to $300,000 if they’re aged 65 or older*. A further benefit is there’s no upper age limit nor any work test eligibility.

Accessing your superannuation

You can start to withdraw from your super account when you reach ‘preservation age’. This varies depending on when you were born as shown in the table below.

Date of birth

Preservation age

Before 1 July 1960

55

1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961

56

1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962

57

1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963

58

1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964

59

From 1 July 1964

60

Once you reach age 65, you can access your superannuation even if you haven’t retired.

Next: Retirement planning in your 50s

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^In the 2021 Federal Budget it was proposed that from 1 July 2022 individuals aged 67 to 74 will no longer need to meet the work test when making, or receiving, non-concessional super contributions or salary sacrificed contributions. Personal deductible contributions would still be subject to meeting the work test.

* In the 2021 Federal Budget it was proposed that the eligibility age for downsizer contributions will be reduced to age 60 with effect from 1 July 2022.

This information is current as at 1 July 2021.

The information provided is factual only and does not constitute financial product advice. Before acting on it, you should seek independent financial and tax advice about its appropriateness to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

This Information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts 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.

The tax position described is a general statement and is for guidance only. It has not been prepared by a registered tax agent. It does not constitute tax advice and is based on current tax laws and our interpretation. Your individual situation may differ and you should seek independent professional tax advice.