COVID-19 FAQS: temporary access to superannuation

 

1. Can you explain the government changes?

The Federal Government is allowing people who are financially affected by the COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 Financial Year and a further $10,000 the following Financial Year 2020-21.

While superannuation helps people save for retirement, the Federal Government recognises that some people are significantly affected by the global pandemic and accessing some of their superannuation today may be necessary to alleviate short-term financial hardship.

2. I am in financial difficulty because of COVID-19, can I get access to my super?

If you are eligible, you can access up to $10,000 of your superannuation in the 2019-20 Financial Year and a further $10,000 the following Financial Year 2020-21.

3. How do I know if I am eligible?

To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed; or
  • you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • on or after 1 January 2020: you were made redundant; or your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

For more information visit the ATO website.

4. I have a Transition To Retirement (TTR) account, am I eligible to access my super early?

An early release of super payment can only be made from a super account. If you have nominated a TTR account, we will seek to release the money from your super account. We may contact you regarding your request.
 

5. Can I gain early access to my super if I have a Defined Benefit account?

Defined Benefit accounts have been excluded from The Government’s early release rules. However, Defined Benefit members who have a voluntary account (this includes roll-ins or transfers) will be able to apply for the early release of their super. Please note, if the voluntary account has less than $10,000, you will only be able to apply for the funds available.

6. How do I apply?

If you are eligible for this new ground of early release, you will need to apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website. You will also need to certify that you meet the eligibility criteria.  If you cannot apply via the myGov website, contact the ATO Helpline.

You cannot apply through your super fund.

7. When can I apply?

You will be able to apply for early release of your superannuation from 20 April, 2020.

You will need to lodge your application with the ATO:

  • by 30 June 2020 for a 2019/20 release; and/or
  • from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020 for a 2020/21 release. 

8. How will I know that I will get the payment?

After the ATO has processed your application, they will issue you with a determination. The ATO will also provide a copy of this to your super fund. Your super fund will then make the payment to you, without you needing to apply directly to your super fund. For more information visit the ATO website.

9. What happens if my bank rejects the payment because my bank account details are incorrect?

We will contact you and request the correct information. 

10. What do I need to do to apply?

Applications can be submitted online through myGov:

  • until 30 June 2020 for the 2019–20 year
  • between 1 July 2020 and 24 September 2020, for the 2020–21 year.

Before making a claim, it is a good idea to check your super balance, you can do this by:

  1. Check your total super balance at ATO online services . There will be an 'as at' or 'effective' date for the balance. This means your account balance may have changed.
  2. Login to mercersuper.com/login and check your current account balance.
  3. Check the last statement we issued to you. This might be a printed version or an email.
  4. Call 1800 682 525, but please note, we have had a large increase in members calling and there may be delays answering your calls.

11. How long do I have to apply?

Applications for this Financial Year (2019-20) can be made until 30 June 2020.

Applications for the 2020-21 Financial Year can be made from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020.

The Government initiative will close after 24 September 2020, but applications received prior to the cut-off dates may be processed after this date.

12. When will I receive the SMS notification from the ATO that my application has been successful?

THe ATO will send you an SMS, once they have provided us with your information. 

13. I am a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), what do I need to do to apply?

Separate arrangements will apply if you are a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Further guidance will be available on the ATO website.

14. I’m an Australian citizen living overseas who has been impacted by COVID-19, am I still eligible?

Yes, this is available to all Australian citizens and permanent residents. New Zealand citizens, with Australian held super, are also eligible. Temporary residents are not eligible.

15. I’m a temporary resident, can I access my super?

Yes, the stimulus package now includes eligible temporary residents. You can apply to access up to $10,000 of your super before 1 July 2020.

To be eligible for early release of super, you must be in one of the following circumstances:

  • You hold a student visa 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 your immediate living expenses.

16. Will this affect the tax payable on my current Financial Hardship or Compassionate Grounds Payments that are not yet paid?

No, zero tax only applies to the special COVID-19 releases. Any other release application are already in progress will be processed under the standard rules, including the tax payable.

17. How will it be paid/who should I advise my bank account details to?

The ATO will require your bank details, it will be requested when you lodge your application. The ATO will also ask you for your permission to pass on your bank details so we can release of the money into that account. There is no need to contact your fund.

18. How long will the payment take to be processed?

Once the ATO have processed your application they will send you a letter of approval or rejection (called a Determination).

Once your application is approved you do not need to contact us. We will make the payment to you without you needing to apply directly.

19. When will I see the money in my bank account?

We expect to process your payment within five business days, but please note it may take a little longer for the money to appear in your bank account.

20. What happens if I want to access my super, but I have received a letter saying my super will transferred to the ATO at the end of April?

The ATO has deferred the transfer of inactive accounts from April 2020 until the 31st Oct 2020. The money will remain in your account and you will be able to apply for early access.

21. Why is my balance on myGov account different to my super account?

The balances stored on myGov are as at the last reported date (for example 30th June 2019).

You can still apply to have an early release of your super, even if your balance on myGov is not current. We are working with the ATO to display more up-to-date balances.

22. Will I need to provide Bank statements to be verified?

No, you will only need to supply your bank account details to the ATO on your application form and declare they are correct.

23. What if I don’t receive a determination letter from the ATO?

If you have applied and received a determination letter from the ATO but we haven’t received a request to pay then then you would need to contact the ATO to follow up. We will be receiving these determinations electronically directly from the ATO.

24. What happens if my application is rejected?

If your application is rejected you will be notified via your MyGov account in 2-3 days. We will have no visibility of rejections.

25. What happens if I request $10,000, but don’t have enough in my account? Will you let me know or will you just release what’s in the account and close it?

If a nominated fund holds less than the amount nominated in a Determination, we are required to pay the amount available, which will be less than the release amount you applied for. This payment may cause your account to be closed and you will be notified at a later date.

26. What if I want to make a second application because I didn't ask for the full $10,000?

Only one COVID-19 application is allowed per financial year. if you apply for less than $10,000 you cannot apply for more funds in the same year, even if the total would not exceed the $10,000 maximum.

For example, if you apply for release of $6,000 in 2019/20 then you cannot later apply for release of a further $4,000 for the year. You will need to make a new application from 1 July to 24 September 2020.

27. Can I revoke my application if I change my mind?

An application can only be revoked if a genuine error or mistake has been made.

28. Can the release be taken from multiple super accounts?

A release amount can be split across a number of super accounts. You will be able to specify on your myGov application which fund or funds you want the release amount drawn from.

29. Will the super payment be taxed?

No, you don’t need to pay tax on the money released and it will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

30. Can I return the money into my super if I don’t need it all?

You can make a member contribution back into your super account and this would count towards your your non-concessional caps.

31. Do I need to be aware of scams?

Yes, unfortunately some people are taking advantage of people who genuinely need to withdraw money from their super account. Early access of your super is a free government service, designed to support you during the impacts of COVID-19. Be aware of scams and schemes asking you to pay to release your super.

The ATO are concerned about the following scams or schemes where people:

  • impersonate the ATO, or a trusted organisation like your super fund, to steal your money or personal identifying information
  • approach you and charge you for services that are free, like gaining early access to your superannuation.

If you receive a phone call, text message or email offering to help you release your super early, do not:

  • provide your personal information
  • click on any links
  • share your myGov login details.

32. Can I claim from lost super?

No, you are not able to claim against lost super. Any questions related to lost super should be directed to the ATO.

33. Can I request early release on my Pension account?

No, super cannot be released from a pension account under the COVID-19 early release arrangements.

34. Will I be charged exit fees?

The early release payment will be treated as per the funds standard process for making a release.

35. Can I expect to receive all of the money I apply for?

We will only pay the amount that is available in your super account.

If you apply for more money than is your account, you can expect to only receive the amount of money you have in your account. There may be a range of different reasons why the amount in your account is slightly different to what you expected, these include: administration fees deducted from your account, changes to unit pricing, insurance premiums may have been deducted or the ATO may have an older account balance on file.

36. I applied for $10,000, why did I only receive $10 in my bank account?

If you received $10.00 instead of $10,000, there may be an issue with how the application was completed. We recommend reviewing your application for via MyGov to confirm the amount requested. If a genuine error was made during the application process, you will need to contact the ATO to discuss the matter. The money we release is directed by the ATO, and we are unable pay more than the approved amount.

37. Why can I see the payment processed on my online account, but I haven’t received the money yet?

This relates to the unit price that has been used to process the payment. All super funds use unit pricing to determine the changing dollar value of your super balance. Every super fund is different, but generally you may see a two day delay in the processing of the payment and receiving the money in your bank account – this is the standard way super funds release money to members.