Accessing your super due to financial hardship

If you need to access your super due to severe financial hardship we’re here to guide you through the process.

Although your super typically can’t be accessed until retirement age, in situations of ‘severe financial hardship’ you may be eligible to withdraw some of your super early.

Like all other super funds, we’re only able to release your funds once you satisfy the eligibility criteria and provide all relevant documentation, which we’ve outlined below.

To help you with your claim we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

Step 1 – Understanding the rules for severe financial hardship

The first step to accessing your super under severe financial hardship is understanding the Government mandated rules including the eligibility criteria and withdrawal limits.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered eligible to access your super under severe financial hardship you must not be able to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses’.

You must also have been receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment (from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs) for a continuous period. For a full list of the eligible payments please see our Financial Hardship factsheet and application form’.

Alternatively, if you have reached your preservation age (58-60 years old) plus 39 weeks, are not gainfully employed and have been in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment for a period of no less than 39 cumulative weeks since reaching your preservation age, you may withdraw part or all of your super (and not be subject to the withdrawal limits below). If this applies to you, please call our helpline on 1800 682 525, rather than completing our application form.

If you don’t fulfil either of the above eligibility criteria, you may be eligible for early release of super due to compassionate grounds. This is a form of early release that the ATO oversees. For further information on compassionate grounds please see the ATO’s website.

Withdrawal limits

When accessing your super under severe financial hardship you can withdraw a minimum of $1000 (if your account balance is lower than $1000 you can withdraw the full balance) and up to a maximum of $10,000.

It is important to note that withdrawals are taxed as a super lump sum and you can only make one withdrawal under severe financial hardship every 12 months.

Step 2 – Acquire all the relevant documentation

Centrelink

Once you have confirmed you meet the eligibility criteria please contact Centrelink to obtain your Customer Reference Number (CRN), which we can then use as part of your application to confirm you have been receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment for the required period.

Alternatively, you can request a confirmation letter from Centrelink who will confirm you have been receiving an eligible Commonwealth income support payment for the required period. Please note this letter is only valid for 21 days, and we must receive it prior to that date.

Weekly net income, weekly expenses and outstanding arrears/liabilities

As part of the process in assessing your claim we are required to document evidence of your financial situation. So that we can do this we’ll firstly need evidence of your current net weekly (and if applicable, your partner’s and any financial dependent’s) income. This evidence should not be more than one month old.

In addition to this we’re also required to document evidence of your weekly expenses (such as rent, electricity, gas, telephone, car running costs etc.), as well as any unpaid and overdue bills, liabilities, outstanding loan or credit card repayments and any other arrears. Documents for each individual piece must be provided and cannot be dated more than one month old. For a full list of potential expenses and liabilities please see the Financial Hardship factsheet and application form.

Proof of identity

For identification purposes, you must attach a certified copy of either your driver’s licence or passport (or acceptable alternatives – for further information please see the Financial Hardship factsheet and application form).

If we do not receive appropriate certified proof of identification this may result in a delay of your payment being processed.

Step 3 – Provide us with all the relevant documentation

Once you’ve acquired all of the relevant documents, please complete and return the Financial Hardship factsheet and application form, along with all of the relevant documents to the following address:

Mercer Super Trust

GPO BOX 4303

Melbourne VIC 3001

Please note section 15 of the application form is a statutory declaration and must be completed in the presence of an authorised person.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that everyone’s situation is different, and when submitting your application form you want to avoid delaying the process by ensuring you don’t miss anything. To help with this we’ve put together a list of some frequently asked questions.

  • How long will the process or payment take?

    Provided you meet the eligibility criteria and once we’ve received all of the required documentation, we estimate it should take approximately 5-7 business days from when we receive your request to when we pay it to your nominated bank account (depending on your banking institution, it may take an additional 1-3 business days for the funds to appear in your account).

  • What if the bill or letter of demand is in my parent's name?

    Please ask your parent to complete a statutory declaration, stating the bill is in their name, however it is payable by you. 

  • How do I tell the real estate so they don't evict me?

    If you are in the final stages of the application and expecting to be paid imminently, please contact the helpline on 1800 007 007 and request an email be sent to you detailing the anticipated payment date. Alternatively, we can contact the real estate agent on your behalf if you give us authority to do so.

  • What do I do if my bills don't have a recent date?

    We’ll have to review your application and if the bill forms a large part of it, we may need to request a more recently dated bill from your creditor. Often if you explain this to the creditor they are understanding and will be able to issue a more current dated bill for you.

  • How many times can I make a hardship claim?

    Under superannuation law, you can only make one withdrawal from your super fund because of severe financial hardship in a 12 month period.

Support is available

We appreciate how stressful a time this may be for you. Please know that free and confidential support for a number of different situations is available.

Financial Counselling Australia 1800 007 007: Financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au

1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732: A free 24 hour, sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line - for anyone who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault www.1800respect.org.au

Lifeline (24 hours) 13 11 14: Providing anyone experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services www.lifeline.org.au

Kids Help Line (24 Hours) 1800 551 800: assists people aged up to 25 who are exposed to violence as adults as well as staff who have concerns about the safety of their children www.kidshelp.com.au

Relationships Australia 1300 364 277: A leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities www.relationships.com.au

MensLine (24 hours) 1300 789 978: Counselling and resources for men in crisis www.mensline.org.au

Men’s Referral Service (24 hours) 1300 766 491: telephone counselling for men dealing with family violence matters www.ntvmrs.org.au

Disclaimer: This document has been prepared and sent on behalf of Mercer Superannuation (Australia) Limited (‘Mercer Super’), ABN 79 004 717 533, Australian Financial Services Licence #235906, the trustee of the Mercer Super Trust ABN 19 905 422 981. Any advice contained in this document is of a general nature only, and does not take into account the personal needs and circumstances of any particular individual. Prior to acting on any information contained in this document, you need to take into account your own financial circumstances. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement, Product Guide, Insurance Guide, and Financial Services Guide before making a decision about the product, or seek professional advice from a licensed, or appropriately authorised financial adviser if you are unsure of what action to take. 'MERCER' is a registered trademark of Mercer (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 32 005 315 917. Copyright 2022 Mercer LLC. All rights reserved.