Apply for early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds

If you have medical, disability or funeral expenses you just can’t afford, you have the right to apply to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to have some of your superannuation released before you retire.

Applying on compassionate grounds

It may be tempting to view this as an easy solution, but there are risks associated with accessing your superannuation early. 

Before you consider applying to the DHS, read about the risks associated with accessing your superannuation, and speak to one of our financial counsellors.

Access superannuation


Grounds for early release

There are 5 specified compassionate grounds:

  1. For medical or dental treatment for yourself or a dependant, or to pay for transport for treatment
  2. To modify your home or car to accommodate your own needs or the needs of a dependant with a severe disability
  3. For palliative care for yourself or a dependant with a terminal medical condition
  4. To pay for expenses associated with a dependant's death, funeral or burial
  5. To prevent the forced sale of your home by your lender or council (refer to Applying to use your superannuation to pay mortgage arrears


How to apply

  1. Go to the DHS website and follow the process for applying for early superannuation release.
  2. Collect the supporting documentation that proves the compassionate grounds your application is based on.
  3. Submit your application to DHS. They'll assess your application within 10 days of receiving all the required documentation and advise you in writing of their decision.

If you're terminally ill, you can apply directly to your super fund for the early release of your superannuation. You'll need 2 medical certificates from 2 doctors (one must be a specialist) confirming that you have an illness that is likely to result in your death within 2 years.

Note that even if you obtain approval from DHS, your superannuation fund is not obliged to release your funds early if their policy disallows early access.