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Saving money for when you stop working

Page reading time: 2 minutes

Superannuation ('super') is money being saved for your 'retirement', when you are older and have stopped working. Your employer has to put money into a super fund for you. The money in your super fund belongs to you, not your employer or the government.

What is superannuation

Superannuation is money you save for when you retire.

Your employer must pay super into an account for you, in addition to your pay. The amount will be shown on your payslip.

You get super when you are working full-time, part-time or casual. If you're aged under 18, you get super when you work more than 30 hours in a week.

If you can afford to, you can also add to your super yourself. Or, if you're on a lower income, you may get an extra amount from the government.

For more information about super in your language, see the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

Choosing a super fund

When you start a job, your employer will give you a 'standard choice form'. This sets out your super fund options.

You can choose your super fund. If you have a fund from a previous job, you can keep that. Or pick a different fund.

If you don't already have a fund, your super will be paid into a 'default' super fund chosen by your employer. Your employer is required to pay your super into your fund at least every 3 months.

All super funds charge fees. Fees are either a dollar amount or a percentage of your contributions, or both. In general, the lower the fees, the better.

When you can get your super

You can get your super when you reach your 'preservation age'. This age depends on when you were born. If you were born from 1 July 1964, you can get your super from age 60. Or if you were born before 1 July 1964, you can get your super earlier.

If you reach your preservation age but haven't retired, you can get part of your super through a pension.

Getting super early

There are strict rules on getting your super early (before preservation age), and serious penalties if you break the rules.

In some circumstances, you may be able to get your super early.

For example, if you have a medical condition and are unable to work or need to reduce your work hours. Or you can't meet your living expenses and have been getting Centrelink benefits for 26 weeks (about 6 months). Or you have a terminal illness or injury.

If you need to get your super for any of these reasons, a financial counsellor can help.

Watch out for super scams

A scammer may offer to help you get your super early or move it to another fund. Take care, they could be trying to steal your money.

To avoid scams, check with your super fund before you act.

Watch out for:

If you think a scammer is trying to get your super, report it to the ATO on 13 10 20.

Get help if you need it

There is free help available, if you need it: