10th Nov 2009 by Tobias John Sterling
The idea behind superannuation is to ensure that people have enough money to live on in their retirement years (and incidentally, to reduce the number of people having to rely on the Age Pension). As allowing people to access the money before they reach 'preservation age' (55-60, depending on when you were born -- see http://www.ato.gov.au/super/content.asp?doc=/Content/48211.htm) would defeat the purpose of the system, it's impossible to do so except in rare cases of severe financial hardship or for medical care not available through Medicare. Between preservation age and actually retiring, you can access super in a limited way: only as an income stream, not as a lump sum. Once you reach 65 or permanently retire, you can withdraw your super as a lump sum by contacting your super fund and getting them to send you the relevant form, then completing and returning it.
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