Overview of changes

On 22 March 2020, the Australian Government announced its economic support package to help Australians who are under financial stress as a result of Coronavirus. This legislation has now passed.

 The package includes :

  1. Temporary early release of superannuation (super)
  2. Temporary reduction of minimum pension payment requirements for retirees.

Please ensure you read the FAQs on this page carefully, as they contain important information and links to additional resources and support. 

Temporary release of super

About this change

The Government is allowing eligible Australians to apply to withdraw up to:

  • $10,000 of their superannuation in financial year 2019-20 (before 1 July 2020)
  • plus up to a further $10,000 in financial year 2020-21 (from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020).

These payments are tax-free and will not affect any Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments you receive. Members will be required to apply directly to the ATO, rather than through their super fund.

Am I eligible?

Essential Super members can apply for early release of their super if they meet one 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  at the time you make the application have been reduced by 20 per cent or more compared to the second half of 2019; 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 at the time you make the application compared to the second half of 2019

If you are over the age of 65 and would like to access your super, you do not need to apply for early release of super as your funds are classified as “Unrestricted, Non Preserved”. This means you can access and draw upon your funds by completing and submitting a standard Withdrawal form. To obtain a copy of this form, please call us on 13 4074.

Are Temporary Residents allowed to access their super?

Yes. On 4 April 2020, it was announced that in line with changes being made for Australian citizens and permanent residents, most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access their Australian superannuation to help support themselves.

Please note: Eligible temporary residents will only be able to access $10,000 of their super until 30 June 2020. Further information is available from the ATO.
Eligibility will be determined by the ATO when you submit your request. Your super fund will be unable to confirm your eligibility or change the ATO’s decision. Please contact the ATO regarding any questions regarding your specific eligibility. 

I applied during the first round, can I apply again?

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident you are able to apply for up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020, depending on your remaining super balance. If you are a temporary resident, the ATO’s eligibility rules state you are only able to apply once before 30 June 2020.

 

When can I apply?

  • You can apply for the first round of early access to your super until 30 June 2020 and for the second round from 1 July 2020 to 24 September 2020.

How do I apply? 

  • You can apply via your myGov account 
  • If you don’t already have a myGov account, you can set one up by selecting 'Create an account'.

As part of the application, you will be required to input the bank details you would like the money paid into and you will need to authorise the ATO to provide it to your super fund to release the money into that account. 

How much can I apply for?

You can apply for up to $10,000 in this financial year. MyGov will show you your balance as at 31 March 2020, the last date CFS and Essential Super reported to the ATO. Essential Super members can check their current balance in NetBank or the CommBank app before submitting a request. This is the quickest and easiest way to find out your current account balance. Example: If your MyGov account shows $5,000 but your current balance is $6,000 – you are able to apply for $6,000 and we will pay you the amount that is available in your account.

Please note: If your withdrawal drops your account balance to a level where premiums can no longer be funded, the insurance within your Essential Super account will be cancelled. To keep your insurance, make sure you have enough money in your account to pay your premiums. To check your Insurance log on to NetBank > Essential Super > Insurance

What do I do if my Essential Super account isn’t linked to my MyGov account?

Before calling us please ensure that your MyGov account is linked to the ATO. The steps are outlined here

Your Tax File Number (TFN) is the key link between your Essential Super account and the ATO. If we have the same TFN as the ATO, you should see your Essential Super account in MyGov when you link your MyGov to the ATO. Your Essential Super account was last reported to the ATO on 31 March 2020. If you log into MyGov and don’t see it linked, we may not have your TFN or we may have the incorrect TFN on file, please have your TFN handy and call us on 13 4074.

Should I apply to access my super?

It is important to make the decision that is right for you. Whilst there may be an immediate need to access money, withdrawing super early may have a significant impact on your future savings. For more information to help guide your decision, visit the MoneySmart website.

It’s worth seeking independent professional advice about whether an early release of your super is appropriate for your individual circumstances. Withdrawing super early may have a significant impact on your future savings. For more information to help guide your decision, visit the MoneySmart website.

Our Financial Support Guide also outlines other options that may be available to you during this time.

What is the process after I apply and how long will it take to receive the payment?   

After you apply through the myGov website, the ATO will review your application and will send you a letter regarding the outcome of your application. This letter will be available in your myGov inbox within 2-3 days. 

Once your application is approved and Essential Super or CFS are notified, we will aim to make the payment within 5 business days. Please allow up to an additional 3 business days for the transfer to your bank account to be completed, depending on your bank. 

Can you provide a status update on my withdrawal? Can I get it any sooner?

We're trying our best to process everyone's payments in a timely manner. We aim to make payments within 5 business days once we receive notification from the ATO. We cannot expedite individual payments because they are received and processed in batches. Please bear with us as we try and get your payment to you as soon as possible. 

What happens if I withdraw all the money out of my account?

Generally, when you withdraw all of your funds, your Essential Super account would be closed and any insurance on your account will be cancelled. Insurance could also be cancelled if your account balance drops to a level where premiums can no longer be funded.

However, if this was the account your super was being paid into and we receive a further employer contribution (Super Guarantee) within 120 days of your withdrawal, we’ll accept the contribution and apply it to your account. If this happens, we will write to you to let you know. If you had insurance, you will have the option to reinstate it. If we don’t receive any further employer contributions to your account within 120 days of your withdrawal, your account will be closed.

MyGov is showing me a different amount to my current balance?

The balance shown on MyGov will be at the date Essential Super or CFS (or your super fund) last reported this information to the ATO. The latest update we provided was on 13 June 2020. This will likely be updated again in July.

Essential Super members can check their latest balance in NetBank or the CommBank app.

MyGov showed me a higher super balance but I was paid a lower amount. Why was my withdrawal less?

As mentioned above, the latest update Essential Super and CFS provided to the ATO was on 31 March 2020. The balance shown on MyGov may differ to the actual balance of your account. If you applied for a higher amount than what you received, you will have been paid according to your current balance.

There are several reasons that your account balance may have dropped between then and now. These include but are not limited to:

  • Performance of financial markets
  • Withdrawals
  • Fees and costs

Do I need to contact Essential Super or CFS?

No, you do not need to contact Essential Super or CFS as part of this process unless you suspect fraud then please call 1300 060 687. Please read our full list of FAQs before contacting us as we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and wait times are longer than usual. 

How can I check Essential Super or CFS have my correct bank details?

You do not need to contact Essential Super or CFS to provide your bank details or confirm your current bank details in this instance because your super fund will use the bank details provided by the ATO. Please ensure you correctly enter your bank details during the application to avoid any delays.

What documents do I need to provide to prove my identity?

As this process is completed by the ATO any identification requirements will be set by the ATO. You do not need to provide Essential Super or CFS with any proof of identification documents as part of the application process.

What are the tax implications for accessing my super under Coronavirus Compassionate Grounds?

People accessing their superannuation early in this circumstance will not pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

In February 2020, my super account was identified as an inactive low-balance account and I want to apply for the release of funds under Coronavirus Compassionate Grounds.

Will my account still be transferred to the ATO and how do I apply?

The ATO has confirmed that Super funds are able to defer the transfer of inactive low-balance accounts due in April until October 2020.

For Essential Super members, this means your account will remain with us and you can apply for the release of funds via the same means, through MyGov from 20 April.

As your account remains open with us, your super continues to be invested and will continue to incur fees. If your account remains inactive from now until 30 June 2020 and you haven’t responded, we will contact you again in July 2020 to let you know that your account may be transferred to the ATO and what your options are.

If you are looking to apply for a second release of funds under the Coronavirus Compassionate Grounds available 1 July 2020, we recommend you lodge your application via MyGov well before the end date of 24 September 2020 to prevent the risk of it being transferred to the ATO.

What if I don’t use the whole amount of money I withdraw?

If your account is still open, you will be free to recontribute any unused amounts to your super fund in the future (within contribution caps) if you’re eligible. 

How many coronavirus early release of super claims can I make?

The Government has confirmed that members will only be permitted to make one compassionate grounds claim (even if the member holds multiple funds) under Coronavirus this financial year 2019-20. You will also be able to make another claim from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020 if you are still eligible. After this date you will not be able to submit any further claims.

I want to apply for $10,000 to be released but have less than this amount in my super account. Can I still apply for $10,000?

No. Individuals can only make one application per financial year, to a maximum of $10,000 across all super funds. If you apply for $10,000 against an account that has only $8,500 – you will only receive the $8,500. However, if you have multiple accounts with less than $10,000 in any one account, you are able to nominate more than one account from which amounts are to be released when you apply to the ATO.

For example, if you had two super accounts with $5,000 in each, you will be able to claim $5,000 from each fund at the time you make the application.

Should I access my super to pay my rent? 

Some real estate agents may be advising tenants to consider applying for early release of their super to pay their rent. Financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licenced financial advisers or financial counsellors, not by real estate agents who don’t hold the required licence or are not an authorised representative of an Australian Financial Services Licensee. 

If you are in financial difficulty, you should seek financial guidance or advice. Read our Financial Support Guide.

ASIC’s Moneysmart website has helpful information on what to consider before you apply to access your super. 

Does my insurance with Essential Super cover Coronavirus?

Insurance through Essential Super covers you for pandemics including the coronavirus. If you currently have Death or TPD (Total and Permanent Disability) as part of your Essential Super account, you are covered for claims resulting from the contraction of coronavirus.

While the Product Disclosure Statement incorporating the Reference Guide provides the insurer with an option to apply an exclusion for pandemics for new members, our insurer has informed us they will not be doing this.

Be aware of scams

The ATO has concerns about scams or schemes where people:

  • impersonate the ATO, or a trusted organisation like your super fund, to steal your money or personal identifying information
  • contact you and charge 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 or click on any links. Contact the ATO to confirm if it is genuine.

Temporary reduction of minimum pension payments 

About this change

To provide retirees with more flexibility in managing their retirement incomes, the Government has announced it is reducing the minimum pension payment requirement for account based pensions and similar products by 50% in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Am I eligible?

All account based pension holders are eligible.

How do I request to reduce my pension payments?

  • To request to reduce the amount of your pension payment, you will need to check the process with your superannuation provider by visiting their website or contacting them. 
  • If you are a Colonial First State (CFS) FirstChoice member, you can request to reduce the amount of your pension payment by:
    • Completing the Colonial First State ‘Pension Payment Update’ form and uploading it via FirstNet or returning it via post, using the reply paid address noted on the form. 
    • You can also email it to ClientMaintenance@cba.com.au with the email subject heading: Change of Pension Payments – Reduction In Minimums.
    • To log in to FirstNet, you will need your Member ID (OIN), which is available on your last statement and your password. 
  • If you don’t know your Member ID (OIN), you can provide a few details about your account and enter a security code (FirstNet Code) that we’ll send to your linked mobile phone number. Alternatively, learn how to register for FirstNet Code

By how much can I reduce my pension payments?

The amount by which you can reduce your pension payment will depend on your age:

Age
Minimum annual pension payment
NEW minimum annual pension payment for 2019-20 and 2020-21
Under 65
4%
2%
65 - 74
5%
2.5%
75 - 79
6%
3%
80 - 84
7%
3.5%
85 - 89
9%
4.5%
90-94
11%
5.5%
95+
14%
7%

Minimum percentages are calculated on account balance at commencement of pension and at the start of each subsequent financial year.

Need more help?

You should consider speaking to a financial adviser before making any decisions to withdraw or change your super or pension account.

More support and guidance is available to CommBank customers during these uncertain times, visit our Coronavirus support hub.

Please note: This content is correct as at 26 June 2020 but may be subject to government changes.

Things you should know

Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFS) is the issuer of interests in Commonwealth Essential Super ABN 56 601 925 435 (Essential Super) and is a wholly owned but non-guaranteed subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 (Bank). The information is based on the understanding of the initiatives that have been announced by the Commonwealth Government and current regulatory requirements and laws as at April 2020. This document may include general financial product advice but does not consider your individual objectives, financial circumstances or needs.  You should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and the Reference Guide for Essential Super carefully and consider whether the information is appropriate for you before making any decision regarding this product. Download the PDS and Reference Guide at or call us on 13 4074 for a copy. The Bank and its subsidiaries do not guarantee the performance of Essential Super and an investment in this product is subject to risk, loss of income and capital invested. An investment in Essential Super is via a superannuation trust and is therefore not an investment in, deposit with or other liability of the Bank or its subsidiaries. Where we mention ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘our’, we mean CFS.