Your employer has to regularly put aside a specific amount of money for your super. This amount is equal to a minimum 9.5% of your pre-tax salary and is paid at least once every quarter into your super account.
Your employer’s super contributions are known as Super Guarantee or ‘SG’ payments. Your employer makes these payments straight into your super account, separate to the salary they pay you.
Even if you move to a new job, you can take the same super account with you. This makes it easier to keep track of your super, and also means you can potentially avoid paying fees on more than one account.
Your super is a long-term investment – and the more money that goes into it, the more that can be invested to grow over time.
A popular way to boost your super is by salary sacrificing1. As of 1 January 2020, this means you set up an arrangement for your employer to pay a bit extra from your pre-tax salary into your super, on top of the Super Guarantee contributions they’re legally required to make.
Did you know?
See how a small amount each pay could potentially make a big difference to your super balance at retirement in the chart below.
Even if you don’t have extra cash on hand to boost your super, don’t worry. Every little bit helps, and can potentially end up making a big difference by the time you retire.
Assumptions: Projection starts at 1 July 2020 assuming an initial superannuation balance of Nil; member is aged 30 and retirement age is 65; annual salary is $45,000; 15% contributions tax applies to salary sacrifice contributions; salary and salary sacrifice contributions increase each year by salary growth of 3.2% pa; the investment rate of return based on a balanced earning rate of 3.46% pa compound weekly net of tax and fees; results in today's dollars discounted by CPI inflation of 3.2% pa. Source: Colonial First State
Your super is designed to fund your retirement. That’s why you can’t touch it for most of your working life, so it has the chance to grow as much as possible over the long term.
After you reach your ‘preservation age’, you can start accessing your super either when you retire, or as part of a transition-to-retirement strategy. Once you turn 65, you can access your super regardless of your work status.
Your preservation age is the age you’re generally allowed to access your super. It depends on your date of birth.
There are other special circumstances when you may be able to access some or all of your super – for instance, on compassionate grounds or if you’re experiencing hardship eg financial difficulties caused due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re a temporary resident leaving Australia, you can also withdraw your super via a Departing Australia superannuation payment.
How do I withdraw my super?
Once you’re allowed full access to your super, you can choose to receive it either as a lump sum or a regular income stream – or a combination of both. The option you choose may affect your financial circumstances and tax position, so it may be worth getting financial advice before making a decision.
If you’ve changed jobs you may have multiple super accounts with different funds.
In this case, you’re probably paying multiple sets of fees, which can make a dent in your retirement savings in the long run. Having more than one account can make it harder to keep track of your super.
It’s a good idea to find any other super accounts you may have and consider bringing them together into one account to avoid paying more fees than you need to. Before you make a decision, remember to compare the costs, risks and benefits of your other super fund against Essential Super including any insurance you may hold elsewhere as it will end if you choose to leave those super funds.3
You can search for your other super and bring your super together via the Australian Tax Office at MyGov.
You can check your transactions in your Essential Super account via NetBank > Select Essential Super > Transactions.
Your employer is legally required to pay your super at least every 3 months. If you want to check when your super is paid, check with your employer and ensure they are paying your super into the account of your choice.
For most jobs in Australia, you can choose which account you want your employer to pay your super into. To do this, you will need to download a Superannuation standard choice form from your preferred super fund and provide the completed form to your employer.
You can see your super balance alongside your banking via the CommBank and NetBank anytime. When you receive your Essential Super statement every 6 months, it’s a good time to check some other features of your account:
As an Essential Super member, you may be invested in the Lifestage option like over 90%5 of our members. This means that not all your super is invested in shares. If you have invested in a LifeStage option, your super is invested in a portfolio of assets including growth assets like shares and conservative assets like cash and fixed interest. This option is invested in a variety of assets, designed to diversify risk. There are other options to consider, such as a Balanced Australian Share or Cash Deposit option. If you would like to know more about these options, give us a call on 13 4074.
It’s important not to panic, super is a long-term investment. Although financial markets may fall in the short term, historically over the long-term they typically recover. It is important to take a long-term perspective with your super. If you are unsure about what action to take, a financial adviser may be able to help you.
1 Contributions caps apply.
2 The highest marginal tax rate is 45% plus 2% Medicare levy. Concessional contributions such as salary sacrifice are generally taxed at just 15% when received by your fund. However, a higher rate of tax may be payable on part or all of these contributions if your income and before-tax contributions are more than $250,000 in a financial year.
3 Before you make a decision on consolidating your super, you should compare the costs, fees, risks and benefits of your other super funds against Essential Super. It makes sense to consider whether you can replace any insurance cover you may lose upon rolling over, potential costs for withdrawing from other super funds as well as any investment or tax implications. You should also decide which super fund you want your employer to pay your future employer contributions to and complete a Super Choice form if necessary.
4 Source: moneysmart.gov.au: Insurance through super, September 2020.
5 As at 31 March 2020.