Information on managing and accessing your super through COVID-19

If your employment or work hours have been affected by the coronavirus you may be eligible to access up to $10,000 of your super in the 2019-20 financial year and a further $10,000 in the 2020-21 financial year.

This is a temporary measure introduced by the Australian Government on 22 March 2020 as part of its economic reponse to the coronavirus. You can view more information on the initiative and other non-super support measures for individuals and households on The Treasury website.

While superannuation’s primary purpose is to help you save for retirement, the Government recognises that if you are significantly financially affected by the coronavirus, accessing some of your super today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.

This initiative is in addition to the current rules around accessing super, including for financial hardship or compassionate grounds. The money you access through this initiative won’t be taxed or affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Beware of scammers

There are a number of scams where people impersonate the ATO to try to steal your personal information – like your super and bank account details.

If you receive a phone call, text message or email offering to help release your super early, do not provide your personal information or click on any links.

When can you apply?

If you’re eligible, you can apply to access up to $10,000 of your super for the 2019/20 financial year from 20 April 2020. Applications will close 30 June 2020.

You will also be able to apply for a further $10,000 for the 2020/21 financial year from 1 July to 24 September 2020.

When will you receive your payment?

  1. The ATO will process your application. This may take up to four business days
  2. Once your application is approved, the ATO will pass your information on to Qantas Super
  3. We’ll process your payment within five business days, but this may take longer if we need to confirm your details or if fraud is suspected
  4. We’ll make the payment to your nominated account. Depending on your bank or credit union, it may take 2-3 days for the payment to appear

Who is eligible?

To apply for early release you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

On or after 1 January 2020:

  • you were made redundant; or
  • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; 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
  • 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
  • You are unemployed

What does getting early access mean for my super?

It can be hard to think of something decades away when you have more pressing money matters to address in the present, but it’s important to consider the long-term effects that withdrawing now will have on your retirement savings.

Losing out on compound investment returns

The power of the super system as a long-term savings vehicle lies in compound investment returns (also known as compound interest). At its most basic, compound interest means earning interest on interest. For example, if you invest $1,000 and earn $100 interest in one year, you’ll then begin to earn interest on your new total of $1,100.

Consider what's important to you

When considering withdrawing from super now, you should weigh this up against the longer term impact on your retirement benefit and the lifestyle you’ll be able to enjoy in the future.

We would encourage those who access their super early to consider topping up their account once they’re back at work. Even replacing a modest sum can have a big impact on a member’s final superannuation balance over time.

Before making a decision about your super, we recommend you speak to a Super Adviser, who can help determine the best strategy for you.

How will the payment be made for members with a defined benefit?

If you’re a member in a defined benefit division, you’re eligible to apply for early access in the same way as members in other divisions. Any amounts which are released will be reflected in your Defined Benefit Offset Account.

Your Defined Benefit Offset Account is our way of keeping track of any early withdrawals or advances given on your defined benefit, so we can ensure that these amounts aren’t paid to you again when you are paid your total benefit or leave the division.

This means the balance of this account is negative. It’s equal to the amount of any payments you withdraw, and will increase in line with investment earnings applied on this account.

We apply investment earnings to this account so your total benefit at retirement or when you leave your division is adjusted to take account of the investment earnings you would have earned on the early withdrawal amounts. We consider that this approach ensures your defined benefit is calculated fairly.

Unless you’re in Division 15, the investment earning adjustments to your Defined Benefit Offset Account are based on the investment options for your accumulation accounts.

If you haven’t chosen an investment option for your accumulation accounts, investment earnings are applied using the Growth option. If you’re in Division 15, the investment earnings adjustments to your Defined Benefit Offset Account are based on the earnings rate of the fund’s investments supporting the defined benefits.

You’re able to reduce the balance in your Defined Benefit Offset Account if you wish. You can do this by either making contributions to offset these amounts, or contacting us and instructing us to transfer an amount from your accumulation accounts to your Defined Benefit Offset Account.

It’s also important to note that accessing your super early can impact your existing insurance. If you withdraw all of your super, or you don’t leave enough money in your account to cover fees and insurance premiums (if these apply to you), you will automatically lose any insurance cover. This means if you die or become totally and permanently disabled in the future, you or your family will not be able to make a claim with us.

Please note that you won’t be able to view your Defined Benefit Offset Account as a separate account when you log in online. However, you will be able to see details of the account on your statements going forward.

An example of how early release of your super works

Cara is a Flight Attendant and as a result of the coronavirus has been temporarily stood down from work. As Cara’s working hours have dropped by more than 20 per cent, compared to her average hours per week in the second half of 2019, Cara decides to apply for early release of $7,000 of her super in May 2020. Cara could have applied for up to $10,000, but chose not to.

Cara cannot seek any further early release of super during the 2019-20 financial year on the grounds she has been affected by the adverse economic effects of the coronavirus. However, Cara finds that after 1 July 2020 her hours continue to be reduced by more than 20 per cent compared to the second half of 2019 and decides to make a second application for the 2020-21 financial year. Cara’s second application is for the full amount of $10,000.

For each application, the ATO approves Cara’s early release. Cara’s payments will not be taxed and she is free to spend the money on anything she chooses.

Other measures you may be able to access

The Qantas Group is enabling employees who have been stood down to take their entitlement to any paid annual leave and long service leave during their stand down period. The Group is also working with a number of organisations to develop Secondary Employment Opportunities for staff.

The Federal Government has also announced a number of income support measures to help Australians whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus. You may be eligible to access:

JobKeeper Payment

Qantas Group has signed up to the Government’s wage subsidy program, Jobkeeper.

The company will make JobKeeper payments from mid-April, backdated to 30 March, to Australia-based Qantas Group employees whose employment has been affected. You can learn more about the payments via the Qantas Group Q & A.

JobSeeker Payment and coronavirus supplement

The Government has expanded the eligibility criteria for income support payments such as the JobSeeker Payment, to support Australians whose employment has been affected as a result of the pandemic.

In addition to an income support payment, Australians will also receive a new ‘time-limited’ coronavirus supplement payment. This supplement will be $550 per fortnight and will be paid from 27 April for the next six months.

You can apply for the JobSeeker Payment online.

How to apply

You can apply directly to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) through the myGov website.

The ATO will ask you to certify that you’re eligible to access your super early.

You will then be asked to review a list of any open super accounts you have, and the last balance reported. In most cases, that will be 30 June 2019.

You will then be able to input the amount you would like to release from your account, up to $10,000. The ATO will also ask you to input the bank account details that you would like your money paid into, and authorise the ATO to provide this information to us.

After the ATO has processed your application, they will issue you with a determination and provide Qantas Super with a copy of the determination. This will advise us to release your payment.

Beware of scammers

There are a number of scams where people impersonate the ATO to try to steal your personal information – like your super and bank account details. If you receive a phone call, text message or email offering to help release your super early, do not provide your personal information or click on any links.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will the payment take to be processed?

    Once the ATO have processed your application they will send you a letter of approval or rejection (called a Determination). Once your application is approved you do not need to contact us. We will make the payment to you without you needing to apply directly.

  • When will I see the money in my bank account?

    We expect to process your payment within five business days, but please note it may take a little longer for the money to appear in your bank account.

We're here to help

If you have any questions about your super, we’re here to help. You can give our friendly helpline a call or book a phone appointment with a Super Adviser at no additional cost.