SMSF Association urges toughness on early super release

The SMSF Association has called for tougher controls around the early release of superannuation benefits, saying that only those with “genuine hardship claims” and a genuine lack of financial capacity should have access under the reforms.

In its submission to the Treasury’s review on releasing super benefits early, the Association argued that current rules allowing access to superannuation “for most medical treatments” on compassionate grounds were being taken advantage of.

It said that a tightening of the assessment of financial capacity “should solve the problem.”

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SMSF Association chief executive, John Maroney, said that early release policies needed to ensure that a balance was struck between superannuation’s primary objective of meeting retirement income needs and having early access to super as individuals have no means to otherwise meet an expense incurred through genuine hardship.

Maroney expressed concern that a recent increase in access to super on medical grounds “strongly suggested” that genuine hardship requirements were not being met.

He also suggested that individuals’ motivations for accessing super early for surgeries may not be driven by financial need.

“We are … concerned that this increase in access of superannuation for medical treatment has been driven by greater public awareness of the ability to access superannuation for medical reasons, a situation that has been potentially exacerbated by some medical professionals promoting this option,” Maroney said.

The Association also supported early access to superannuation for victims of domestic violence and crime, provided there were “reasonable restrictions” in place.

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