What is superannuation?
- Superannuation is savings for retirement.
- It is paid by your employer into your superannuation account which is held until you reach retirement age
- Everyone in the workforce who is over the age of 18 years and who is paid $450 or more, before tax, per month should have superannuation paid to their account.
- employers are required to make payments every 3 months.
- The amount paid is a minimum of 9.5 % of your base wage – in some situations it is more than this (by agreement between the employer and the employee).
- It is a compulsory entitlement and if you notice that your superannuation has not been paid to your account in a reasonable timeframe, you should gather information and contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
- We should all check our superannuation accounts regularly to make sure that our entitlements have been paid and credited to our account.
- Most superannuation accounts also have a death benefit insurance and a Total & Permanent Disability insurance. The premiums are deducted from your superannuation account balance.
- You can make payments towards superannuation yourself – either before tax or after tax – you should talk to an accountant about what is best for you.
- Most people will be able to access their superannuation between 55 years and 60 years depending on which year you were born.
Can I choose my superannuation fund?
In most cases you can choose a super fund although some employers will only pay into an industry fund.
It can be difficult to decide which fund is best for you, but it is a good idea to consider funds with the lowest fees when deciding with whom to open and account.
Early release of superannuation is illegal unless you fulfil certain criteria:
- Permanent Incapacity – unable to work due to a medical condition
- Severe Financial Hardship – receipt of certain Centrelink benefits for a continuous period of 26 weeks
- Compassionate grounds - – medical treatment, sever disability – modifications, funeral expenses, house at risk of repossession – different rates and criteria for release
- Terminal Illness
- Permanently leave Australia - International students can apply to access their super if they leave the country permanently.
- First Home Super Saver Scheme
What if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about a decision made by the Trustee of your superannuation fund you can lodge a complaint with Australian Finance and Financial Authority (AFCA).
How can a financial counsellor help?
Financial Counsellors help people who are experiencing financial difficulty. They are skilled professionals who will guide you through your options and help you plan your way out of debt.
They may be able to assist you by:
- Doing a full assessment of your financial situation, including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities, to help you fully understand your position, create a budget and put a plan into place
- Providing advice on how to negotiate with your creditors, government agencies or other providers
- Negotiating directly with your creditors in certain circumstances
- Providing advice about what options, rights and responsibilities you may have
- Referring you to other services you may need, such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation services, and health services
What can a financial counsellor provide information about?
They can provide information and advice about:
- Credit and debt-related matters
- The rights of debtors
- How to lodge complaints with various ombudsman schemes if you feel you are not being treated fairly and whether you should have been given a loan in the first place
- Working out a realistic payment plan for debts
- How to access other specialist support services, including gambling, family support, personal counselling, legal aid and emergency relief
It’s then up to you to make the decisions about how to manage your situation with the advice you’ve been given.