Super considerations at age 65

Know your options around making contributions, accessing retirement savings and when Age Pension entitlements could be affected.

When you turn 65, you don’t have to retire or satisfy any special conditions to get full access to your superannuation savings.

While you can access super before this age, in most cases you must be retired, or if you keep working, you can access up to 10% of your balance each year via a transition to retirement pension.

So you're across the options available to you when you reach 65, we explain:

  • How you can continue contributing
  • How much you can contribute
  • What new rules mean for those who are downsizing
  • What options you have to draw down your super savings
  • When super may affect your Age Pension entitlements
  • At what age you can no longer contribute.

It’s also important to note, while you do have full access to your super, you’re not obligated to draw down your savings, however there may be some benefits in doing so.

1. Can I continue making super contributions?

If you’re 65 or over, you can continue to build your super with compulsory employer contributions (such as Super Guarantee contributions your employer pays where you are eligible).

However, if you’re making voluntary contributions, which you may do through salary sacrifice (which is where you elect to have a portion of your before-tax income paid into your super), or via additional personal contributions, you must be under age 75 and satisfy work test requirements.

As part of the work test, you need to have worked for a set period of time in the financial year, specifically 40 hours within a 30-day period, before you’re able to make a contribution.

2. How much can I contribute?

Changes to contributions caps, which determine the maximum amount of money you can put into super without incurring penalties, came into effect on 1 July 2017.

Here’s a high-level summary of the current contributions caps.

Contribution type Contribution cap
Concessional (before-tax) contributions $25,000 per annum
Non-concessional (after-tax) contributions* $100,000 per annum

* Note, if you are under 65 on 1 July, it may be possible to contribute more under bring-forward rules.

Meanwhile, if you happen to have total super assets over $1.6 million as at 30 June of the previous financial year, you can’t make additional non-concessional contributions to your super, or penalties may apply.

3. What about the new rules if I’m downsizing my home?

From 1 July 2018, Australians aged 65 and over will be able to make a non-concessional contribution to their super of up to $300,000 using the proceeds from the sale of their main residence – regardless of their work status, super balance, or contribution history.

For couples, both spouses will be able to take advantage of this opportunity, which means up to $600,000 per couple can be contributed toward super.

The work test doesn't apply in this instance. And, the proceeds from the sale of your main residence that are contributed into super can be made on top of any before or after-tax contributions you’re eligible to make, meaning the contribution caps (above) do not apply to downsizing contributions.

For more info around eligibility, check out our article - New rules to benefit those downsizing for retirement.

4. What options do I have to draw down my super savings?

Whether you retire at 65 or keep working, you will have a few decisions around what you do with your super savings—which you can access tax free.

Lump sum

Taking some or all of your super savings as a lump sum can be tempting, particularly if you want to pay off debt, assist children or go on a holiday, however, it might not be the best option for everyone. To find out more, check out our article – Should I take my super as a lump sum?  

Meanwhile, think about what you’ll live on in retirement if you have little or no super left. While you could be eligible for government entitlements, such as the Age Pension, it might not cover the type of lifestyle you had in mind after you finish working.

Account-based pension

If you’d like to receive a regular income in retirement, an account-based pension (or allocated pension) could be a tax-effective option. While the most you’ll be able to transfer into this type of pension is $1.6 million, you won’t be limited in what you can take out, but each year, you will need to withdraw a minimum amount.

This figure is calculated based on your age and will be a percentage of your account balance. 

Age Account-based pension - yearly minimum withdrawal
55-64 4%
65-74 5%
75-79 6%
80-84 7%
85-89 9%
90-94 11%
95+ 14%

As you're over age 60, you won’t pay tax on your account-based pension payments or on the investment earnings.

Remember, the value of an account-based pension is based on the amount of super you’ve saved, the investments you choose and the level of income you receive - therefore they do not guarantee an income for life. To find out more, check out our article – Making sense of account-based pensions.

Annuity

Another option is to purchase an annuity product. These generally pay a guaranteed series of payments over a set number of years, or the rest of your life, depending on whether you opt for a fixed-term or lifetime annuity.

They tend to be a secure option as they provide a guaranteed income regardless of what might happen in financial markets. However, you will be sacrificing some flexibility as you can’t easily make lump sum withdrawals and life expectancy is also a major consideration. To find out more, check out our article – What is an annuity?

5. How could super affect my Age Pension?

Currently, to be eligible for the Age Pension you must be 65 and 6 months (or older), and meet an income test and an assets test, which will determine the amount of money you’re eligible for.

As a result, how much money you have in super could affect your Age Pension entitlements. Contributing some of your super funds to a younger spouse may be one way to lessen the impact of the income and assets tests, but this will depend on your individual circumstances, so it’s important to do your research.

With changes underway, the qualifying age for the Age Pension is gradually increasing to 67 based on when you were born. To find out more about eligibility, check out the Department of Human Services website.

6. At what age can I no longer contribute to super?

Once you turn 75, you can no longer make voluntary contributions to your super, with some exceptions if you’re making downsizing contributions after 1 July 2018.

Compulsory employer contributions however could still be made on your behalf if you’re still working. Typically, you’re eligible for compulsory employer contributions, under the Superannuation Guarantee scheme, if you earn more than $450 a month, with employer contributions no less than 9.5% of your before-tax salary.

What else do I need to think about?

If you’re unsure about what will work best for you and what the tax and Age Pension implications might be, speak to your adviser. If you don’t have one but would like a bit more information, call AMP on 131 267 or use our find an adviser search engine to locate someone near you.

We also have super and retirement calculators that can help you crunch the numbers.

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