You’ve put money into super over the years. You’ve managed your investments to maximise the return. Ideally, you have a good amount saved up in your super account.

You know that money is there for you and have made plans for what to do with it in your retirement. But, how exactly do you get that money?

The two ways to access your super

Once you reach the age you’re able to access your super, also known as your preservation age, there are two primary ways that you can get access to your money: a lump sum payment or transitioning to an account-based pension. You can do one of these or some combination of the two.

The lump sum payment is exactly what it sounds like: taking the money all at once. There may be tax implications if you’re under 60, so it might be useful to speak with a financial adviser to make the most of your plan.

An account-based pension is a way to keep your balance invested while receiving regular payments when you like. If you’re used to being paid fortnightly, you can request fortnightly withdrawals to your bank account. Prefer weekly or monthly? Easily done.

There are some rules you should know about using an account-based pension, like minimum withdrawals. Depending on your age, you have to withdraw at least 4% of your balance each year as income payments. There’s also a maximum amount you can hold in an account-based pension, called the Transfer Balance Cap. It’s $1.6 million.

Some people choose to do a combination of strategies, like taking a lump sum cash payment to use for a holiday or some home repairs while leaving the majority of the balance invested in an account-based pension.

How your money is invested in a pension

One benefit of using an account-based pension is that your balance can be invested to grow. As example, we offer two different options depending on how hands-on you want to be.

RetireSmart offers a pre-set investment mix for anyone who wants strong returns without having to select their own investments.

RetireChoice gives the chance to select from a variety of different asset mixes and rebalance your account as your needs change.

Starting a pension before you retire

You can actually start a pension (and start receiving withdrawals) before you retire using a transition to retirement pension, also called a TTR. This allows you to make withdrawals to reduce your working hours, do work around the house, travel… almost anything you want.

A TTR is a type of account-based pension, so you’ll be able to invest the balance to grow.

What should I do?

Whatever you decide to do with your super should be part of a larger strategy for your life in retirement. A financial adviser can not only help you get an account-based pension set up, they can look at your whole financial situation and help you make changes to your life to improve your retirement situation.

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