Choosing the right super fund

When was the last time you checked your super fund balance? How about your investment options? Well guess what, one day you’ll need this money to work for you. Why not get it working right now?
If you’re hoping for a comfortable retirement, start learning about your superannuation now. Taking some measures to steer your portfolio in the right direction can make a world of difference later when you retire.

What is superannuation?

Superannuation is a compulsory tax effective structure that is used by working Australians to fund retirement. Generally, you will not be able to access this money until you retire. You can contribute more than what your employer does and you are free to choose any super fund and any type of asset class for your investments.

Which super fund should you choose?

Most people can choose their super fund however you should check with your employer to make sure you can before considering a change.
Some industrial awards specify a fund or a choice of a few funds that super must be paid into.
When you can choose your super fund, tell your employer by filling in a standard choice form from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or from your employer. If you don’t (or can’t) choose your own super fund, your employer will put the money into a ‘default’ super fund, known as a MySuper account.

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When can I access my super?

You can access your super when you reach your ‘preservation age’. This is the minimum age, set by law, that your super must be ‘preserved’ until. Your preservation age is currently between 55 and 60, depending on when you were born.
When you reach preservation age, you can access your super as long as you are permanently retired or reached age 65. If you haven’t permanently retired, you can still access part of your super via a transition to retirement pension.

Defined benefit super members

Members of some defined benefit super funds can access a defined benefit pension from age 55, regardless of when they were born. Speak to your fund for eligibility requirements as each fund is different.

Taking your super as a retirement income stream, lump sum or both

You can choose to receive your super as a lump sum, a retirement income stream also known as an account-based pension, or a combination of both. If you choose to receive your super as a regular income stream, the money that you’re not accessing continues to work for you and earn an investment return.

Most super fund members transfer all or most of their accumulation account to an account-based pension so that they can continue to receive a regular income after they have stopped working.

Transfer balance cap

On 1 July 2017 a limit was introduced on how much money can be held in an account-based pension. This is called the transfer balance cap and is currently set at $1.6 million. Details of this and other changes to super are available on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.

Super pension

Transferring your accumulation account to an account-based pension account means you will continue to receive a regular income. Many people find this much easier than having to look after a large sum of money themselves.

An account-based pension is similar to your super accumulation account, only instead of putting money into it you will be drawing money out of it. There is a minimum amount you must withdraw each year depending on your age, for example if you are aged between 65 and 74 you must withdraw at least 5% of the balance each year as income payments.

Investment returns of an account-based pension are not taxed and if you are aged 60 or over your income payments will also be tax free. Different rules may apply to untaxed or defined benefit funds. You can talk with us or contact your super fund for more information.

Cashing in your super

When you retire you can take your super as a lump sum. You don’t have to take it all at once, you may decide to leave it in super and withdraw it a bit at a time as you need it.

Taking your super as a lump sum can have tax and Centrelink implications and is often not the best way to deal with your super. The returns on investments outside super are usually taxable. If you make a mistake you might not be able to put the money back into super.

If you are aged 60 or over you can withdraw your super tax free. If you are under age 60 you may have to pay tax depending on the components of your super, see retirement income and tax for an explanation on what makes up the different components of your super.

Super lump sum plus pension

Your third option is to take some cash and convert the rest to a pension. Most accumulation accounts and some defined benefit funds will allow you to do this. This gives you the flexibility to take a holiday, renovate your home or upgrade your car, for example, but still receive a regular income. Most account-based pensions will also let you withdraw lump sums in the future so you don’t need to make these decisions straight away.

While having the flexibility is great, remember that anything you take out as a lump sum may reduce the amount of regular income you receive and affect how long your money will last.

Getting advice is the easiest way to manage your super

At Cursio Group we can help you with the following:
– Consolidate multiple super funds into one
– Select an investment strategy that suits you
– Assist you with making a death benefit nomination for your fund
– Implement insurance for an additional amount of money to be paid upon death or total and permanent disability
– Implement salary continuance cover or income protection through super
– Work out the best retirement strategy to get your super working for you when you need it




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