Coronavirus and your super - FAQs

Is it possible to access my super early?

Your super is money saved for your retirement, so there are rules the government has put in place around when you can access it. 

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government has expanded the eligibility criteria for the early access of super. 

The government has announced you will be able to apply for this from 20 April 2020. You will need to apply to the ATO – you can’t apply for this through Rest. 

The government will allow eligible individuals who’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus to withdraw up to $10,000 from their super during the 2019-20 financial year, and a further $10,000 during the 2020-21 financial year.

 While we understand you may need these payments, it’s important to consider how withdrawing early may impact your retirement income down the track.

The government has announced a range of support options for individuals during the coronavirus pandemic. Before you apply to withdraw super early, it might be worth reviewing if you’re eligible for any other forms of support. Your employer may be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment wage subsidy. If both you and your employer are eligible, they could use the wage subsidy to pay you $1,500 per fortnight before tax for up to six months. For more information on JobKeeper Payments, please follow this link.

Before you make your decision, there are other things to consider. Do you have insurance in super? If you withdraw money from your super, your insurance cover will end if there isn’t enough money left in your account to pay your monthly premiums. So, if you need to withdraw money and also want to keep your insurance cover, you should consider leaving enough in your account to pay the premiums. If there isn’t enough to cover the premiums, we’ll send you a letter and you’ll have 28 days to top up your super and reinstate your insurance. The top up contribution will need to be enough to cover any outstanding premiums and fees or your insurance won’t restart.

If you take out all the money in your super account, your account will be closed. 

You can speak to a Rest Adviser about the long-term nature of super investments if you have more questions. There’s information on Rest Advice at the end of this FAQ. 

You can apply for early release through the ATO from 20 April 2020. Remember you can’t apply through Rest.

The exact process is still being finalised by the ATO, and we will update you with more information as it comes to hand. The latest information from the government says:

  1. From now, go to my.gov.au and create an online account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Once logged in to my.gov.au you can register your interest by following the ‘Intention to access coronavirus support’ options.
  3. From 20 April, you can either:
    1. Complete the online application form through the ATO portal in my.gov.au, OR
    2. phone the ATO and apply over the phone.
  4. As part of the application process, you will have to certify that you are eligible for an early release of your super.
  5. You will then be shown a list of all your open super accounts (you may have more than one) and the account balance for each. Please note, account balance shown may not have been updated since 30 June 2019.  
  6. You will then input the amount of super you’d like to withdraw from your account. Remember, the limit for each financial year is $10,000. So, if you have multiple accounts, the combined amount can’t exceed $10,000.
  7. You will then provide the ATO with the details of the bank account you want your early release paid into. 


The ATO will then assess your application and then tell Rest if you’re approved to have an early release of your super. The exact process for payment is still being developed, but we will update you with the new information as soon as we have it to hand.

In the meantime, you can download the Rest App OR register for MemberAccess and update your contact details online with us. 

You can also obtain more information on the early release of super from the ATO website.

To be eligible for early release, you must satisfy one or more of the following:
  • be unemployed;
  • be eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • on or after 1 January 2020:
    • you were made redundant; or
    • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more; or
    • if you’re a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
People withdrawing super will not need to pay tax on amounts released, and the money withdrawn will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

The government has advised that you’ll be able to apply for an early release of your super from 20 April 2020. Remember, you apply via the ATO – you can’t apply through Rest. 

The $10,000 available in the 2019-20 financial year will be available up to and including 30 June 2020.

From 1 July 2020, you can apply for an extra $10,000 in the 2020-21 financial year. The Government hasn’t specified how long you’ll be able to apply for this extra $10,000 but advised it’ll be for about three months.

As soon as we have more details on timeframes, we’ll update this FAQ.

There are reports our members are receiving unsolicited phone calls from us about their super. These are fraudulent. Rest will never call you to ask for your personal or financial information or to request a payment.

There are also reports that scammers are calling or sending messages to members offering to facilitate an early release of their super, possibly for a fee. These are also fraudulent. 

The ATO is managing the applications for early release of super. The only way to apply is to make an application directly to the ATO from 20 April 2020. You can do this my logging into my.gov.au or calling the ATO on the phone. The ATO will not charge you a fee for this. 

You do not need to go through a third party for assistance in accessing an early release your super. You should not provide a third party with your bank details or information about your super account, and you should not be charged a fee.

If you think you’ve been targeted by someone who is trying to access your super early, report it to EarlyReleaseofSuperTeam@ato.gov.au 

If you have any concerns or believe you’ve given your details to a scammer, please contact us. 

There are a number of existing conditions you can use to withdraw your super early.

For example, you can apply to Rest to access part of your super if you’re experiencing financial hardship, so long as you meet other eligibility conditions.

You can also apply to the ATO for an early release of your super on compassionate grounds, such as:
  • Medical – to pay for treatment or travel to treatment for you, your partner, child or other dependant
  • Mortgage – to stop the bank from selling your home
  • Disability – to modify your home or car
  • Palliative care – for you or a dependant
  • Funeral – to pay for expenses for a dependant.

For more information see our fact sheet at rest.com.au/understanding-super
To be eligible for the early release of super under severe financial hardship, members must meet criteria under either Case 1 or Case 2.

Case 1
  • You’ve been receiving Commonwealth income support payments for 26 continuous weeks, and
  • you’re unable to meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses.
Note: A Maximum amount of $10,000 can be withdrawn in any 12-month period.

Case 2
  • You’ve reached preservation age, plus 39 weeks, and
  • you’ve been receiving Commonwealth income support payments for a cumulative period of 39 weeks since reaching preservation age, and
  • you’re not gainfully employed at the date of application (unemployed or employed for less than 10 hours a week).
Note: There are no restrictions on the amount that can be withdrawn.

The Government has introduced the JobKeeper Payment, which will allow eligible businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus to keep paying wages to certain employees. If you and your employer are eligible for these payments, they could use the subsidy to pay you $1,500 per fortnight before tax for up to six months. 

The Government has advised that your employer will be required to identify any eligible employees and will have to update the ATO every month. Your employer will notify you if you’re receiving the JobKeeper Payment. 

However, some employees may be required to inform their employers or Services Australia of their circumstances. For example, if you have multiple employers, you should talk to your primary employer. You will also need to report a JobKeeper Payment as income.

For more information about the eligibility criteria and any steps you might need to take, you can follow this link.

Employers will not be required to make a superannuation payment as part of the JobKeeper payment.  

How much can be withdrawn from a pension?

When you have an account-based pension you are required to withdraw (or draw down) a minimum amount each financial year. The minimum draw-down rate is a percentage of your account balance, and it changes depending on your age.

The Australian Government has reduced the draw-down rates for the rest of the 2019-20 financial year as well as the 2020-21 financial year.
 
Age Default minimum draw-down
rate (% of account balance)
Reduced minimum draw-down
rates for the 2019-20 and 2020-21
financial years
(% of account balance)
Younger than 65 4 2
65-74 5 2.5
75-79 6 3
80-84 7 3.5
85-89 9 4.5
90-94 11 5.5
95 or older 14 7

If you’d like to reduce the minimum amount you can withdraw under the new government levels for the current 2019-20 financial year, you’ll need to let us know.

You can do this online in MemberAccess. Go to the ‘Pension details’ tab in ‘Your account’ and click on ‘Edit details’. Then change your Nomination Type from ‘Nominated Amount’ to ‘Minimum’. Even if you were previously receiving the default minimum payment amount, this will switch over your payments to the new reduced minimum rates. Make sure you click both the ’save’ and then ‘confirm’ buttons to ensure we receive your election.

You can also email us at pension@rest.com.au to let us know.

If your Rest Pension welcome letter stated your membership started from 25 March 2020 onwards, the new reduced minimum will already apply to you. 

If your Rest Pension membership started prior to 25 March 2020, and you’d like to choose the new reduced minimum rates, you’ll need to let us know. 

You can do this online in MemberAccess. Go to the ‘Pension details’ tab in ‘Your account’ and click on ‘Edit details’. Then change your Nomination Type from ‘Nominated Amount’ to ‘Minimum’. Even if you were previously receiving the default minimum payment amount, this will switch over your payments to the new reduced minimum rates. Make sure you click both the ’save’ and then ‘confirm’ buttons to ensure we receive your election.

You can also email us at pension@rest.com.au to let us know.

For the 2020-21 financial year, we’ll automatically apply the new reduced minimum rate to members who’ve chosen or been defaulted into the minimum pension payment on or after 25 March 2020. But we’ll be contacting all Rest Pension members before the start of next financial year to confirm what you’d like to do. 

Your payments will stay the same for the remainder of the 2019-20 financial year, unless you tell us otherwise.

If you’re currently on the previous minimum rate and wish to keep this for the 2020-21 financial year, you’ll need to let us know. We’ll be contacting all Rest Pension members before the start of the 2020-21 financial year to confirm what you’d like your payment arrangements to be.

The temporary reduction in minimum drawdown requirements is to help you manage the impact of investment market volatility on your retirement savings. Everyone’s individual circumstances are different, so you might like to talk with a financial adviser to help decide what’s best for you.  

You can visit rest.com.au/advice for information on what a Rest Adviser can offer. There’s information on Rest Advice at the end of this FAQ.

Investments and your super

We understand the uncertainty at the moment can be concerning. Global investment markets are highly volatile, and there is a rapid stream of unsettling news coming from around the world.

Your super balance may have dropped because of this volatility. It’s natural to be concerned. But it’s important to remember - super is a long-term investment, typically with a horizon of at least 10 years. It is designed to ride out shorter-term market volatility.

Depending on your age, you could have many more years of work ahead of you. Even if you’re in your 50s, you still could have 10 years or more to accumulate super and gain investment returns.

Our default investment option, Core Strategy has returned an average return of 8.5% per year since it started in 1988 (up to 29 Feb 2020). This includes major market downturns like the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008.

Before you decide on your investment options, consider speaking to a financial adviser. The Rest Advice team can talk you through your options.
At Rest we place an emphasis on managing your retirement savings in the knowledge that short-term market shocks can occur.

Our default Core Strategy investment option is diversified. It’s also invested in more defensive assets like cash and bonds, not just shares. It is also invested in property and infrastructure.

In recent years, we took the view that Australian and global share markets were overvalued and vulnerable to a shock event, like this pandemic.

For that reason, we’ve been reducing the number of shares we held in the Core Strategy for the past few years. We’ve also increased the amount of money invested in defensive assets like cash.

Our investment experts are meeting regularly to monitor the situation as it develops and will respond as required.

While we still don’t know the full impact of the coronavirus, please be assured we’ve planned for risks like this in our investment strategy.
During the past few years, Rest has been strategically reducing the number of shares we hold in the Core Strategy:
  • The Core Strategy currently has a 38% allocation to the overseas and Australian shares asset classes – a   lower allocation compared with recent years.^
  • We also currently have 12% of the fund in ‘cash’, a more defensive asset class. Holding cash also means we have funds available to purchase shares or other assets at attractive prices after markets fall, so members can benefit more when markets start rising again.^
  • The Core Strategy’s other investments include property (like office buildings), infrastructure (like ports and wind farms), and other assets not listed on the share market. These are a mix of growth and defensive assets which balance the investment risk in the fund.^
^ Allocations correct up to 29 Feb 2020.
Following a long period of continued growth and new record highs, the Australian and global share markets are reacting to international concern around the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices.

In recent years we’ve noticed heightened risks in these global markets. These global risk factors include historically low interest rates combined with high levels of debt. Risky markets are more vulnerable to ‘shock’ events, like a pandemic, which trigger major market falls or volatility.

The economic impact of the coronavirus remains uncertain. Many analysts have concerns about global and Australian growth slowing because of the coronavirus. Most global share markets have fallen from recent highs and have been highly volatile, and some commodity prices and currencies have also moved significantly.
Due to the current economic environment, the value of some of the properties we directly invest in (sometimes called unlisted property) has dropped in value. As such, Rest lowered the value our property asset class by 8.56%. This decrease in value will be factored into the overall value of all our investment options that include property assets.
           
This reflects the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on particular properties. For example, retail and office properties may receive lower rent in times of economic stress, which can impact their overall value.
 
As the economic impact of the coronavirus evolves and becomes clearer, we will continue to review the value of our direct property assets and adjust their prices according to their appropriate value. Any changes in the overall value of the Rest Property option will be reflected in its unit price, which can be found here.
Rest’s unlisted property investments are reviewed regularly by independent valuers. In times of unusual market volatility, we may review the value more often. The value of the assets may go up or down as a result, to reflect their appropriate worth.
This decrease in value will be reflected in all of Rest’s investment options that include an allocation to property.
 
Members who are invested in our Property option will see a decrease in the value of this investment.
 
Members who are invested in Core Strategy, or other ‘structured options’ like Balanced, Capital Stable, Diversified and High Growth, will see a value that reflects all the different assets these options hold.
 
Our structured options have diversified investments in a variety of different asset classes, for example shares, bonds and cash, and have different amounts allocated to each asset class depending on the risk levels defined by each relevant option. The value of each structured option will reflect the total value of all the assets it holds.
When you first join Rest Super or Rest Corporate, your super is automatically invested in the Core Strategy - unless you tell us otherwise. Members can also choose from a number of investment options to suit their personal investment horizons and attitude to risk.

The Core Strategy is a diversified fund, with a mix of growth and defensive assets. It has a long-term horizon of at least 10 years. If markets fall in the short-term, then your account balance can reduce during this time.

During a 20-year period, for example, we estimate 3-4 years will have negative returns. If you’re invested in the Core Strategy or other options with growth assets, you may have noticed your super balance has fallen recently.

Core Strategy has returned an average return of 8.5% per year since it started in 1988 (up to 29 Feb 2020). This includes major market downturns like the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008 and the dot-com crash in 2000.

We actively manage how we invest in various assets to respond to risks and opportunities. But past returns cannot provide an assurance of future performance.

If you’re concerned about your situation and want to review your investment strategy, you should consider speaking to a financial adviser. The Rest Advice team can talk you through your options.

Insurance and the coronavirus

Rest insurance is provided by TAL Life Limited. This insurance does not exclude pandemics.

Rest’s income protection covers our members who are too sick or injured to work for an extended period. If you suffer from sickness or injury and can’t return to work for an extended period, you may be able to lodge an income protection claim with Rest, once you meet the eligibility criteria.
Coronavirus is generally unlikely to be claimable under Rest's income protection cover. Not because we exclude it, but because our default income protection is designed to cover members who are sick and can’t work for the initial waiting period of more than 60 days. In most cases the symptoms of coronavirus don’t result in people being off work ill for more than 60 days. It’s important to check your waiting period, which you can do by calling us, or you can do online from 1 April in the Insurance tab of MemberAccess.
Income protection covers people who are too sick or injured to work for an extended period. Unfortunately, redundancy is not covered by income protection insurance.
Your income protection will not be affected if you’re working from home and then become too sick or injured to work. You’ll still need to meet the eligibility criteria if you want to lodge a claim with Rest. Our default income protection cover is designed to cover members who are sick or injured and can’t work for more than 60 days.
Your income protection will continue on the same terms and conditions if you go on leave without pay that has been approved by your employer, or if you go on parental leave from your employer. However, it may not continue if you’re still on leave without pay beyond the earliest of:
− your agreed and scheduled return to work date
− 24 months.

Your cover will continue under the same terms, only if your employer has approved the leave in writing before you go on leave. You may also be asked for proof that your agreed leave, and scheduled return to work date, were approved.

Conditions may apply including insurance cover ending due to 13 months continuous inactivity on your super account, unless you’ve chosen to keep your cover. You’ll also need to make sure there is enough money in your super to pay your insurance costs during your leave.

If your income protection claim is successful, the payment will start at the end of the 60 day waiting period, or the date your leave period was scheduled to end (whichever is later).
Your claim will be paid once you have met the waiting period and following an assessment of the
claim. It is not backdated to the day you contracted the illness or stopped working
While we understand you may need the payment, withdrawing all your super will close your Rest account. This means your insurance will also end as there is no money to pay your monthly insurance premium.

If you’d like to keep your insurance, please leave enough in your account to cover the cost of your insurance. If you run low on funds after that, we’ll send you a letter and you’ll have 28 days to top up your super to reinstate your insurance. The top up contribution will need to be enough to cover any outstanding premiums and fees or your insurance won’t restart.

How will Rest manage as offices close

We’ve taken steps to ensure our operations and services are maintained for the duration. You can continue to contact us as normal using email, Live Chat, the Rest App, and our Virtual Agent Roger. You can also call our contact centre on 1300 300 778.

However, even with the steps we’ve taken, it’s likely we’ll have high numbers of members calling, leading to delays. If you experience delays, we’re sorry for any inconvenience this causes. We ask for your patience and understanding – we’ll get to your inquiry as quickly as we can.
As one of the largest super funds in Australia, like any large financial institution, we have comprehensive plans to manage an event like this. Our processes, back up plans and financial reserves help to ensure we can continue to manage member accounts, make payments as needed, and continue services to our members.

Can I get professional advice

You can visit rest.com.au/advice for information on what a Rest Adviser can offer.

We also provide Online Advice through a number of self-service online tools you can access 24/7. Log into rest.com.au/memberaccess to check them out. For example you can try our ‘Investment choice’ tool to check your investment risk profile, to see what investment option may be right for you.
At the moment, our Advice team is experiencing a high number me member of calls, but will get to your inquiry as soon as they can. We know that isn’t convenient, and we’re sorry for that. But it’s important you know what your options are, so we ask for your patience.

They’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
We offer simple advice about where to invest your super, at no extra cost for Rest members. We won’t charge you any extra for simple super questions. If you need more complex advice from a Rest Adviser, or comprehensive face-to-face financial planning, you’ll be charged a fee which you may be able to pay out of your super. We’ll always talk to you about this fee first.

Common types of coronavirus scams

Phishing texts/emails and phone calls impersonating entities. These include; Superfunds, Government Authorities (ATO/Centrelink), Financial Advisors, Legitimate Business. They may also ask you to conference call into a financial organisation to allow for you to easily provide them access to your account. The goal of these calls is to access your personal and financial information to commit fraud.
Products or services being offered claiming to be a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus or access to goods/services which are currently in short supply. The goal of these calls is to access your personal and financial information to commit fraud.

With the market experiencing unprecedented volatility scammers are cold calling offering investment opportunities to protect retirement funds and savings. The goal of these calls is to access your personal and financial information to commit fraud.