The Senior

What happens to my super if I return to work after retiring?

There are issues to consider before taking the plunge to re-enter the workforce after retirement. Picture Shutterstock
There are issues to consider before taking the plunge to re-enter the workforce after retirement. Picture Shutterstock

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Have you retired and been able to access your superannuation savings but are now considering returning to work?

It's not uncommon. People may decide to resume working for many reasons. Maybe they realised they weren't as ready to put their feet up as they thought they were. Or maybe they're concerned they won't have sufficient funds for the retirement they want and so need to work longer.

Whatever the reason, there are issues to consider before taking the plunge to re-enter the workforce, including what happens to your super, says financial planner and superannuation expert Cheryl Haines from NGS Super.

"There's nothing stopping you from returning to work after you've retired and started accessing your super, but what happens after depends on a few details you need to think about that will impact your financial situation," said Ms Haines.

"There is much to consider, including income needs, level of super and what you may have started by way of an income stream or not. Individualised strategies are the best way to plan for your future."

NGS Super financial planner Cheryl Haines.
NGS Super financial planner Cheryl Haines.

A key consideration is your preservation age - that's the age you must reach before you can access your super. You may find that if you return to work you are restricted from accessing some of your super.

Ms Haines gave as an example, Sally, a 63-year-old retiree, who has satisfied a condition of super release; she could also set up a pension and as a consequence can draw all her money out of super if she wants to. She would have full access to her super balance at that point in time.

"However, if Sally then goes back to work, because she is still under 65 the contributions made to superannuation beyond that date when she returned to work may be subject to preservation until she meets another condition of release.

"But the situation changes for those 65 and over. For example, Bob is 65 and has already met a condition of release so never needs to meet a condition of release again - even if he goes back to work. So Bob could work part-time for example and recommence making contributions to his super and access this whenever he wants."

Before heading back

Before you commit to returning to work it's valuable to take some time to examine your lifestyle, finances and funding needs to make sure you're putting yourself in the best position for the future, said Ms Haines.

"What's your budget? If you've commenced an income stream with your super fund is the extra income necessary? Consider your budget and your overall cashflow, including the pension or other benefits and opportunities available to you," she said.

"This might determine what type of work you take on, for example part-time, casual etc and whether you continue to receive the same or reduced amount from your income stream."

"Look at your tax position - depending on your position and any other income, you might be able to commit a little bit extra to superannuation by way of contributions that might be effective for you."

If you are receiving an age pension then you might also need to consider the government's Work Bonus incentive which increased the amount an eligible pensioner can earn from work before it affects their pension rate.

Combined with the pension income-free area, the Work Bonus means a single pensioner could earn up to $504 a fortnight from work and still receive the maximum rate of pension.

"The Work Bonus was introduced to reward pensioners who generate income from work, allowing them to keep more of their pension," said Ms Haines.

Getting advice

Engaging with a financial planner is a way to ensure you're putting in place the most effective money management strategy and are aware of all the opportunities available to you. "There's a range of ways NGS Financial Planners can help, both in and outside of your super, with advice tailored to your goals and circumstances to help maximise your financial position."

This is part of a series of articles to help you prepare financially for the various stages of life. Each month, an NGS Super expert will answer your questions. Got a question? Just email it through to

The information provided is general information only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information or making an investment decision, consider your personal circumstances and read our Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination available at for more information.