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Understand the basics of superannuation
Definition of superannuation
Superannuation is a compulsory scheme where a person has money paid by their employer to a super fund so they are financially supported when they retire from the workforce.
Superannuation, also known as ‘super’, is a way of saving money while you are working, so that you will have money when you retire.
While you are working, your employer puts away a percentage of your salary each pay, to make sure you have money to live on in the future.
If you are over age 18 (or under 18 and working more than 30 hours per week) your employer is required by law to pay 11% of your ordinary time earnings (OTE) into your super fund – this is called a Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contribution.
Some employers may also make extra contributions to your super so check with your payroll office to see if this applies to you.
Once your super fund receives your SG contribution, they look after your money for you until you are ready to retire. You can also add extra money to your super on top of what your employer pays – and potentially pay less tax as well – so you'll have even more money in your super account when you retire.
Over the course of your life, your super fund will help you to grow your super balance by investing the money that you or your employer puts into your super account.
You can let your super fund decide how your money is invested, or make your own investment choice. More about the basics of investing in super.
It's important to remember that while money goes into your super and can grow over time with investment returns, your balance is also affected by fees, insurance costs (if you have insurance), and taxes. That's why it's important to choose a super fund with low fees and understand what insurance your super fund offers.
As super is there for you to spend once you stop working, there are rules around when you can access it. Generally:
Other rules apply if you are under age 60 and born before 1 July 1964. Learn more.
There are also some situations where you can apply to access your super early such as if you are a temporary resident who has left Australia.
Most people can choose which superannuation fund they want their money paid into. If you don't tell your employer where to pay your super, they'll pay it into their default fund.
Choosing a super fund is an important decision. How your fund performs over the long term, fees, investment choice, and insurance options are just some of the things to consider when finding the best super fund in Australia.
What to do next
If you don't know where your super is being paid, ask your employer. Your payslip should also show how much money is being put into your super fund each pay.
Giving your super fund your tax file number (TFN) can help you avoid paying extra tax and may allow you to make other types of contributions. If you have a QSuper account, you can add your TFN to your account in Member Online.
Update my details
If you change jobs, make sure you tell your new employer which super fund you’re with – or you could end up having multiple accounts and paying extra fees. You can keep your QSuper account when you change jobs.
1. If you hold a Defined Benefit account, there are some important considerations before you access your super when you are still working.