How to Access Your KiwiSaver Early

Your KiwiSaver is your golden nest egg waiting for you upon retirement. But if you don’t want to wait until your grey and old, or you’re in need of some cash now, how can you access your KiwiSaver early? Canstar takes a look.

When can you access your KiwiSaver?

KiwiSaver is a superannuation or retirement scheme. As this suggests, you get access to it when you’re of retirement age. Currently, that age is 65. To clarify, you don’t have to actually be retired, so you can keep on working well into your golden years and still have access to your KiwiSaver fund.

There are, however, a few instances when you can withdraw from your KiwiSaver fund before you hit the golden age of retirement:

Young couple toasting moving into their first home with champagne

A first home deposit

The state of house prices in New Zealand is probably our worst-kept secret. Across the country, the average house price has risen beyond anyone’s expectations. As a result, securing a deposit can be pretty challenging. Try $235,000 for the average home in Auckland.

Thankfully, your KiwiSaver fund can be used as a first home deposit so long as:

  • You’ve had KiwiSaver for at least three years
  • The deposit is for your first-home
  • The house (or land) is in New Zealand
  • You will be living in the house
  • You leave a minimum of $1000 left in your KiwiSaver account

→ Related article: What First Home Buyer Grants and Incentives are on Offer?

Financial Hardship

If you’re facing significant financial hardship, you may be eligible to access your KiwiSaver early. Significant financial hardship means that you are unable to meet minimum living expenses. Common minimum living expenses include:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Utilities (power, gas etc.)
  • Basic food and groceries
  • Basic transport costs

Do note that common exemptions, that are not classed as minimum living expenses, and will impact your eligibility are:

  • Credit card debt
  • Subscriptions and membership fees
  • Fines

Accessing your KiwiSaver for significant financial hardship is considered a last resort. This means, in order to qualify, you’ll need to have exhausted other avenues, such as government support or benefits. You’ll also need to supply significant evidence.

Illness

If you’re seriously ill or become disabled, you may be eligible to access your KiwiSaver early. This can also apply if you are the caregiver of someone who has fallen seriously ill or becomes disabled. For example, if your house requires modifications to care for the individual, you may be eligible.

You are leaving New Zealand permanently

Permanently is such a scary word. Obviously, you can’t predict the future. But if you are leaving New Zealand to move overseas, with the intention of it being a permanent move, you may be eligible. If you are moving to Australia, you can apply to transfer your KiwiSaver into a complying Australian superannuation scheme.

If you are moving beyond Australia, you can apply to access your KiwiSaver after one year of living abroad. Again, this is with the intention of the move being permanent. An extended OE doesn’t count.

How can I access my KiwiSaver early?

It’s important to note that whether or not you can access your KiwiSaver early is not up to your KiwiSaver provider. The government set the eligibility criteria.

In saying this, to access your KiwiSaver early you’ll still need to go through your KiwiSaver provider. So, to access your KiwiSaver early, visit your provider’s website, or contact them directly. They’ll be able to help you with the right forms and documentation necessary.

Should I access my KiwiSaver early?

There’s no black or white answer to this question. Everyone’s situation is different. 

Your KiwiSaver is a massive financial asset to have come retirement. Having as much money in your KiwiSaver account as possible will be a real relief. If you can get by without taking money from it, you should do so. 

But if your KiwiSaver is the difference between owning property or renting, it’s a great option to have. Property can be a smart financial investment. And most first home buyers need all the help they can to save for a deposit. In this instance, don’t think of it as dwindling away your retirement funds. Instead, consider it a move of your retirement funds from one asset to another.

If you want to access your KiwiSaver early for financial hardship or illness, well… that’s up to you. While withdrawing money from your KiwiSaver is not ideal, it may be right for you and your situation.

To be honest, if you’re weighing up whether or not you should access your KiwiSaver early, you probably shouldn’t. Accessing your KiwiSaver early is considered a last resort. If you’re unsure about whether you should do it, well then it’s probably not a last resort for you.

If you’re weighing up whether you can access your KiwiSaver early, well that’s another story. While we outlined some of the criteria above, for a more detailed breakdown be sure to talk to your KiwiSaver provider. As mentioned above, everyone’s situation is different.

Compare KiwiSaver providers with Canstar

Whether or not you are withdrawing funds from your KiwiSaver, you’ll want to be getting the best deal. Different KiwiSaver funds suit different people. Are you in the right fund for your needs?

Additionally, KiwiSaver providers charge fees for their services, and some charge more than others. Plus, your KiwiSaver funds get invested into a range of shares. How does your return on investment compare with other providers?

At Canstar we compare a range of KiwiSaver funds and award the best providers accordingly. If you want to know more, or want to see how your KiwiSaver fund stacks up, click the button below:

Compare KiwiSaver funds with Canstar

 


author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.


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