Early rush on super exceeds expectations
The number of cash-strapped Australians rushing to access their super early under the Federal Government's scheme is likely to climb well above the expected 2.2 million applicants.
Already 1.8 million applications have been approved and more than $14.8 billion has been withdrawn since the scheme started in April, giving successful applicants up to $10,000 of their retirement savings prematurely.
The Federal Government has estimated $29 billion will be withdrawn under the scheme.
Between July 1 and September 24 eligible applicants who have had significant drops to their income can access $10,000.
Pregnant mother-of-two Sheree Mueller, 38, from Cobblebank, 31km west of Melbourne, is one of many applicants who have been furious with industry fund Hostplus for the long delays in getting her money.
"I've lost close to $1600 a fortnight by not working and this has been incredibly stressful waiting for the money," she said.
"We've put a deposit down on a package for a new mattress, lounge, dining table and nursery so the money was going towards that and to pay off some credit card debt."
Mrs Mueller works in hospitality and has been without work since COVID-19 hit, forcing her to apply for early super access on May 7.
She got approval from the ATO just four days later, but three weeks on she is still waiting to withdraw $10,000 from her $56,000 in retirement savings.
The financial regulator, the Australian Prudential and Regulation Authority, recommends funds process applications within five business days of receiving them from the ATO.
Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Senator Jane Hume said the scheme has helped a lot of Australians in financial trouble.
"This flexible, demand driven, voluntary initiative allows Australians who've suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19 to withdraw some of their hard-earned savings," she said.
"It is important to remember that behind every one of these applications is a story of financial hardship.
"This is a targeted, temporary and proportionate measure allowing Australians to access their own money, when they need it most."
Industry Super Australia chief executive officer Bernie Dean said funds are taking a "prudent approach to deliver members the support they need quickly".
"While we'll continue to support those in need, we're also looking out for investments that will get member savings and the economy growing again," he said.
"We've encouraged people to look at other supports available and to think carefully about tapping in to their super because it does come with a hefty price tag down the track- especially for younger workers."
A Hostplus spokesman said some members have experienced delays in receiving their early release payments.
"We are working through all outstanding requests as a matter of urgency," he said.
Originally published as Early rush on super exceeds expectations