Super for Surgery – ATO Applications and Implications for your Tax and Pension

Implications of Using Your Super for Surgery – Early Superannuation Release

Early Super Withdrawal in Australia for Medical Reasons/Surgery via the ATO

Many patients are using super for surgery in Australia. There are some taxation and other wealth implications to consider. So, what are the Pros and Cons? Consult your Accountant or Financial Adviser for advice before you withdraw.

Learn more about Body Contouring 

Super Withdrawal Application Process for Medical Treatments/Surgery

  • When you apply through the ATO, the application process can take around 14 days.
  • You will usually not only need to fill in paperwork but you’ll also need photographic evidence.
  • In many cases, you will be applying for either medically necessary reasons or, for financial hardship.
  • Furthermore, you will need reports from at least two medical practitioners or surgeons agreeing that your surgery is medically indicated.
  • You will apply for early super withdrawal directly from your MYGOV account, your MYGOV account is also how you will be kept informed.
  • However, if you don’t yet have one, you will need to create one.



FAQ about Early Withdrawal of Super for Surgery

Am I guaranteed to get early withdrawal approved for medical reasons or surgery?

  • Unfortunately, no, there is no guarantee.
  • It depends on your individual case and circumstance.
  • You will also be required to apply directly through the ATO.
  • Furthermore, you will need to provide detailed documentation and affirmation of your needs and surgical requirements.
  • There are companies like Supercare that can help with your application for a Fee.

How long does the process take when you apply for early Super withdrawal for medical reasons?

  • It depends on how much information you have on hand. Paperwork includes;
    • Medical/surgery or doctor reports
    • Financial statements
    • And more
  • At a minimum, allow at least 2-3 hours to complete the application online, longer if you don’t yet have a MYGOV account or your paperwork, photographs and documentation isn’t in order
  • Once you submit your application to the ATO for early release, a decision will be made by the ATO within about 14 days.
  • You’ll be kept up to date via your MYGOV account.

What happens after early Super withdrawal approval?

  • If approved for early release, you will then need to send the forms to your Super Fund
  • Allow at least 4 to 8 weeks for the entire process.
  • Longer if medical scans and other reports are needed or if there is a delay in processing

The early Super Withdrawal Application process can feel frustrating for patients and may impede your desired surgery date. So, be sure you have your paperwork, documentation, photographs and medical reports in order.

Media Stories: Using Super for Surgery (in the news):

News stories have highlighted that some patients are using early withdrawal of their Super Fund assets for life-changing surgery. It’s not a large proportion of patients but early withdrawal requests for Super for Surgery are commonly used for the following Surgery procedures.


Early Release of Superannuation – Surgery and Compassionate Grounds

Criteria for Early Release of Super for Compassionate Reasons such as Medical Needs including Plastic Surgery, Reports Required with Photographic Evidence along with your Application

  • Procedures that reduce chronic pain may still qualify (e.g., Breast Reduction) but it may depend on your; Condition, Application process, Super and income status and, other reasons for requesting early release of Superannuation for surgery.
  • Requests for early Super release for Surgery are typically made on compassionate grounds and are being used to address chronic and/or life-threatening health conditions.
  • However, they are also used for life-enhancing surgeries. Such as chronic pain in women seeking breast reduction procedures.
  • The argument has been that quality of life impacts overall health, well-being and longevity.
  • Furthermore, the case has been made that SUPER is no good to people who are no longer alive due to a condition such as obesity, which could be treated effectively with Weight Loss Surgery funded by Super Withdrawals (in the past).

Surgeries some individuals were able to access early withdrawal of their Superannuation funds on compassionate grounds include:

  1. Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery (Gastric Band/Lap band, Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass)
  2. Breast Reduction Surgery (Reduction Mammoplasty)
  3. Reconstructive Surgery: such as used to correct;
    • A facial deformity
    • Reconstruct a breast after cancer
    • Or, correct the appearance after an injury
  4. Skin Reduction Surgery after Weight Loss (reduction of skin folds or repair of abdominal hernias)
  5. Rhinoplasty (Corrective Nose Surgery after Injury or to repair a deviated septum or broken nose)
  6. Dental Surgery
  7. Orthopaedic Surgery (bone surgery)
  8. IVF Treatments

Your Super Preservation Age and Tax implications of early withdrawal – something to consider.

If you request an early release of your SUPER, you WILL be taxed on that income in that year. Consult your Accountant or Financial Advisor.

It’s typically taxed at a higher rate and can change your annual income tax bracket, but it depends on marginal tax rates and other assessments.

  • Tax rates on early super withdrawals may depend on your preservation age which rests on your date of birth.
  • Find out what Preservation Age and Super Withdrawal means.

Some patients were not aware that early withdrawal of SUPER impacts their taxes and must be declared as income in the year it is released.

Tax Implications and Impacts for Early Withdrawal of Super Funds for Surgery

What kind of tax rate will I incur if I am granted early withdrawal of Super fund money to pay for my Surgery?

  • While you may be able to gain access to your Super for medically-needed Surgery there are  TAX implications.
  • It may depend on your marginal tax rate as well as your PRESERVATION age.
  • Read more about ATO tax rates and Preservation Ages for early superannuation withdrawal below.
  • Your withdrawal may be taxed at a marginal tax rate or higher, depending on numerous factors.
  • Another implication is your ultimate RETIREMENT funding for Superannuation.
  • So in addition to more instantaneous tax implications, early super withdrawal can have implications on your financial stability in later life.

How to log in to your MyGov account (Australia) to apply for early Super release.

Do you have enough Super?

Be sure you ask a Financial Advisor for information before you decide to access Super for surgery.

What are the compassionate grounds for early super release? (Excerpt from ATO website)

Eligible circumstances for compassionate release of superannuation

“There are specific circumstances for requesting early release of super on compassionate grounds. These are:

  • Medical – treatment or transport
  • Accommodating a disability
  • Palliative care for a terminal illness
  • The recent passing of a dependant
  • Preventing foreclosure or forced sale of home
Access on compassionate grounds | Australian Taxation Office
Information for individuals about withdrawing and paying tax on their super.

Why do patients seek early withdrawal of Super for Surgery?

  • One of the most notable reasons patients want to use Super Fund resources for life-changing surgery relates to the problem of Obesity in Australia.
  • Unfortunately, the current Medicare health system does not cover a surgical weight loss treatment for this chronic disease.
  • And, not all patients have Private Health Cover. Even if they do, there is typically a gap that can be thousands of dollars.

In the case of the recurring problem of obesity and the effective treatment option of weight loss surgery, many patients are left to fund their own surgery procedures, which can be very costly. In cases like Obesity and weight loss surgery, patients have been known to request early withdrawal of Super Fund / Superannuation resources to have surgery.  The scenario is that, for many patients who struggle with chronic Obesity, their lives would be cut short, without an effective treatment such as weight loss surgery. A number of patients would simply not live long enough to use their Super unless they first overcome the problems associated with chronic Obesity, that hasn’t been resolved by non-surgical approaches.

Using SUPER for Surgery: Surgery that people may be able to use their Super Fund resources to fund.

Plastic Surgery
  • The below weight Loss Surgery options to reduce obesity and life-threatening health conditions also reduce cardiovascular and diabetes risks;
      • (Gastric Sleeve
      • Gastric Bypass
      • Lap band or Gastric Balloon
  • Skin reduction surgery of redundant skin tissues to help return body contours after significant weight loss.
  • Breast Reduction Surgery or Reconstructive Breast Surgery (such as Breast Lift Surgery) to reduce back, shoulder or neck pain.
  • Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) surgery to repair torn abs and strengthen the core abdominal muscles linked with back pain and urinary incontinence (e.g. to repair parts of the body damaged during pregnancy or childbirth or other abdominal traumas)
  • Corrective Rhinoplasty after a nose injury or to repair a deviated septum interfering with proper breathing.
  • Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Lift Surgery) when sagging eyelids impede vision.
  • Male Breast Reduction for Gynaecomastia.
  • Infertility (helping to fund IVF treatments for couples who find themselves unable to get pregnant)

How DO patients typically pay for their Plastic Surgery procedures?

  • Options for paying for desired plastic or cosmetic surgery generally include:
    • Savings Accounts
    • Credit Cards
    • Or, Family Loans
    • Gifts
    • Divorce Settlements
    • Or, Inheritance Funds
    • Pre-paying on a house mortgage as a form of Savings that can also reduce interest temporarily as you save up for surgery
    • Early withdrawal requests of Super Funds based on compassionate grounds.

It is important to do your homework and get professional financial advice on any of these options for your financial well-being. It’s also crucial to recognise that early withdrawal of Super for Surgery payment methods is always up to each individual Super Fund administrator AND that it has TAX implications and FUTURE retirement funding implications. For other types of rebates or funds for surgery, such as Medicare or Health Insurance for Plastic Surgery, certain criteria may also apply.

Getting payment method advice is a great idea before embarking on any of these options for Surgery.

  • Sometimes, Medicare and/or your Health Funds will also contribute a small portion to the cost of certain corrective surgeries (but not Cosmetic Surgery).
  • Phone the Patient Care Team on (03) 8849 1444
  • Or, contact your private Health Insurance Fund if you have questions about eligibility requirements.
  • For Medicare Rebates for Corrective Surgery after pregnancy, for example, there are specific criteria for how old your children need to be BEFORE you qualify for any rebates on Abdominoplasty or Breast Reduction.

Other conditions that may qualify for minor rebates often need GP or Specialist evaluations, such as vision problems relating to sagging upper eyelids (requiring Corrective Eyelid Surgery known as an Upper Blepharoplasty) or repairing a damaged nose or deviated septum with Rhinoplasty.

Stay up to date on changes to Medicare by reading our top-rated Plastic Surgery blog and signing up for our e-newsletters.

Medicare rebates and Health Fund Rebates are subject to change without notice; so plan ahead if you want to take advantage of any current eligibility for minor rebates.

Here are several reasons why our blogging team believes it’s important for patients with recurrent health problems to be able to request early access for Super to Pay for Surgery (when they have no other means to attain the surgery they require).

Common Reasons for early Super release requests for Plastic Surgery

They want to be able to afford quality Australian Surgical Care. Good surgery performed in a top hospital doesn’t come cheap.

  • Care standards & surgery safety precautions in Australian Hospitals are typically very high.
  • Costs may also be higher as hospital theatre costs in Australia reflect many factors required to run a quality, safety-first facility with patient safety foremost in mind.

The rise in overseas medical tourism – including the consequential costs to Australia’s health care system due to many cases of botched cosmetic surgery performed overseas at cheap rates may partially relate to the fact that people requiring surgery may have limited funds. So some patients choose cheap or discounted surgery options with less qualified doctors or unknown medical doctors in foreign countries. But overseas medical tourism can;

  • readily backfire
  • lead to disfigurement
  • psychological distress
  • The need for revision surgery (which is very expensive)
  • And, ongoing medical help.

There is usually no easy way to seek recourse or revision from the original doctor, plus, not all surgical errors by less experienced Surgeon’s can be fixed.

Medical Tourism: Read more about the dangers of cheap cosmetic surgery options including that having an op overseas adds to the everyday risks of surgery.

Increased risks of medical tourism and surgery performed with unknown surgeons highlights the heightened risks. Our Patient Care Coordinators regularly receive calls from desperate patients who want revision surgery – but some things simply can’t be fixed.

Obesity: Weight Loss Surgery Saves Patient’s Lives

  • Sometimes, as in the case of Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery, the patient’s life is actually at risk.
  • Obesity has many components including, misfiring brain synapses that prevent a person from burning body fat the way that others do.
  • Without some form of change to their condition, such as via Bariatric surgery, a person suffering from ongoing Obesity has a high risk of developing numerous chronic diseases that can lead to disability and early death.
  • So, some patients who need weight loss surgery and post-weight loss body contouring (skin reduction) are using early release of their Super for surgery.
  • For weight loss procedure information and bariatric surgeon directories, click here.

Skin Folds: Body Contouring After Weight Loss to Reduce Redundant Skin Folds that are causing problems and social discomforttummy-fat-after-weight-loss-liposuction-1

  • After losing weight through lifestyle changes or dietary changes, formerly heavy patients often have skin laxity. In other words, extra folds of loose skin.
  • This excess skin causes;
    • recurrent skin infections
    • Unpleasant odours
    • Chaffing
    • Rashes/sores
    • Social discomfort
    • And back pain.
  • Having excess skin folds after weight loss also impedes a person’s ability to exercise comfortably.
  • In spite of their weight loss, the remain over-stretched skin can often impede a patients ability to participate in cardiovascular exercises. It can also make it difficult to stay fit after losing weight. Whether due to getting a Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass, Lapband or Gastric Balloon procedure.

Large Breasts Causing Neck Pain and Back Pain: Breast Reduction Surgery can reduce physical pain and chronic skin conditions

incontinence-back-pain-related-to-pregnancy; government and medicare being asked to finance tummy tuck surgery rebates after pregnancy
  • Women who have heavy, large breasts are often plagued with a variety of problems from;
    • balance problems
    • posture issues
    • back, neck and shoulder pain.
  • But there’s also the skin issues of chaffing or bra-strap dig-ins and social discomfort.
  • Pendulous or low hanging heavy breast tissue is also a problem.
  • Social, psychological and physical well being are all readily improved for most patients who choose Breast Reduction Surgery with a good Surgeon (it’s a highly complex procedure so you really want to get it right the first time).

Diastasis Recti (Separated, damaged Abdominal Muscles after pregnancy), Hernias and Skin Folds

  • Pregnancy and weight loss often leave redundant, sagging skin and a very changed abdominal region for Mums.
  • For some patients, there is a LOT of extra skin.
  • Skin folds and abdominal area sagging can not only leave patients vulnerable to recurring skin infections but chafing and rashes as well.
  • This excess abdominal area fat, skin and weight also affects metabolism, mood and social well-being.
  • For some women, depression caused by the look of their bodies leads to diminished quality of life
  • Whereas the right surgery at the right time, with a caring Plastic Surgeon, can make a major difference.
  • Read our blogs about Diastasis Recti
  • Or, the Abdominoplasty Tummy Tuck) pages for more information.
  • Or phone (03) 8849 1444 and ask for a downloadable e-book Guide to Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty).


  • Noses get injured or broken and deviated septums are more common than people realise.
  • While some people are just born with disproportionate nose sizes or shapes that leave them feeling less attractive or less balanced in terms of facial proportions.
  • A well-executed “nose job” (Rhinoplasty surgery) can also correct breathing problems as well as provide a cosmetic enhancement.
  • However, nose reshaping surgery is very complex and can be costly.
  • In addition, revision requests after Rhinoplasty are common and many less experienced Surgeons can get this Surgery very wrong.

Eyelid Surgery to rectify Vision Impairment Caused by the sagging position of the ageing or injury-impacted eyelid


Male Breast Reduction for Gynaecomastia

  • Some men – many men in fact – develop puffy looking breasts due to a variety of reasons.male breast reduction surgery
  • Plastic Surgery to reduce male breast tissues and flatten the chest appearance can help correct this condition.
  • Visit the Male Breast Reduction surgery for Gynaecomastia page for procedure information.

IVF Treatments

pregnancy IVF
  • Infertility is common and impacts many couples.
  • It is also very expensive to treat with fertility-enhancing options, like expensive In-vitro Fertilisation treatments (IVF).
  • Many of these treatments need to be repeated over many months or even years, or require high-level care during pregnancy.
  • This results in large financial expenditures that continue for a long time, this can lead to financial devastation as well as to emotional distress from infertility-related conditions and a lack of success.

So IVF treatments are a key area that lead some Australian couples to explore treatment payment options for early release of Super Funds to payment methods these recurring IVF treatments.

To Summarise

The general consensus is that people who want surgery are seeking payment methods or ways to fund their surgery from a variety of means, including requesting early release of Super for Surgery on compassionate or medical grounds.

For further information on the plastic surgery procedures listed above, send an enquiry form below or phone us during clinic hours on (03) 8849 1444 to speak with a caring, empathetic Patient Care Coordinator.

Visit our Downloadable Guides pages – Read about Surgery Options in Melbourne and Sydney

For more information about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery options and research in Australia.

Plastic Surgery Guides Melbourne

Download our free guides or phone (03) 8849 1444 today – and ask for a no-obligation consultation.

Further Reading about Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Last updated: 24/10/2023
Author profile image
Lyshai Brombara
Lyshai - Patient Liaison Manager at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Lyshai appreciates the organisation required to get things done in today’s hectic life. Her role as Patient Experience Manager Lyshai is a great guide for your plastic surgery journey.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 599 990, Email us: or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Consultation with a Surgeon.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.