How it Works

Commencing a Pension in your SMSF

When you reach Preservation Age you have the option of commencing a Pension Income Stream from your SMSF.  A Pension simply means that periodically (e.g. each month or other period you nominate) cash is transferred from your SMSF Bank Account to your personal Bank Account to fund your living expenses.

Preservation Age

Generally, you must reach preservation age before you can access your super. Use the following table to work out your preservation age.

Date of birth Preservation Age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 01 July 1964 60

Pension Types

The two types of Pensions that  you can commence in an SMSF are as follows:

Simple Account Based Pension:

A Simple Account Based Pension (SABP) is an income stream that you receive from your SMSF when you reach age 65 or alternatively when you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and "Retired".

For more information on SABP, please click here.

Transition to Retirement Pension:

A Transition to Retirement Pension is an income stream that you commence in your SMSF when you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and NOT "Retired". It is also known as a TRIS/TRAP.

For more information on TRIS, please click here.

Which Pension should you commence?

If you are over 65 or you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and are "Retired" you can only commence an SABP.   If you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and are NOT "Retired" then you can only commence a TRIS.  Therefore in order to determine which Pension to commence the definition of "Retirement" is important and the definition will vary depending on when you cease work.

If you cease employment after age 60, "Retirement" means you simply cease your employment.  In this case the intention to return to the workforce is irrelevant.  This means that you can essentially return to work soon after ceasing your employment after age 60, but you will still deemed to be retired and able to commence a Pension.  The definition of retirement in this case is less stringent than for those under 60. 

If you cease employment between Preservation Age and 59, "Retirement" means that at the time you ceased employment you never intended to work again either on a full-time or part-time basis (defined as more than 10 hours per week).  This declaration must be made to your SMSF and is made at the time you cease employment.  It is noted that whilst a person who ceases employment when aged between Preservation Age and 59 never intends to work again, they may ultimately do so. This will not alter the person's status of being retired enabling them to have access to their Super Benefit notwithstanding they have returned to work. 

As soon as you retire from the workforce and meet the definition of "Retirement', please complete the "Retirement" Application here.

Investments do not change

Nothing changes when you commence a Pension. That is your investments stay as they are.  All that happens is that you execute documentation declaring that you wish to commence accessing your Super Benefit as an income stream.  The documentation is prepared for you by ESUPERFUND when you are ready to commence your Pension.  For example if your SMSF owns cash and shares, then when you commence a Pension these assets stay as they are.  You do not need to sell the shares or transfer the cash to another account in the above example.

Minimum Pension Income

Irrespective of whether you commence an SABP or a TRIS, you must take a Minimum Pension amount annually. The Minimum Pension amount is calculated as a percentage of your Super Balance based on your age as follows:

Age Range Minimum Pension Factor
Under 65 4%
65 - 74 5%
75 - 79 6%
80 - 84 7%
85 - 89 9%
90 - 94 11%
95 or more 14%

In the Pension Commencement Year the percentage to be taken is applied to the Commencement Value of the Pension in that year (prorated if commenced part way during the year). Importantly each Financial Year the Pension Balance is recalculated on 1 July and the percentage is applied to the new balance on that date to determine the minimum amount that must be drawn in the relevant year.

If a SMSF fails to meet the minimum pension payment requirements in a financial year, the pension will be taken to have ceased at the start of that financial year.


For example, assume your SMSF has total assets of $1,000,000. The SMSF has 2 Members, you and your Spouse. Your proportional ownership of the SMSF is 60% so your Super Benefit in the SMSF is $600,000. You decide to commence a Pension with your Super Benefit but your Spouse who has a balance in the SMSF of $400,000 does not commence a Pension as he/she is only aged 50.

Accordingly you apply to commence a Pension using the ESUPERFUND online Pension Application. You nominate a commencement date of 1 January 2024 and are 60 years of age at the date of the Pension commencement. In this case the minimum Pension you must take per annum is 4% or $24,000. However given that the Pension is being commenced halfway during the year then only half of the minimum pension payment must be accessed before 30 June 2024, that is $12,000.

On 1 July 2024, assume that the SMSF assets have increased to $1,100,000. Your 60% proportional interest in the SMSF will in turn increase to $660,000. In this case the minimum pension amount will be recalculated for the following year ending 30 June 2025 to 4% of $660,000 or $26,400. This amount must be accessed before 30 June 2025. The recalculation will continue to occur 1 July each year.

Maximum Pension Income

With an SABP, there is no maximum amount you need to take when you commence an SABP. This means that you can take all your Super Benefit as and when desired.

With a TRIS, the maximum annual pension drawdown for a TRIS is 10%.  This amount is not prorated if the Pension is commenced part way through the financial year.

If a SMSF fails to meet the maximum pension payment requirements in a financial year, the pension will be taken to have ceased at the start of that financial year.

Payment Frequency

Pension payments must be made to your personal Bank Account.  You will need to arrange to transfer monies from your SMSF Bank Account to your personal Bank Account to evidence the Minimum Annual Pension Payment required.  The transfer of monies can occur at any time and for any amount during the Financial Year as long as it is within the Minimum and Maximum Pension Payment thresholds. That is the nominated Pension payment can be paid either monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, on an annual basis or other timeframe you elect, but must be paid at least annually.

Not accessing the Minimum Pension Payment

An SMSF must adhere to the Minimum Pension Payment rules. If a Member does not receive their Minimum Pension Payment for a particular financial year, the pension will be taken to have ceased at the start of that financial year. With a Pension in the Retirement Phase (SABP or R-TRIS), the tax free status of the SMSF income and realised capital gains may be at risk as the Member may not be considered to be in tax-free retirement Pension Phase. In addition one of the objectives of each SMSFs Investment Strategy is to have sufficient liquidity to meet all SMSF outgoings including Pension Payments. Accordingly to ensure that you do not breach the SMSF Investment Strategy and Pension Regulations you must ensure there is always sufficient liquidity to meet all Pension Payment requirements of the SMSF.

How long does it take to establish a Pension?

When you submit a Pension application online with ESUPERFUND you are required to nominate a Pension Commencement Date between 1 July of the current financial year and today's date.  The date nominated will be the Pension Commencement Date. 

You can expect to receive the Pension documentation for signing within 5 working days of making the Pension application if no further information is required from you.

When to commence accessing the Pension

You can commence accessing your Pension at any time after the Pension commencement date nominated in the online Pension application made on the ESUPERFUND website.  It does not matter if the Pension documentation has not been signed or returned to our office.

Additional Contributions and Rollovers are allowable after commencing a Pension

You can continue to contribute to your SMSF and rollover monies to your SMSF from another Superfund, after you commence a Pension. For contributions you are still subject to the contribution rules. For more information on the contribution rules, please click here. You should bear in mind that Concessional Contributions (which include Employer and Salary Sacrificed Contributions) continue to be subject to tax at 15% even after you commence a Pension.

Allocating Contributions and Rollovers after commencing a Pension

Before you commence a Pension (SABP or TRIS) your SMSF Benefit is recorded in your "Accumulation Account". When you commence an SABP or a TRIS your SMSF Benefit is transferred and recorded in your "SABP Account" or "TRIS Account". These are simply "Accounting Entries" in your SMSF and do not require separate Bank Accounts for each Account Type.

Unlike Retail Funds, an SMSF can accept contributions (subject to the normal contributions rules) and rollovers after the SABP/TRIS has commenced. These contributions and rollovers continue to be made to the Transaction Bank Account setup for your SMSF. When you make additional contributions and rollovers to your SMSF after you commence a pension (SABP or TRIS), they are allocated to your "Accumulation Account".

This means that you will have two "Accounting Accounts" at the same time in this case, namely an "SABP Account" or a "TRIS Account" paying your Pension and an "Accumulation Account" which represents the additional contributions and rollovers made to your SMSF after commencing the Pension. The difference between each Account is the "SABP Account" does not pay tax on earnings and realised capital gains but the "Accumulation Account" and "TRIS Account" do pay tax on earnings and realised capital gains at up to 15%.

Commencing Multiple Pensions

If you make rollovers or contributions to your SMSF after commencing a Pension these amounts will sit outside the Pension in the "Accumulation Account" as detailed above. This means that earnings on this part of your Super Benefit will continue to be subject to tax.

You should obtain your own independent financial advice about whether it is more appropriate to commence a second SABP with your “Accumulation Account” balance if you have remaining cap space in the Transfer Balance Account.

What if a second SMSF Member has not commenced an SABP?

If there are two or more Members in the SMSF and one or more Members have not commenced an SABP, then those Members' share of the SMSF still attract tax at up to 15%. Of course those Members can also commence an SABP when eligible, reducing the tax rate on their share of the SMSF income and realised capital gains to 0% also. When ESUPERFUND attends to the annual compliance work for the SMSF, the assets will be prorated between the assets that are in "SABP Account" and the assets that are in "Accumulation Account" and/or "TRIS Account".

For a detailed explanation and an example, please click here.

PAYG Documentation

If you commence a Pension and are aged below 60, the Pension Income you access must be declared in your personal Income Tax Return.  To do this the SMSF must provide to each Member aged below 60 PAYG documentation with the amounts that must be declared in your Tax Return and any rebates that may apply.  The PAYG documentation including the calculation of the relevant amounts to include in your Tax Return is prepared by ESUPERFUND at no additional cost. It should be noted that no PAYG documentation is required for Pension withdrawals made after age 60 given that these withdrawals are tax free and do not need to be declared in your personal tax return.

Pension Setup

There is no additional cost to establish a Pension with ESUPERFUND. 

Ongoing Pension Administration

When you commence a Pension in your SMSF there are a range of additional compliance requirements necessary each year. These additional compliance requirements are all attended to by ESUPERFUND. The ESUPERFUND annual fee does not change even if you commence a Pension. Please note that in some cases, an Actuarial Certificate is required and the cost of an Actuarial Certificate is not included in our annual fee. For more information on Actuarial Certificate, please click here.

Apply Now

When you are ready to commence a Pension, ESUPERFUND will attend to all aspects of the setup process for you. To establish a Pension simply determine which Pension applies to you and click below to apply:

If you are aged over 65 or you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and are "Retired", you have the option to commence an SABP. To apply click here.

If you are aged between Preservation Age and 64 and are NOT "Retired" you have the option to commence a TRIS. To apply click here.

Set up your SMSF with ESUPERFUND Today!