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Accessing my KiwiSaver savings for significant financial hardship

KiwiSaver encourages kiwis to save for their future and build a nest egg for retirement. However, if you're facing significant financial hardship, you might be eligible for an early withdrawal.

There's many factors that can influence how and when you may be able to withdraw your KiwiSaver savings before you are eligible for retirement withdrawals - however it’s important to know that the Government sets these rules for KiwiSaver, not each provider.

How will an early withdrawal impact my future KiwiSaver savings?

It's important to understand that an early withdrawal will make a significant impact on your long-term KiwiSaver savings.

To give you an idea, Sorted NZ share an example of a 35 year old who currently has $22,000 in a KiwiSaver growth fund, who withdraws $20,000. By the age of 65, they would end up having $74,000 less, and even when you adjust for inflation over that 30 years at 2%, it would still be $41,000 less. That is a massive loss for your retirement savings.

 

If you would like to see how an early withdrawal would impact your future KiwiSaver savings, check out our KiwiSaver calculator, go through the steps and enter in your current balance. See what you're currently on track to receive for your retirement, and then reduce the balance by the amount you want to withdraw and see the impact.

What does significant financial hardship mean?

Significant financial hardship is a situation in which a person can't keep up with payments and bills to meet minimum living expenses.

Significant financial hardship can include when you:

  • can't meet minimum living expenses
  • can't pay the mortgage on the home you live in, and your mortgage provider is enforcing the mortgage
  • need to modify your home to meet your special needs or those of a dependent family member
  • need to pay for medical treatment for yourself or a dependent family member
  • have a serious illness
  • need to pay funeral costs of a dependent family member.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions our customers have when thinking about applying for an early withdrawal from their KiwiSaver. 

What are minimum living expenses?

  • basic food and groceries
  • your utility bills: power, water, electricity, phone bills
  • mortgage, rent, board
  • basic transportation costs, petrol, bus fares
  • medical or care costs for yourself or someone who is fully dependant on you

What aren't minimum living expenses?

  • credit card debt or hire purchase payments for non-essential items
  • fines, infringement notices, WINZ debt or Court Orders
  • debt collection bills and costs
  • holidays
  • travel to attend sick relatives
  • subscriptions, fees or membership costs

Who are my dependants?

  • Dependants are people who are financially dependant on you. Typically, this is your partner, relative, or children (under 18). 

Am I likely to qualify for a withdrawal?

When it comes to experiencing significant financial hardship, we know that not every situation is the same. Making a hardship withdrawal from KiwiSaver is a last resort, so you’ll need have exhausted other sources of funds, including Government or bank support before applying. Use our simple tool to see whether you are likely to qualify for a KiwiSaver significant financial hardship withdrawal.

Help me understand

What should I do before I apply?

You'll need to provide evidence you're suffering significant financial hardship and that you have tried to use all other reasonable options available to you to meet your shortfall in funds.

What are my alternative options for funds?

In your application you'll need to provide us documents to support that you explored all other avenues for debt assistance or restructure, even if you think you won't be able to get any help. 

  • Covid-19: if your hardship is in relation to Covid-19 and you are an ASB banking customer, ASB has support packages that might apply and assist your situation. There are also Government packages available to help anyone who is eligible and has been affected by Covid-19 financially. 
  • If your experience is not Covid-19 related, there are still options for you. Talk to your bank: they might be able to help with flexibility on loan repayments and restructure any debt.
  • Budgeting services: speak to an independent budget adviser who can offer you advice about government support, debt consolidation and finance options, and help you complete a budget schedule. We recommend the Money Talks helpline who provide free advice www.moneytalks.co.nz.
  • Work and Income NZ (WINZ): ask WINZ if you are eligible for any assistance.

You can also check out www.sorted.org.nz for help with other things you can do to cope financially, and your local Citizens Advice Bureau, www.cab.org.nz, who can help you with budgeting advice too.

If your financial hardship is likely to continue, you may wish to apply for a savings suspension through Inland Revenue.  A savings suspension allows you to take a break from making contributions to your KiwiSaver to help you meet your on-going living expenses. The form is available here.

What other documentation will I need for my application?

  • Certified copy of your identification
  • Your Statutory Declaration properly signed and witnessed by an authorised person. We understand getting this is currently very difficult, so we have some FAQs where you can find out how to get this completed.
  • Bank statements for the last three months
  • Credit card statements for the last three months
  • Proof of address
  • If you're a homeowner, evidence of your current regular minimum mortgage payments including any amount in arrears
  • If you rent, a copy of your current rental or tenancy agreement or certified letter from your landlord
  • Proof of wages or salary
  • Your redundancy notice if applicable
  • Statements showing current balances, regular minimum payment obligations, and current arrears (i.e. overdue bills) such as finance company loans, rent, fines, personal or car loans, household bills
    • Evidence you sought a repayment plan option with your provider for any that apply above or that you have tried to reduce this to the minimum repayment.

[COVID restrictions only]

What is a Statutory Declaration and who is an authorised person?

A Statutory Declaration under the Oaths And Declarations Act 1957 that is made in New Zealand must be taken by a person described in section 9 of the Act, including:

  • a Justice of the Peace; or
  • a barrister or solicitor of the High Court; or
  • a notary public; or
  • the Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the High Court or of any District Court; or
  • a member of Parliament; or
  • officers of the Crown or of a local authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2002, authorised for that purpose by the Minister of Justice from time to time; or
  • an employee of Public Trust constituted under the Public Trust Act 2001, authorised for that purpose by the Minister of Justice from time to time.

Statutory Declaration made outside New Zealand
A Statutory Declaration made in a Commonwealth country other than New Zealand can be made before a Judge, a Commissioner of Oaths, a notary public, a Justice of the Peace, a Commonwealth representative, a solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand or any other person authorised by the law of that country to administer an oath for a judicial proceeding. A Statutory Declaration made in a country other than a Commonwealth country can be made before a Commonwealth representative, a Judge, notary public or a solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

We understand some documentation may be difficult to provide in the current situation, please see our FAQs where relevant. Please include in your application reasons why you may not have been able to provide any of the documentation requested. We are here to help and will work with you on your options depending on your situation. [Covid restrictions only].

How much can I apply for?

It's important to understand if your application is accepted, you can only withdraw from your and your employer's contributions (not any government contributions), and the amount you can withdraw may be limited to the amount that the Supervisor believes is required to meet your hardship requirements. Generally, this will be up to 13 weeks' worth of your minimum living expenses.

Who decides how much I can withdraw?

  • All KiwiSaver schemes are trusts and have a supervisor. This person is independent of ASB, and the supervisor will decide how much you can withdraw based on your circumstances and your application. We're here to help you prepare your application so that it will be considered by the supervisor.
  • We’ll make the payment (if approved) to your bank account and we may have to adjust the withdrawal amount for any tax liability arising as a result of your withdrawal request.

How do I apply?

If you've read this page and think you qualify for significant financial hardship, please call us for the ASB KiwiSaver Scheme Financial Hardship form on 0800 ASB RETIRE (0800 272 738).

The process to apply

Step 1: Carefully complete the application form. Be sure to not leave anything out.

Step 2: Get all your supporting documents together. Leaving things out will slow down your application, as we'll have to come back to you for more information, or your application may be declined.

Step 3: Take your completed application to a Justice of the Peace, Solicitor, Notary Public, or other authorised person. You'll need to sign the Statutory Declaration in their presence, and they will witness it. We understand this may be difficult in the current circumstances, see our FAQs for how to complete your Statutory Declaration while there are COVID restrictions.

Step 4: Send your application to us (the address is on the back of the form) or drop into any ASB Branch, and make sure you include all the supporting documentation.

Step 5: We'll assess your application and contact you if we require anything further.  

How long does the application process take?

Provided we have all the information we need, and we don't have to come back to you for more, you should have an answer within 15 business days from the date we receive your application.

What happens after I apply?

Step 1: You have carefully completed your application and provided all relevant supporting evidence of your financial situation so that we can make a full assessment.

Step 2: We work through your application to ensure all evidence has been supplied and prepares a financial summary of your application.

  • The time it takes to validate an application varies per case. If we don't require any more information at this stage, your application could take up to as little as 7 working days for us to assess. If we require more evidence, then the length of validating your application may vary, depending on when we receive the additional evidence from you.

Step 3: Application is sent to the Supervisor.

Step 4: The Supervisor reviews the full application and the summary to make their decision.

  • The time it takes the Supervisor to validate your application varies as some cases can be more complex. This could take up to as little as 7 working days but often more. 

Step 5: Supervisor provides their approval or decline, or they may ask for further information.

  • If the Supervisor requires more evidence, then the length of validating your application may vary, depending on when we receive the additional evidence from you.

Step 6: We'll send you a letter to confirm the result of your application and if approved, we make the payment.

  • The payment can take 2-3 working days to process, or longer if overseas.

We're here to help

Any questions?

We'll help with your ASB KiwiSaver Scheme query.

Ask us now

Call us

Speak to a KiwiSaver specialist. 

0800 ASB RETIRE (0800 272 738)

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Visit us at one of our many branches across New Zealand.

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Interests in the ASB KiwiSaver Scheme (Scheme) are issued by ASB Group Investments Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of ASB Bank Limited (ASB). ASB provides Scheme administration and distribution services. No person guarantees interests in the Scheme. Interests in the Scheme are not deposits or other liabilities of ASB. They are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of income and principal invested. For more information see the ASB KiwiSaver Scheme Product Disclosure Statement available from this website and the register of offers of financial products at www.disclose-register.companiesoffice.govt.nz (search for ASB KiwiSaver Scheme).