How can I use my Kiwisaver?

By Josie Houston

There are multiple ways you can utilise your Kiwisaver funds. While most people think they are used just for a first home purchase or retirement, there are a few other instances where they can be put to good use.

Buying your first home

As most people are already aware, you can use your Kiwisaver funds to go toward your first home purchase. You must have been contributing to your Kiwisaver for at least three years to be eligible to use it. You can use it to buy a house, buy land to build a house on or buy into a house with someone who already owns it.

When you turn 65

Once you turn 65, you can opt out of the ‘lock in’ period by making a retirement withdrawal. By doing this, it means that you will no longer be able to get any government contributions toward your Kiwisaver – and if you are still employed, your employer can opt to stop their contributions.

You don't have to withdraw your savings as soon as you turn 65 - you can keep them in there for as long as you want, to have them continue to work for you until you need them.

Moving overseas

Depending on the country and the circumstances, you may be able to take your Kiwisaver savings with you.

If you are moving to Australia, you may be able to transfer your Kiwisaver savings to an Australian complying superannuation scheme. Not all Australian providers accept New Zealand Kiwisaver transfers – you will need to get in contact with the Australian provider to confirm whether they do.

If you are moving to any other country, you can apply to have your Kiwisaver funds withdrawn once you have been out of New Zealand for one year. You need to fill in forms provided by your Kiwisaver providers, and provide evidence that you have permanently left New Zealand and are living overseas and are not planning on coming back to live. Any government contributions you received from the government will be returned to them.

Relationship breakdown

If you have been living with your de facto partner for three years or more, and did not have a Contracting Out Agreement (or Prenuptial Agreement), and then you were to separate, your partner is entitled to half of your Kiwisaver contributions that you contributed during the time you were together. Queen City Law can assist you in drafting a Contracting Out Agreement.

You are experiencing financial hardship

You can apply for an early withdrawal if you cant meet essential living expenses such as paying your power and water bills, or being able to provide food for yourself or your family.

You can also apply if you cant meet rent, board or mortgage repayments. Or, if your home needs special modifications for yourself or a family member who is disabled.

The amount you can withdraw is a case-by-case basis and is based on covering your minimum living expenses for three months and an amount to pay overdue bills or arrears. If by the end of this period, you are still in financial hardship, you can reapply to withdraw more.

Kiwisaver providers do not make this an easy process – you will need to fill out multiple forms, and provide evidence of your financial hardship, as well as providing information about any other household members who can financially contribute.   

You have a serious illness

If you have a serious illness, injury or disability that means you are permanently unable to work at a job that you are suited to (e.g. because of your education, training or experience) or you are at risk of dying very soon, or have a life-shortening congenial condition, then you can apply to have an early Kiwisaver withdrawal.

Your registered medical practitioner with need to make a declaration, and you will need to make a statutory declaration as well as fill in forms provided by your Kiwisaver provider.

If you require assistance regarding using your Kiwisaver toward your first home purchase, please get in contact with the property team at Queen City Law: property@qcl.co.nz

Disclaimer:
We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and it should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should always be sought before any decision or action is taken.