Vested benefits are those benefits to which the member is currently entitled irrespective of the member’s continued membership of the SMSF, on-going employment with a particular employer or maintenance of other conditions. Although vested benefits are an unconditional benefit of the member within the SMSF, those benefits can be accessed only upon satisfying an appropriate condition of release, such as retirement, death, rollover, reaching age 65 or reaching preservation age and accessing a transition to retirement income stream (TRIS). Usually vested benefits are disclosed in the notes to the financial report.
Vested benefits equate to the minimum benefits of the SMSF’s members. Minimum benefits include member concessional and non-concessional contributions (NCCs), mandated contributions (compulsory employer contributions) such as SGC or superannuation payments made pursuant to an Award or other employment agreement, amounts rolled over or transferred in as minimum benefits and the earnings thereon. Minimum benefits must be maintained in the SMSF until they are cashed, rolled over or transferred in accordance with the SISA and SISR benefit payment rules.
Audit procedures to test for vesting of minimum benefits include examining the fund’s governing rules to ensure that the governing rules fully vest the contributions in the member and testing member and employer contributions for the period for inclusion in members’ accounts. In addition, the auditor reviews any transfers to reserves to ensure that the minimum benefits are not being reduced.
Preservation age is the age at which superannuation benefits may be able to be accessed. Preservation age will rise from 55 to 60 between 2015 and 2024. This will mean that for someone born before 1 July 1960, their preservation age is 55 years, while for someone born after 30 June 1964, their preservation age will be 60.
More information about transition to retirement is available on the ATO website www.ato.gov.au (search under transition to retirement).
Other conditions of release include a terminal medical condition, financial hardship and compassionate grounds.
See regulation 5.08 of the SISR.