The number of people seeking to raid their retirement nest egg to help them get through the deep economic downturn is climbing.
More than 1.3 million have applied for early access to their superannuation under the emergency scheme set up by the government, potentially wiping $10 billion off accumulated retirement savings.
More than 662,000 applied for relief in the scheme's first week of operation, beginning April 20, and that number climbed to more than one million by the end of the second week before reaching 1.344 million on May 10.
According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, by the end of the scheme's third week, $9 billion had been paid out by 177 funds to 1.19 million people, with $1 billion of payments to a further 150,000 people pending.
The financial watchdog said the average payout was $7546 and reported that 94 per cent of claims were processed within five business days.
The rush to access super savings has coincided with a plunge in employment as businesses have been forced to close or reduce hours as a result of restrictions to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Employment plunged by 594,300 positions in April and total hours worked fell 9.2 per cent.
In all, 2.7 million people were without work or on reduced hours.
More than 800,000 businesses employing six million workers have applied to join the government's $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.
Hundreds of thousands have also applied for assistance under the JobSeeker program.
But the enormous demand for early access to superannuation has underlined concerns that much government assistance is inadequate or not reaching many in need, forcing them to raid their savings.
FutureSuper co-founder Kristin Hunter claim the government is forcing people to "pinch their own savings to fund their way through a public health crisis".
"It is asking people to choose between putting food on the table or having a comfortable retirement in the future," Ms Hunter said.