The scheme's normal retirement age is 60 for most members, except for female members who elected on joining to retire at age 55. In the event of your resignation, retrenchment or invalidity prior to the normal retirement, you are entitled to receive a SSS benefit.
If you resign (or are discharged or dismissed) from employment before your early retirement age, you are entitled to receive a withdrawal benefit. The withdrawal benefit will consist of your total contributions, plus interest and an additional component based on the number of years of contributory service. However, if you elect to receive immediate payment of your withdrawal benefit, you will forfeit any spouse or de facto partner and children's benefits.
Alternatively, you may choose to defer your benefit entitlement in the scheme to be payable at a later date from age 55 (optional deferred benefit). This option provides a greater employer-financed benefit which is payable at the normal or early retirement age.
In the event you are retrenched, a lump sum or pension (retrenchment benefit) is available depending on whether you are eligible for an early retirement or normal retirement benefit. That is, the retrenchment benefit payable will depend on whether you are under or over age 55. A special 'deferred' option is also available to members who are retrenched between age 50 and 55 (subject to your employer's approval).
A full pension is payable if you retire on the grounds of ill health. The invalidity retirement benefit will be payable if the Trustee determines that you can retire from your employment on the grounds of invalidity, or physical or mental incapacity to perform your duties.
If you are eligible to receive an invalidity or retrenchment pension, an option to exchange (commute) your pension will be available at specified times. For more information, refer to Commutation or exchanging your pension for a lump sum.
If you are contributing for retirement at age 60, you may choose to retire with a reduced pension at any time after reaching age 55. Female members contributing for retirement at age 55 cannot elect to retire before that age.
The rate of pension payable on early voluntary retirement is adjusted by the extent to which the service actually given is less than the service you would have given up to age 60.
The pension rates are also reduced to offset a 15% tax payable on your employer's contributions for your benefits.
Pensions are adjusted each year in line with movements in the Consumer Price (All Groups Sydney) Index.
SANCS (basic benefit)
Members of SSS also receive a 3% non-contributory defined superannuation benefit (known as the basic benefit) for all service since 1 April 1988. In addition, eligible members will also be entitled to Additional Employer Contributions (AEC), Commonwealth Government co-contributions or the low income superannuation contributions (LISC). The basic benefit, AEC, co-contributions and LISC are all payable from the State Authorities Non-contributory Superannuation Scheme (SANCS).
Can I exchange my pension for a lump sum?
All or part of your pension can be commuted (exchanged) for a lump sum amount, but the commutation must occur within specified time frames. See Commutation or exchanging your pension for a lump sum.
For additional information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 8: Early voluntary retirement benefit.
A withdrawal benefit is payable if you resign (or are discharged or dismissed) from employment before your early retirement age. The amount payable depends on the length of your continuous membership in SSS.
The withdrawal benefit is a lump sum that consists of the total amount of your personal contributions plus interest applied at the Fund Earning Rate, together with an additional amount that is 2.5% of your contributions and interest for each year of your scheme membership.
Payment of any benefit will be subject to the Commonwealth compulsory preservation rules. See STC Fact Sheet 4: When can I be paid my superannuation benefits?
A lump sum basic benefit and any applicable Additional Employer Contribution (AEC), Commonwealth Government co-contributions and Low Income Superannuation Contribution are also payable if you resign.
Can you defer payment?
Instead of applying for the withdrawal benefit, you may choose to leave your benefit deferred in SSS. In most cases, the value of a deferred benefit is greater than that of the withdrawal benefit. This is because a deferred benefit includes most of the employer-financed component of benefits accrued during your membership. See Optional deferred benefit.
For more information please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 15: Resignation (withdrawal) benefit.
You can apply for an SSS invalidity benefit only if you retire from your employment on the grounds of invalidity or physical or mental incapacity to perform your duties. The Trustee determines whether these grounds exist on the basis of medical advice provided by the NSW Government Medical Assessment Service Provider or other medical advisers nominated by the Trustee.
Generally, the benefit payable is the pension you would have been eligible to receive at the normal retirement age, based on your salary and unit entitlement at the time your employment ceases.
Commonwealth payment rules
If you are under your preservation age (which is between 55 and 60), you can only apply to be paid the compulsorily preserved component of your benefit if you provide certification from two legally qualified medical practitioners. They must certify that you are 'unlikely to ever be employed in a capacity for which you are reasonably qualified because of education, training or experience'.
Your preserved component may include all or part of your basic benefit, Additional Employer Contributions (AEC),Commonwealth Government co-contributions and some of your pension benefit.
If part of your pension must be preserved, you have two options. Your pension can either be:
- immediately received as a non-commutable pension; or
- paid each fortnight into a separate account.
If you are suffering from a terminal illness, then you may be able to apply to have your lump sum benefit paid free of any tax, subject to certain eligibility criteria.
Can an invalidity pension be exchanged for a lump sum?
An option exists for an invalidity pension to be commuted (exchanged) for a lump sum at age 55 and, if that option is not exercised then, again at age 60. See SSS Fact Sheet 14: Exchanging your pension for a lump sum.
For more information please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 9: Invalidity retirement benefit.
A retrenchment benefit is payable if your service with an employer is compulsorily terminated, or you accept an offer of retrenchment. The benefit payable on retrenchment depends on your age and whether you are eligible for retirement:
- If you are aged 55 or over and are eligible for retirement (either early voluntary or normal retirement), the SSS benefit is the retirement benefit payable at the date of retrenchment. It can be taken as a pension or a lump sum, but cannot be deferred.
- If you are not eligible for a retirement benefit at the date of retrenchment, the SSS benefit is a retrenchment benefit. You are entitled to a lump sum benefit calculated according to a formula in the scheme legislation that takes into account the amount of your personal contributions and the period of your scheme membership. Alternatively, you may elect to take your benefit as a pension that the Trustee determines to be equivalent to your rights in SSS.
- If you are aged between 50 and 55, you also have the special option (subject to your employer's approval) to defer your retirement benefit that is payable at age 55. This option has a number of specific payment provisions that must be met otherwise the benefit is revised to the standard deferred benefit. You are required to pay the personal contributions that you would have paid on your units up to age 55. In the event of your death or total and permanent invalidity, the benefit is calculated as a standard deferred benefit.
The standard Commonwealth Government preservation requirements apply, that is your benefit cannot be accessed until you cease employment from age 60 or retire permanently from the workforce after your preservation age (between 55 and 60).
For more information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 16: Retrenchment benefit.
Instead of receiving an immediate withdrawal benefit that is available on resignation, dismissal or discharge, you may choose to leave your entitlement in SSS and receive the benefit later at your normal or early retirement age.
The deferred benefit is generally of greater value than a benefit immediately available as it will include most of the employer-financed benefits accrued during your service.
The deferred option ensures members keep their accrued rights in SSS if they cease working for a scheme employer. Aside from the retirement benefit, these rights also include the entitlement to benefits on invalidity, as well as death benefits payable to an eligible spouse or de facto partner, and to eligible children.
Can you change your mind?
If you do choose to defer your benefit in SSS, you can, at any time opt to receive the immediate lump sum, which is the original withdrawal benefit adjusted for investment earnings at the Fund Earning Rate during the period the benefit was deferred.
Although the benefit is deferred as a pension, when the pension commences it can be commuted (exchanged) to a lump sum in accordance with SSS rules. See SSS Fact Sheet 14: Exchanging your pension for a lump sum.
For more information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 17: Optional deferred benefit.