In the event of the death of a scheme contributory member, the member's spouse or representative should contact the administrator, Mercer on 1300 130 096.

Once Mercer is notified of the death of a contributory member, Mercer issues a letter to the spouse or representative that outlines the documents required to assess a spouse or de facto partner's eligibility.

Pension benefits are payable to an eligible spouse or de facto partner of a deceased contributor of SSS. The benefit payable will be determined in respect of whether the deceased member passes away prior to their normal retirement age (see Death of a scheme member before retirement) or after, that is the deceased member was receiving a scheme pension (see Death of a scheme member after retirement).

The scheme's normal retirement age is 60 for most members, except for female members who elected on joining to retire at age 55.

It is important to remember that a pension benefit will not be payable to the spouse or de facto partner of a former member who elected to be paid:

  • a lump sum retrenchment benefit
  • a lump sum withdrawal or resignation benefit

In these cases, the former member forfeited the right to have a reversionary benefit payable to their spouse or partner in the event of their death.

Who is an eligible spouse or de facto partner for pension benefit purposes?

An eligible spouse or de factor partner is:

  • the widow or widower of the deceased, or
  • a person (whether of the same or a different gender)  in a registered relationship or interstate registered relationship with the deceased within the meaning of the Relationship Register Act 2010, or
  • a person (whether of the same or a different gender) who was in a de facto relationship, within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1987.

Where claims are made by more than one person, the Trustee will decide the appropriate distribution of benefits.

Commuting or exchanging a spouse pension

In the case of an eligible spouse who survives a member, an option to exchange (commute) all or part of a spouse pension entitlement to a lump sum is available at specific timeframes.

A spouse pension member can only ever make one application to commute their pension.

Payment of pension to children or legal personal representatives

In certain circumstances, a pension may also be payable to eligible children of a deceased contributor or pension member. See Child pensions or refer to SSS Fact Sheet 12: Child pensions.

Where a spouse or de factor partner or child benefit is not payable, the legal personal representative of the deceased member may apply for a lump sum benefit that is payable from the scheme.

Minimum benefit value

After all benefit payments have been made, including (if applicable) payments to a spouse or partner and children, those payments (including both commutation and pension payments) are measured against the member's lump sum withdrawal benefit at retirement.  If the sum of those payments is less than the withdrawal benefit, the balance is paid to the deceased member's personal representative.

A pension benefit from SSS is payable to an eligible spouse or de facto partner of a deceased contributory member. The pension is equal to two-thirds of the pension the deceased member would have received on normal retirement, based on the salary and unit entitlement at the date of death.

The reversionary pension is payable from the day after the death of the SSS member and will not commence until the assessment process has been finalised and all relevant paperwork has been submitted.

The lump sum SANCS benefit is also payable in these circumstances. This benefit is made up of the basic benefit and, if applicable, Additional Employer Contributions (AEC), Commonwealth Government co-contributions and Low Income Superannuation Contributions (LISC).

Reversionary pensions are adjusted annually in line with movements in the Consumer Price (All Groups Sydney) Index. A phasing-in formula applies in the first year after a pension begins.

Reversionary benefits and commutations

Under the scheme rules, a reversionary pension entitlement is payable regardless of whether the member commuted (exchanged for a lump sum) all or part of their pension. Similarly, the surviving spouse or partner's right to commute their pension to a lump sum is unaffected by any lump sum payment taken by their deceased spouse or partner.

The option to commute (or exchange) a spouse pension for a lump sum benefit is available at specified times (see Commuting or exchanging a pension for a lump sum).

Who is an eligible spouse or de facto partner for reversionary benefit purposes?

An eligible spouse or de factor partner is:

  • the widow or widower of the deceased, or
  • a person (whether of the same or a different gender)  in a registered relationship or interstate registered relationship with the deceased within the meaning of the Relationship Register Act 2010, or
  • a person (whether of the same or a different gender) who was in a de facto relationship, within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1987.

In certain circumstances, a pension may also be payable to eligible children of a deceased contributor and for children of an eligible spouse or de facto partner. For further information, see SSS Fact Sheet 12: Child pensions.

If there are no surviving spouse, de facto partner or children, a lump sum withdrawal benefit will be paid to the personal representative of the deceased's estate.

For additional information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 10: Death of a scheme member before retirement.

A pension benefit from SSS is payable to an eligible spouse or de facto partner of a member who dies after retirement while on a scheme pension. Generally the pension is equal to two-thirds of the pension member's full pension entitlement at retirement plus CPI adjustments until the date of death.

Generally, a spouse or de facto partner of a deceased pension member will qualify for a benefit if they were the pension member's spouse or de facto partner before the deceased pension member retired, and remained so until the pension member's death. In the case of an invalidity pension member, the applicant will qualify if they were the spouse or de facto partner before the pension member reached their normal retirement age and at least three years before the pension member's death.

If the relationship commenced after the deceased pension member retired, a spouse or de facto partner of a deceased pension member will qualify for a benefit only if there is a child of the relationship who was dependent on the deceased pension member.

Where the deceased was an invalidity pension member, the spouse or de facto partner will qualify for a benefit if they were in a relationship before the pension member reached their normal retirement age and for at least three years before the pension member's death.

For more detailed information about eligibility, see the section 'Who is eligible for the spouse or de facto partner's benefit' in SSS Fact Sheet 11: Death of a scheme member after retirement.

Child pensions

In certain circumstances, a pension may also be payable to eligible children of a deceased pension member. Please see Child Pensions or refer to SSS Fact Sheet 12: Child pensions.

Reversionary benefits and commutations

Under the scheme rules, a reversionary pension entitlement is payable regardless of whether the pension member commuted (exchanged for a lump sum) all or part of their pension. Similarly, the surviving spouse or partner's right to commute their pension to a lump sum is also unaffected by any lump sum payment taken by their deceased spouse or partner.

The option to commute (or exchange) a spouse pension to a lump sum benefit is available at specified times (see Commuting or exchanging a pension for a lump sum). Pensions are adjusted annually in line with movements in the Consumer Price (All Groups Sydney) Index.

For additional information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 11: Death of a scheme member after retirement.

While SSS is basically a pension scheme, in the case of an eligible spouse who survives a member, an option to exchange (commute) all or part of a pension entitlement to a lump sum is available at specific timeframes.

A spouse pension member can only ever make one application to commute their pension.

Pensions that commence before the spouse reaches age 55

If the spouse pension member had not reached age 55 at the time of death of the member, or pension member, an application to exchange some or all of a pension for a lump sum:

a) must be made within six months immediately before or after the spouse's 55th birthday, or

b) if an application is not made during the time period referred to in a), a spouse pension member will have a second chance to apply in the six months immediately before or after their 60th birthday.

Unless a specific (later) payment date is nominated, the lump sum is payable on the spouse member's 55th or 60th birthday.

If an application is made in the six months after the spouse reaches age 55 or 60, the lump sum is payable on the day the scheme administrator receives the completed application.

Pensions that commence on or after age 55

If the spouse pension member was aged between 55 and 60 when the pension commenced, an application to exchange some or all of a pension for a lump sum

a)    must be made within six months of the date of death of the member or pension member.

or

b)    if an application is not made during the time period referred to in a), a spouse pension member will have a second chance to apply in the six months immediately before or after their 60th birthday.

Pensions that commence on or after age 60

If the spouse pension member had reached age 60 at the time of death of the member, or pension member, an application to exchange some or all of a pension for a lump sum must be made within 6 months of the date of death of the member or pension member.

For more information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 14: Exchanging your pension for a lump sum.

Reversionary benefits and commutations

If you decide to exchange all or part of your pension for a lump sum, the spouse or de facto pension entitlement is not affected.

Under the scheme rules, a reversionary beneficiary is entitled to a pension at the rate of two-thirds of the pension the deceased member would have been receiving at the time of their death. The pension entitlement is payable regardless of whether the member commuted their pension.

Note: A child or student pension entitlement cannot generally be exchanged for a lump sum.

How much of the spouse pension can be exchanged for a lump sum?

In most cases, all of the pension that is payable to an eligible spouse or de facto partner can be exchanged for a lump sum, provided that the application to exchange the pension for a lump sum is made within the specified time.

A pension member can, however, nominate a specific amount of pension that he/she wishes to exchange and receive the remaining amount as a pension.

If pension payments continue to be paid after the date an application to commute or exchange is due to be paid, a reversionary pension may become overpaid. Any overpaid pension will be deducted from the lump sum amount payable.

For more information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 14: Exchanging your pension for a lump sum.

On the death of an SSS contributor, benefits are payable to eligible children. An eligible child is a child of the deceased member or member's spouse or de facto partner who is under age 18 or, where the child is enrolled in full-time study with an approved educational institution, between the ages of 18 and 25.

The benefit paid for each child is generally a fortnightly pension which is payable to the surviving parent or guardian of the child.

Benefits payable where deceased is not survived by an eligible spouse

On the death of a contributor who is not survived by an eligible spouse but is survived by an eligible child, the benefit payable is either:

  • a lump sum equal to the deceased's withdrawal benefit from the scheme, or
  • a refund of the deceased's personal contributions paid to SSS plus a fortnightly pension for each eligible child.

These benefits are paid to the legal personal representative of the deceased SSS member.

Child pensions include annual cost-of-living adjustments, based on movements in the Consumer Price (All Groups Sydney) Index. For more information, please refer to SSS Fact Sheet 12: Child pensions.