SSS members and early retirement
June 6, 2000
Further to the Union’s notice of 19 May 2000 which discussed, in part, retirement benefits for those members of the “old” State Super Scheme (SSS), the following advice may now assist SSS members contemplating early voluntary retirement.
NOTE: We can confirm that this issue does not affect members who are medically retired – invalidity retirements are effectively treated the same as those at age 60.
Early Voluntary Retirement
The final unit calculation for members who voluntarily retired early and who did not have at least 15 years’ membership in SSS did not include any units which they did not hold for the immediately-preceding 2.5 years. However, because membership of the “old” scheme was closed on 1 July 1985, it is virtually certain that this issue will no longer affect any SSS member after 1 July 2000.
Voluntary early age retirement does have a built-in disincentive in the form of a reduced value pension for each super unit. For example, a member who retires at age 55 will only gain a benefit of between $3.27 and $3.55 per fortnight for each unit instead of the $5.50 per unit they would receive upon retirement at age 60.
In any case, it is vital that members considering early age retirement seek the advice of either the Superannuation Administration Corporation advisory service on 1300 130 096, or a professional financial/superannuation adviser. Fact Sheets on SSS benefits, including early voluntary retirement, are available on the web at http://www.statesuper.nsw.gov.au
Additional Super Units from Rostered Overtime component
Senior Firefighter members prior to the new 2000 Award had a superable salary of only $40,412.25 p.a. because Rostered Overtime was excluded from the calculation. This generally gave Senior Firefighters on the old scheme an entitlement to approximately 174 units.
Following the inclusion of Rostered Overtime as superable salary in our new Award and the first 3% increase, Senior Firefighters now have a superable salary of $45,732.37 p.a. which provides for an entitlement under the old scheme of approximately 194 units. Senior Firefighter members will therefore gain an additional 20 super units through the inclusion of the Rostered Overtime component that was not previously included in their superable salary.
Provided these additional units have been fully funded by members prior to retirement at age 60, a Senior Firefighter member’s pension will generally be increased by $110 (20 units x $5.50) per fortnight on current wage rates, or even more depending on the member’s final salary at age 60 (remembering that wages will increase by at least a further 14% between now and February 2003).
Some members, particularly those 55 or older, have expressed concerns that they will have to pay much higher contributions in order to fully fund these additional units. It is true that members wishing to fully fund the new units will have to pay more in contributions the older they are, but only because they have less time available for them to do so versus younger members who have the ability to spread these additional contributions out over a longer employment period. However, there are special provisions for members over the age of 55 to make contributions for these units through an extended instalment plan. For more details on how this works, members should contact the SAC advisory service directly.
At any rate, no member will be worse off with the inclusion of these extra units. Even those members who elect to abandon these extra units will still receive an additional benefit of $3.30 per unit per fortnight (being the reduced value of units coming from the employer-only contributions) upon their retirement at age 60. Again, this still results in an additional $66 per fortnight to a Senior Firefighter member’s pension without that member necessarily paying any more than the required 6% contribution. Any way you look at it, all members are well in front.
Superannuation is, at best, a complex issue. The technicalities of superannuation legislation combined with the different circumstances of each individual member mean that members should always consult the SAC advisory service and/or a professional financial/superannuation consultant prior to making decisions relating to retirement and/or significant alterations to contribution levels.
The Superannuation Administration Corporation advisory service can be contacted on 1300 130 096. Personal Interviews are available to members between the hours of 9 am and 4.30 pm weekdays at Level 18, 83 Clarence Street, Sydney. Bookings, whilst not required, are advisable and can be made by calling 9238-5540.
Further information on the old super scheme can be found at http://www.statesuper.nsw.gov.au/
Members of SASS will also find information about their scheme at this address. Members of First State Super will need to go to http://www.firststatesuper.nsw.gov.au/
The Advisory Service number for SASS members is 1300 130 095, and for FSS members is 1300 650 873.
Tuesday 6th June 2000