PSS Member Frequently Asked Questions
Please find below a list of answers to the most common questions I have received during my time providing advice to PSS members. I have also prepared a series of videos around demystifying the PSS which goes into more detail around these issues. These can be accessed here.
Any information on this page is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this page you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, situation and needs.
The Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS) was established under the 1990 Superannuation Act. It was closed to new members from 1 July 2005. It is a defined benefit superannuation scheme primarily for Australian Government employees. It replaced the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) for new employees to the APS.
PSS members can contribute up to 10% of their superannuation salary into their PSS Super account. This will be matched by their employer dependant on length of service (up to 10% for those employed longer than 10 years). The employer also pays an employer component of 8% and a productivity component of 3%. Learn more.
The term ABM stands for Accrued Benefit Multiple. It is one of only two variables that determines final retirement benefit (the second is final average salary – FAS). It is calculated based on the level of a member’s contributions to their super account and their length of service. Learn more.
The term FAS stands for Final Average Salary. It is one of only two variables that determines final retirement benefit (the second is accrued benefit multiple – ABM). It is calculated based on the average of your last three super salaries and is reported on your birthday. Learn more.
For the first 10 years of service with a PSS contributing employer, they will match up to 5% of your personal contributions. After the completion of 10 years of service, the employer will match up to 10% of your personal contributions. Learn more.
Your final retirement benefit is calculated by multiplying your accrued benefit multiple (ABM) by your final average salary (FAS). At this point you have the choice of taking your benefit in a number of different ways including lifetime indexed pension, lump sum or a combination of the two.
Your PSS pension is determined by dividing your final retirement benefit into a factor based on your age. At age 55, this factor is 12, at age 60 it is 11 and at age 65 it is 10. For more comprehensive assistance with calculating your PSS pension, I offer a PSS Pension Estimate service. Learn more.
PSS super is not constrained by the same preservation rules as other superannuation funds. A member is able to access their PSS pension on retirement from age 55 regardless of their preservation age. Lump sums above your SIS upper limit are not accessible until your preservation age.
Unlike normal super funds PSS members may be able to access their super from age 55 depending on a range of variables. There is also a unique treatment of PSS in the case of redundancy which requires specialist advice.
When a contributing PSS member is offered a redundancy your HR department will need to request a specific redundancy benefit estimate which is calculated slightly differently to a normal benefit estimate with regard to the FAS calculation. Another difference with PSS is that a redundancy will trigger options that are not available through other super funds when under age 55..
Any PSS taken as a pension will be assessed under the income stream (and not the assets test) while any PSS taken as a lump sum is assessed as an asset and also deemed. This means there are opportunities to enhance any Centrelink benefits available to you.
You are able to rejoin PSS, but if this is something you are considering it’s critical to seek advice around your PSS super. By rejoining, your starting salary will affect factors including your accrued benefit multiple (ABM) and therefore your projected retirement benefit.
You can return to the workforce, but it’s critical to seek advice if you are considering returning after accessing your PSS super. There are various issues that will need investigation and advice.
PSS pensions are usually made up of three components: all having different tax treatments at various ages. The untaxed component of your PSS pension will be taxable for the life of the pension. Tax rebates apply at various ages and are dependant on the size of the pension.
PSS members should be extremely cautious about rolling over their benefit into a different fund and should first seek out expert advice from a PSS specialist. The PSS has unique inbuilt strengths and benefits that would all be lost on rollover.