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Make the most of your SASS scheme benefits

You’ll get some key information that will help you feel confident about your retirement and answer some important questions, like:

  • Should I pay off my mortgage early?
  • Will I have enough money to live on?
  • How can I maximise my scheme benefit?
  • When is the right time to retire?
  • How can I manage my money in retirement?


Step 1: Plan to succeed

This is your first step towards creating the retirement you really want

A plan for your retirement is a great step toward your life after work and will help you make decisions that will benefit you in the long run.

In this step, you'll learn about:

  • Why paying off your mortgage early may not be the right decision for you.
  • How your money mindset might influence your financial decisions.
  • How a SASS member got smart about retirement.

Paying off your mortgage versus making extra contributions to your SASS

For most people, paying off their mortgage as fast as possible is very sensible. However, for members of a defined benefit scheme such as SASS, it might make better financial sense, depending on your circumstances, to maximise your scheme benefits by making additional contributions.

In turn, this could increase your employer-financed benefit.
This is because the potential benefits from your scheme could be greater than the interest savings you could achieve by reducing your mortgage. But of course, this does depend on your personal circumstances.

Maximising your benefit entitlement can also have a financial benefit for you and your family if you are retrenched, suffer a total and permanent disability event, or die. Working closely with a financial planner can help you make the right decision for you.

How Caroline found peace of mind about her financial future

In this video, Aware Super client Caroline shares how she turned her fear about not having enough money in retirement, into a plan.

Speaker 1 [00:00:04] The job has changed just so much. It's so constant. There is always something to do. Always something on the go. You never really switch off from it, even on holidays. So I'm looking forward to the next phase to retire, to not have to worry about emails all the time, not have to worry about the constant work, and and just do things that I want to do for a change. I went to a seminar in May, and the planner went through all the very complicated statements that we get that I honestly didn't understand. And my main concern was that I wouldn't have enough money to retire. I want to still keep the lifestyle I'm accustomed to. They went through all of that. We put another package in place and hopefully that everything will pan out really beautifully and I'll have enough money to do the things I want to do with my retirement. My boyfriend is retiring, hopefully next year. We both want to travel, we want to go to Europe.  I'd love to do the Scandinavian countries and I'd really like to do some charity work. So salary sacrificing is the road that I'm going to head down now so that I won't be in quite a higher tax bracket, and it'll also be putting some more into another super package. That was really great. They took the time to explain all of those to project the the possible return on them and put a package together, so it's great. My planner has been wonderful. He's very approachable. Very friendly. He's got a really great understanding, I think, of me, and he's only met me once or twice, but very patient. Lot of time to go through things and to explain the details. And it can be very complicated and certainly very daunting. I found the, the, the lead up to this and for the retirement process quite daunting, the fear that you're not going to have enough money to do what you want to do. He was able to alleviate that. 

Understand your money mindset

This fun quiz is designed to get you thinking about how your mindset might be helping or hindering your retirement goals.

Download the quiz

Step 2: Build your benefit

You may have the option to increase your SASS contributions

Getting clear on how the SASS rules work, and the choices you have is a great way to feel more in control of your money. 

In this step, you'll learn about:

  • Why you could be missing out on SASS benefits.
  • Clever strategies to maximise your SASS benefit.
  • How your contribution rate can impact your retirement.

Maximising your accrued benefit points will optimise your final SASS benefit

As a member of SASS, you can take steps to maximise your benefit.

You can do this by increasing the employer-financed benefit and the personal contributions you make.

Before diving into the detail, here is an overview of the core SASS benefits.

Your contributor-financed benefit (Personal Account)

This benefit is made up of your personal contributions and investment earnings, less fees.

Your employer-financed benefit 

This is the net benefit you receive and could be up to 4 times your final average salary on retirement.

Your basic benefit
This net benefit is about 2.55% p.a. (after tax) of your final average salary for service from 1 April 1988

Contributions from your salary

You can contribute between 1% and 9% of your salary to your SASS account. Each 1% of personal contribution gives you to 1 accrued benefit point.

You can accrue a maximum average of 6 accrued benefit points per year (up to 180 accrued points in total).

For each accrued benefit point (up to the maximum), you will also receive an employer- financed contribution of around 2.125% of your final average salary (or 2.55% if you are from a particular predecessor scheme). If you haven’t maximised your accrued benefit points, you may still be able to catch up.

If you choose to contribute more than the maximum average of 6% per year, the excess will still be added to your personal account. It will be invested in line with your selected investment strategy. In simple terms, increasing your contributions gives you the ability to increase the benefits you receive when you exit your scheme.

To find out more about making the most of your SASS scheme, you can find a free SASS seminar.

3 strategies to maximise your SASS benefit

Learn what you can do to maximise your SASS benefit and get one step closer to your ideal retirement. We explain how in this short video.1

Speaker 1 [00:00:06] Maximizing your SASS benefit is a great way to ensure that you have financial security once you retire. The more you contribute up to 9% of your super pool salary, the more you'll get. Once you exit. SASS members often underestimate the impact of their ongoing contributions have on their final benefit, when in fact a little goes a long way. There are several ways you can maximize your SASS benefit. Here are three strategies.

[00:00:41] The first strategy is salary sacrificing. This is the most common strategy of the three, but it's often misunderstood. It's a great way to reduce the amount of tax you pay on your tax contributions. How it works is you can choose to pay a 15% tax on your assessed contributions, instead of paying tax that you would normally pay with your employer, which could be around 39%.

[00:01:09] The second strategy is catching up on your points. If you've fallen behind on your stash points, there are ways you can catch up. To maximize your employer's contribution. Ideally, you can contribute an average of 6% per year over the lifetime of your membership. If you've been contributing less than 6% over your membership, you can still catch up with those points. If you increase your contributions to 9%, you'll pick up the six points on offer as well as the three you've left behind.

[00:01:42] The third strategy is maximizing your final average salary. Your employees contributions are based on your final average salary. They take the salary at exit. They look back at 31st December and the year prior, and they average those three salaries. That salary will determine what your employer will contribute to your benefit. Your super full salary includes your base salary. It includes some allowances and it also includes a shift loading for shift workers. The right strategy for you depends on your individual circumstances and your retirement goals. Ultimately, the more you contribute to SS and the higher your final average salary, the more you'll get out of your SASS benefits. Increasing your personal contributions is likely to have the potential to increase the benefit you receive and improve your quality of retirement. Before you make any decisions about your SASS contributions.

[00:02:34] It's a good idea to seek professional advice from an expert, and a super financial planner can assess your personal circumstances and help decide what's right for you in the long term. To book an obligation free appointment, call us on 1800 620 305.

1 Financial advice services are provided by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited (ABN 86 003 742 756, AFSL 238430), wholly owned by Aware Super.

SASS Shortcuts

The actions you take today can make a big difference to your retirement lifestyle. Whether you have 5 minutes, 20 minutes or more, here’s some steps you can take towards planning for your ideal retirement.

How your contribution rate can impact your retirement

Your final SASS benefit can have a big impact on your retirement lifestyle.

See how your employer-financed benefit portion of your SASS benefit increases, as you increase the level of your personal contributions.

You might be surprised at the difference you can make.

Use the SASS calculator

Step 3: How much is enough?

Feel confident about your financial future

Decisions you make now about your SASS scheme can help you feel more confident about the future.

In this step, you'll learn about:

  • How the decisions you make about your SASS scheme can impact your future.
  • Where your retirement income will come from.
  • How to clarify your vision for retirement.

Decisions you make about your SASS scheme now can make a difference later on

Longer life expectancies mean that many Australians can look forward to potentially spending 20+ years in retirement. With Australians living for longer it is more important than ever to make sure your savings will go the distance.

When you maximise your SASS benefit, it means you’ll retire with more money. In turn, you can fund your retirement for longer.

The investment option you choose for your SASS scheme can make a big difference to your final benefit amount. But it’s a decision that many SASS members don’t realise they need to make.

In Step 2, the core SASS benefits outlined were:

  • the contributor-financed benefit (Personal Account)
  • your employer-financed benefit
  • your basic benefit.

Your employer-financed benefit and SANCS lump sum basic benefit is the defined benefit part of your scheme benefit.

A unique points formula calculates this defined benefit. While you’re contributing to SASS, these parts of your benefit are not affected by market conditions.

On the other hand, the accumulation side of your benefit (known as your personal account) is invested in the market.

As a result, the final value of this benefit will be impacted by market returns.

This is different for deferred members. If you have deferred your SASS benefit, then all of your money is invested and subject to market returns.

The scheme provides you with a number of investment options for your personal account. If you’re a deferred member, this is your personal account and employer-financed benefit.

You can select one or a combination of the following options:

  • Growth
  • Balanced
  • Conservative
  • Cash.

Your default investment option

If you don’t make an investment choice, your money will be invested in the Growth option.

Your default investment option when you defer your benefit

If you don’t choose an investment option when you defer your benefit, your money will be invested in the Growth option. When you turn 60, your money will be automatically switched to the Balanced option.

You do not get an investment choice for the SANCS portion of your benefit. This is invested in the trustee selection.

The option that’s best for you will depend on several factors.

Some of the factors you might think about include:

  • the amount of risk you’re comfortable with
  • the level of returns you’re looking for
  • how long your money will be invested for.

It’s important to regularly review your investment option to make sure it’s suitable for your stage of life.

This information is general information and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making any decisions based on this information you should consider its appropriateness to you. We strongly recommend that you consult a financial planner before taking action based on this information. Further information and disclosures can be found in our Financial Services Guide.

Issued by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited ABN 86 003 742 756, AFSL No. 238430. Aware Financial Services Australia Limited is wholly owned by Aware Super ABN 53 226 460 365. The trustee of Aware Super is Aware Super Pty Ltd ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340.

Where will your retirement income come from?

One of our SASS experts explains how different allocation of funds can produce an income stream to fund your ideal retirement lifestyle.

Speaker 1 [00:00:05] When people come to see me, by far the biggest concern they have is will my money last? That's because most people overlook the sources of income available to them in retirement. Getting clear on what income you need in retirement and where that income will come from, is key to achieving peace of mind.

[00:00:27] When it comes to your retirement income, there's four key areas. Your superannuation. The age pension. Income from investments and drawing down on capital. The make up of that income very much depends on your circumstances. The key is making sure your income works as hard as possible for you. Let's look at each of these areas.

[00:00:53] As a SASS member, your scheme provides good prospects for a comfortable retirement. Ideally, you should look to maximize your 180 accrued benefit points. There are a number of ways you can do this. It all depends on your circumstances. Secondly, you may qualify for part or full age pension from the government. How much you'll get depends on your sources of income as well as your assets. If you don't qualify for an age pension, you may still be able to access a health care card and the benefits that come with it.

[00:01:33] Thirdly, you might have income from investments. This could include rent from investment properties, dividends from shares, and interest on deposits. Bear in mind the income you receive from investments is likely to fluctuate. You can also access income through capital drawdown. Capital drawdown is having access to that large amount of money, for example, you could sell your investment property or you could sell some shares. You could also access large amounts of money from your superannuation. Capital drawdown can be used to fund one-off capital expenditures, such as medical emergencies. Bear in mind the less you dip into your money now, the more you'll have for the future. As always, the right strategy for you depends on your individual circumstances.

[00:02:25] Getting financial advice that's tailored to your circumstances is best to ensure you make decisions that are right for you.

Financial advice services are provided by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited (ABN 86 003 742 756, AFSL 238430), wholly owned by Aware Super.

How to clarify your vision

Before calculating how much money you’ll need to live a comfortable retirement, it’s helpful to get clear on what retirement will look like for you.

You’ll then have a starting point to work out if you’ll be able to fund your desired lifestyle or if you need to take action to change your financial situation. Use our practical worksheet to unlock your vision.

Download the worksheet

Step 4: The right time to retire

Getting the timing and strategy right can help you maximise your SASS benefit and set you up for a better retirement

You may want to road test retirement by gradually stopping work, or you may feel ready to retire as soon as possible. Whatever your plans, it’s a good idea to understand how your retirement date can impact your SASS benefit.

In this step, you'll learn about:

  • What factors can determine your right time to retire. 
  • The secret to a happy retirement - plan a smooth transition into retirement.
  • Whether you’re emotionally ready to retire.

The average retirement age of SASS members is 63, but this may not be right for you

“When should I retire?” is one of the most common questions SASS members ask us. When making such a big decision, there’s always a lot to consider – what works for another SASS member, might not work for you. Before deciding when to retire, it’s important to consider the factors that can determine the right time for you. These factors could be both financial and non-financial.

If you decide to ease into retirement, there are strategies available to help you gradually make the transition. A retirement transition strategy could provide you with an opportunity to explore new hobbies. It could help you start planning what you might like to do when you’re fully retired.

Ask yourself:

  • How much longer do I need (or want) to work?
  • Should I work part-time?
  • How will leaving work affect my end benefit?
  • Should I reduce my hours or shift work?
  • Should I take my long service leave?

Be mindful that the decisions you make around your employment can could have a big impact on your final benefit. By understanding this impact alongside your retirement goals, you’re in a better position to make decisions that are right for you.

Planning a smooth transition into retirement is a balancing act. It balances maximising your SASS benefit while making sure you retire at a time that’s right for you.

The secret to a happy retirement

Stepping into a new phase of life can feel daunting. One of our SASS experts shares some tips on how to adjust to life in retirement.

Speaker 1 [00:00:05] When it comes to retirement planning, there's a lot more to it than just money. In fact, one of the first pieces of advice I give clients is to get clear on what retirement looks like for them. Over the years, I've seen what really makes a difference to how happy someone is in retirement. Here are some tips to help you.

[00:00:28] My first tip is to explore new hobbies. Hobbies are a great way to stay engaged, keep active, and learn new skills. To find out what's happening in your local area, you can jump online or check out your local newspaper.

[00:00:46] My second tip is to surround yourself with loved ones. As a human being, we crave interaction. Staying connected to those around us is essential to remaining happy and healthy. Things like reconnecting with friends and visiting family are great ways to do this.

[00:01:07] My next tip is to keep learning. If you've ever been interested in an area of study, retirement could be the time to pursue it. Undertaking study can bring new meaning and purpose. Thanks to online technology, there's plenty of options no matter where you live.

[00:01:21] Two good places to start are your local TAFE and Adult Learning Australia.

[00:01:31] My final tip is to assess where you want to live and ensure it's right for you in the long term. Your formula for a happy retirement very much depends on what you'd like to do. It's not easy and there's a lot of factors to think about. Talking to an expert can help you think about the things you may have missed.

Financial advice services are provided by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited (ABN 86 003 742 756, AFSL 238430), wholly owned by Aware Super.

Are you emotionally ready to retire?

If you’re thinking about retiring soon, now’s the time to get prepared. The first step is to understand whether you’re emotionally ready to retire – and if not, what steps you can take to get there.

Take the quiz

Step 5: Safeguard your retirement savings

Informed choices about your investment strategy can give you the freedom to relax

In this step, you'll learn about:

  • Why timing is everything when investing for retirement
  • What you need to consider before making your decisions
  • A simple investment framework to get started.

In retirement, your money won’t be protected from the ups and downs of investment markets

As a contributing SASS member, a large part of your benefit is based on a formula, so the majority of your money has been protected from market risk. If you’re a deferred member, you will already have exposure to market risk in your SASS deferred account.

When you retire, you’ll be responsible for the full amount and will need to decide how to invest your super. It's your responsibility to give yourself the best chance of having enough income for the rest of your life.

In retirement, getting your investment strategy and timing right is crucial. The years just before and after your retirement are known as the “retirement risk zone.” Investing decisions are really important during this time. It's when your super at its peak in value.

If some (or all) of your super is invested in assets that are linked to market performance, a downturn in the markets could expose you to a significant fall in value.

So if, for example, you make a withdrawal during a market slump, it may lock in losses, leaving you with less money invested to earn an income from.

Informed choices about your investment strategy can make a big difference to your retirement. It’s a good idea to seek professional advice from an expert.

Make your money last

As a SASS member, the investment decisions you make could have a big impact on how hard your money works in retirement. Before you make any decisions, there are a number of things to consider when investing for retirement. One of our SASS experts1 explains.

Speaker 1 [00:00:05] A lot of SASS members think once they've retired, the hard work is done, when in fact retirement is when you need to be really vigilant about your money. That's because significant volatility can be devastating as you approach retirement. So how can you protect yourself whilst taking the highest possible return from your investments? Here's four things to consider.

[00:00:30] The first thing to consider is sequencing risk. Essentially, sequencing risk is a strategy for managing risk. The first few years of retirement is very important to assess. Remember, you could be moving your entire capital into the markets for the first time. It's important to separate out the first few years of spending. That money would normally be conservatively invested, because you cannot afford any losses on that money. You need it to fund your day to day living. Separate out your first few years of spending and invest it conservatively. Sequencing risk is quite complex, so it's important to seek expert advice.

[00:01:09] The second thing to consider is longevity risk. Put simply, longevity risk is the risk of outliving your money. It's possibly the biggest risk faced by retirees and one that causes a lot of sleepless nights. Striking the right balance between risk and reward is key to achieving financial security and your peace of mind. The third thing to consider is cash flow versus lump sum spending. How do you plan to spend your money and when you choose to access it could change the nature of your investment strategy. Identifying both your short and long term needs is an important step in understanding what strategy is right for you.

[00:01:55] The fourth thing to consider is your appetite for risk. Your appetite for risk is a level of risk you're prepared to take to achieve higher returns. One way I help SASS members identify their appetite for risk is by comparing where they're invested today to where they could be invested. This exercise is a great way to determine the right level of risk for them. Market volatility and risk is never far away, so it's crucial to stay disciplined and stick to your long term plan. Getting financial advice that's tailored to your circumstances is the best way to ensure you make decisions that are right for you.

Financial advice services are provided by Aware Financial Services Australia Limited (ABN 86 003 742 756, AFSL 238430), wholly owned by Aware Super.

Investing for your retirement

Enlisting smart investment strategies is key to ensuring your long-term financial security. This worksheet provides some tips on what to think about when investing for retirement.

Download the worksheet

Your helpful SASS guide

Keep this downloadable guide close by, for when you need it.

Where to next?

Log in to see how your personal contributions to your SASS account before tax, might give some tax advantages.

Download this cheat sheet to discover some steps you can take towards planning for your ideal retirement.

Find out how personal contributions to your SASS account can increase your Employer Financed Benefit.

You can log in to your SASS account to review your investment choices.

SASS seminars are a great way to learn about your scheme and ask the questions that matter to you. 

Find a seminar near you.

Call us to speak to a planner about your SASS benefit.