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Your SASS benefit is likely to be your main source of income in retirement. Once you exit SASS, you’ll need to decide what you want to do with your money. 

Making big decisions during periods of volatility can be daunting but with the right support you can feel confident to take the next step.

In this article we discuss the options SASS members have and explore the opportunities investing in retirement presents for SASS retirees.

Volatile markets can impact your confidence

It’s not unusual to feel concerned about your retirement savings when markets are volatile. 

You may be wondering about the timing of your SASS exit. The good news is that contributing SASS members don’t need to be overly concerned about the impact of market volatility on their final benefit amount. This is because approximately two thirds of the final benefit amount is based on a formula and is not impacted by investment performance.  

The investment decisions you make about your SASS benefit when you exit are important.  Especially when you consider that a considerable amount of income paid to you from your retirement income account could be coming from the investment earnings on your account balance.

The goal for many people is to keep growing their savings while at the same time preserving what they already have. Once you exit SASS you may find that market volatility will have a more significant impact on your decision making.

Investment opportunities arise from volatility

If you are ready to exit SASS and feel confident you’re on track with your retirement goals then short-term market movements should not override your plan. In fact, volatile markets can present opportunities for SASS members who are looking to exit. You’ll be ‘buying into the market’ when prices are depressed. If you assume that the market recovers (and history tells us it does) you will have bought when investments are ‘good value’. 



Once you have invested your money it’s important to take a long-term view. When markets fall, it can be tempting to switch to investments you might think are less risky, like cash. However, the reality is that switching could actually have a negative effect on your super balance.

The chart above shows the benefits of staying invested in retirement, even as markets move up and down. You can see that staying invested rather than switching to cash when markets fell at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic meant your super savings grew more.

Sometimes doing nothing, staying the course, and staying invested can give the best outcome, because switching can mean locking in losses and losing the opportunity of benefiting when markets start to rise.

Disclaimer: The Aware Super Balanced Growth (pension) vs switching to Cash chart is for illustrative purposes only and does not take into account any members’ personal situation nor does it count for contributions or some fees such as administration fees. Source: Aware Super unit price for the Balanced Growth and Cash option. Aware Super retirement income stream, 15 June 2022. Returns are not of investment fees, tax and implicit asset-based administration fees. Investment returns are not guaranteed. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Source:

You could have more income each year if you stay invested in the super system for retirement

You have the option to stay within super when you exit SASS by rolling over your money to the retirement phase with another super fund. Many SASS members do this so they can use an account-based pension to receive a regular income in retirement and keep their savings invested in the market. This can boost their retirement income.

An account-based pension or retirement income account gives you access to a range of flexible investment options designed to suit your retirement needs and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. Importantly you’ll enjoy a zero tax rate on your earnings and if you are over age 60, your income payments are tax-free.

Investing with professionals can make it easier to tolerate volatility 

An account-based pension gives you access to professional investment managers with experience in managing retirement risks like longevity risk and sequencing risk. You also have the opportunity to spread your money and diversify your risk across different asset classes with access to a range of investment opportunities not typically available to retail investors.  

By having a good mix of investments, you can minimise the risk that your investments lose value at the same time and increase your chances of a better overall return.  

Getting to know your risk tolerance and risk capacity

An objective assessment of your tolerance and capacity for risk is an important step in feeling confident about your investment decisions and keeping a level head during times of market uncertainty.

Risk tolerance refers to how well you will psychologically handle a period of poor investment returns. Will you be able to sleep at night or will you be gripped with worry and panic? If you hit the sell button or switch your super to cash at the first sign of market volatility, then chances are you have a low tolerance for risk.

Risk capacity on the other hand has to do with the risk you need to take to reach your financial goals and how much risk you are financially able to accept. Risk capacity is about whether you can financially afford to take a certain amount of risk with your savings at a particular point in time.

To evaluate risk capacity other factors come into play such as the income you’ll need to fund your lifestyle, the length of time you will be in retirement, how much money you would need to access quickly for a rainy day, now and in the future.

Once you’ve finished work or chosen to retire, you’ll need to decide what to do with your SASS benefit when you exit the scheme. There are 5 key options you have:

  1. The final benefit paid as a cash lump sum 
  2. Roll over your SASS benefit into a super fund and leave it in the accumulation phase
  3. Start a retirement income account/account-based pension
  4. A combination of lump sum and super 
  5. Leave (defer) your final benefit in SASS

This doesn’t have to be a black-and-white decision: you can always take some of your super as a lump sum and put the rest into an account-based pension or annuity. Or if you’re not ready to decide you can defer your benefit within the SASS scheme or roll over to another super fund until you’ve made a choice. The important thing to remember is, once you take your money out of super, there will potentially be restrictions on putting it back in.

If you were transferred to SASS from another scheme, you may also have the option of a lifetime pension. If you’re unsure whether you qualify for this option, it’s always best to check your annual statement or contact State Super. Visit or call 1300 130 095.

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Book an appointment

At Aware Super, we are experts in your state super scheme and know the ins and outs of planning for a successful retirement. 

To help you make better decisions for your retirement, book today for a no cost, obligation free appointment with an Aware Super financial planner.

The information contained in this article is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. No warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information is given and no responsibility is accepted by Aware Super Pty Ltd or its employees for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the information provided.

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