Invalidity retirement

In general, an invalidity retirement pension will be paid to you if Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of PSS) agrees to your retirement because a permanent medical condition is likely to stop you working again.

Learn more in the PSS Product Disclosure Statement.  

What is the application process?

Before you apply, you must be examined by an approved medical practitioner. Your personnel section can arrange your appointment and provide the necessary form.

Next, all relevant documents (including any from specialists or your GP) are sent to an independent panel of experts for assessment. Cases are generally decided within three to four weeks; your application will be treated as a priority if you are terminally ill.

Finally, your employer must be notified. You cannot formally retire until your employer receives a certificate from Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of PSS) stating that you are entitled to PSS invalidity retirement benefits.

How is my benefit calculated?

Provided you are not a limited benefits member, your invalidity benefit will be calculated based on your total benefit accrual you would receive if you had worked to age 60.

On joining PSS you are required to complete a questionnaire called the Confidential Medical and Personal Statement (CMAPS).  If you disclosed medical conditions that suggest you may take excessive sick leave during the first three years of membership, you may be classified as a limited benefits member (LBM).

What are my benefit options?

Options which may be available to you are outlined in brief in the table below.

I’m a PSS preserved benefit member; what are my options?

Your options are generally the same as below. However, no prospective service is taken into account. Your benefit will be based on your equity in PSS when you retire.  Please also note, if you previously withdrew any of your preserved member component, you cannot take any remaining preserved benefit as a pension.

Your option

Which means

1. Take a pension only

You convert your entire benefit to a CPI-indexed pension which is payable to you for life and indexed twice each year; reversionary benefits are payable to your eligible spouse and children if you die

2. Take part of your benefit as a pension and part as a lump sum

You can take a lump sum of your member component and convert the remainder of your lump sum to a CPI-indexed pension which is indexed twice yearly and payable for life; reversionary benefits are payable to eligible spouse and children in the event of your death

3. Access a once off lump sum if you are terminally ill (no prospective service is taken into account)

If you are terminally ill or your retirement is due to a condition that will require you within the next two years to have daily personal or nursing care, you may be able to access a once-off lump sum of your accrued benefit up to the date of your invalidity retirement (that is, no prospective membership is taken into account)


What is a partial invalidity pension?

A partial invalidity pension is a form of income maintenance. It is paid as a pension when your salary is reduced because a permanent medical condition causes you to be downgraded or to work reduced hours.

A partial invalidity benefit is also payable if you were retired on medical grounds and return to work as a PSS member for a salary less than when you retired.

When am I not eligible for a partial invalidity pension?

  • If you are already 65 years or over when you apply
  • If you are a limited benefits member
  • If you are a casual employee
  • If your reduction in salary is not permanent
  • If your reduction in salary is caused by a condition for which worker’s compensation payments are or will be made
  • If your reduction in salary happens during your first three years of membership, and, when joining PSS, you failed to disclose a condition which would have resulted in your being treated as a limited benefits member.

Please read your Product disclosure statement to learn more about benefits payable, reappointment and returning to work, and cessation of pensions.

Fast-tracked applications for terminally ill members

If you are terminally ill, PSS will process your invalidity retirement application as soon as possible. Your personnel section can arrange for you to be examined or visited by an approved medical practitioner. Then your personnel section sends to PSS your examination results and supporting reports from your specialist and general practitioner, with a request to expedite your case.

Pre-assessment payments

These are payments you receive while waiting for your invalidity retirement application to be decided, in order to maintain your income. You receive them while Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of PSS) considers your application.

You may be entitled to pre-assessment payments if you:

  • are not receiving workers’ compensation and
  • have been off work for 28 days or more.

These payments will be approved as soon as an invalidity retirement application is received if it includes a recommendation from an approved medical practitioner that your condition means it is likely you are, or will become, unable to work.

Pre-assessment payments will not affect any final invalidity benefit you may receive. But if payment periods overlap, the overpaid pre-assessment payments must be recovered.

Retrospective (deemed) invalidity

For guidelines about the circumstances in which an application is likely to be approved or rejected, see the PSS deemed invalidity retirement guidelines [PDF 362 KB] .