Judges' Pensions Scheme

Information about the scheme including benefits payable is available in the Judges' Pensions Scheme Handbook:

Long Term Cost Reports for the Judges' Pensions Scheme are also available, dating from 2005 to current. 

Judges' Pensions Scheme Overview

  • Benefits under the Judges' Pensions Scheme are governed by the Judges' Pensions Act 1968.
  • The Judges' Pensions Scheme covers the following office holders:
    • presidential members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
    • presidential members of Fair Work Australia
    • Judges of the Family Court of Australia (including the Family Court of Western Australia)
    • Judges of the Federal Court of Australia
    • Judges of the High Court of Australia
    • Solicitors-General appointed before 31 December 1997
    • Judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court appointed before self-government

Note: The Judges' Pensions Scheme does not cover Judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The superannuation arrangements for these Judges are outlined below.

  • The Scheme is unfunded and no assets are held. Benefits are financed from Consolidated Revenue as they become due for payment. Judges and retired Judges do not contribute to the Scheme and the Commonwealth meets the costs of benefits.
  • The main benefit is a retirement pension of 60 per cent of the salary payable to the equivalent level judge, provided the judge has 10 years of service and the judge is 60 years of age or older.
  • Judges have a compulsory retirement age of 70, except for presidential members of Fair Work Australia where the compulsory retirement age is 65.
  • A reversionary pension is payable to the surviving partner (including a same sex relationship) following the death of a serving or retired Judge.
  • A pension of 60 per cent of the salary payable to the equivalent level judge is payable to a Judge who retires on the grounds of permanent disability or infirmity (following certification by the Finance Minister). Applications will be subject to the general process outlined below.
  • Responsibility for policy and administration of the Scheme was transferred from the Attorney-General's Department to Finance on 1 January 2010.

Disability Arrangements for Judges

Disability Arrangements under the Judges’ Pensions Act 1968 (JP Act) and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 (FCFC Act)
Persons who have the status of a “Judge” within the meaning of the JP Act or persons who are a Judge under the FCFC Act may seek certification from the Finance Minister that their retirement was due to permanent disability or infirmity under section 6(2AA) of the JP Act or section 122 of the FCCA Act respectively.

This would require the Finance Minister to consider and make decisions on matters that require medical (and other) expertise.

The following describes the general process to be undertaken for any requests for retirement due to permanent disability or infirmity, under the JP Act or the FCFC Act.

  • Following the retirement of a Judge, a written application is submitted to the Finance Minister, which will be referred to the Department of Finance, as the administrator of the Judges’ pension arrangements, for advice.
  • Finance will undertake an initial review of the application and any supporting documentation (such as medical reports) provided by the Judge. If Finance considers that insufficient information has been provided, it will contact the Judge and/or their nominated representative, to request further information.
  • When Finance considers that sufficient information has been provided, the Secretary of the Department of Finance will write to the Secretary of the Department of Health, requesting that the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) undertake an independent assessment of the medical evidence supporting the Judge’s application. Copies of the Judge’s application, supporting medical reports and any other supporting material provided by the Judge will be provided as part of this correspondence.
  • The CMO will consider the supporting medical reports, the application and any other supporting material to the extent relevant, and determine whether, in his or her view, further medical opinion or examination(s) is required to support a conclusion that the Judge suffers from a relevant permanent disability or infirmity. If a further medical examination is required, the CMO will engage an appropriately certified medical practitioner to undertake the examination. The CMO will consider the report of that examination, in addition to the medical reports provided by the Judge in forming an opinion as to whether the Judge suffers from a relevant permanent disability or infirmity.
  • The CMO will provide his or her opinion, in writing, to the Secretary of the Department of Finance (copied to the Secretary of the Department of Health).
  • The Finance Minister should consider the Judge’s application and any attached medical reports, the advice of the CMO and consider any other matter relevant to the decision-making process (including taking advice from appropriate experts if necessary).
  • If the Minister proposes to deny the Judge’s application, the Minister will notify the Judge of this, and provide the Judge with a reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposed decision.
  • The Minister will advise the Judge, in writing, of his or her decision.

Please note there is no standard timeframe for the assessment of these applications. They are considered on a case-by-case basis, and there can be many factors that influence the length of time it takes for the Minister to make a decision.

If the Minister certifies that retirement was due to permanent disability or infirmity, the entitlement is backdated to the date of retirement. If the Minister does not certify that the retirement was due to permanent disability or infirmity, an application for review of the decision can be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


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