FAQs

Read answers to frequently asked member questions below.

You can also read answers to common questions on:

 

Frequently asked questions

Redundancy

Pensions (including CPI and tax)

Statements

Investments

Third party (including financial advisors)

Membership, contributions and transfers

Death and invalidity benefits

Financial hardship

Family law

Fees and charges

Legislation

Transition to retirement

Eligible service period (ESP)

 

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Redundancy

How do I request a benefit estimate?

In order to obtain a benefit estimate for redundancy, voluntary or involuntary retirement, we require your employer to complete the Estimate Request Form for Employer use only.

Alternatively, you can use the I-Estimator located on Member Services Online to project your potential final benefit. All you need is an access number. You can obtain one by phoning our Customer Information Centre on 1300 000 277.

What are the benefit estimate processing times?

Estimates that can be generated automatically are being completed and sent within around four business days.

Estimates that require manual intervention can take up to 15 business days to be completed and sent.

I am under the age of 55, can I claim a pension?

Yes, you can take a reduced maximum pension with a refund of productivity contributions or you can claim a standard CPI-indexed pension with a lump sum.

Please note: lump sum benefits are restricted if you have not yet reached your preservation age.

How is my benefit calculated?

If you claim a full lump sum, no pension, the benefit is calculated by adding your basic contributions, supplementary contributions (if applicable), any productivity component (if applicable) and fund earnings multiplied by 3.5.

If you elect to preserve your benefit and claim either immediately, or at a later date, your pension will be 2.5 multiplied by your basic contributions and interest, multiplied by the age conversion factor at the age you claim.

If you elect the immediate pension it is calculated as a percentage of your final superannuation salary,based on your age and years of contributory service.

Will I have to pay tax on my CSS benefit?

Tax is payable on both lump sum payments and pensions.

The amount of tax is affected by the following:

  • your age at the date you claim
  • if you are taking a lump sum and pension
  • If you rollover your money into another superannuation fund.

For more information read Facsheets on taxation.

What benefit application form do I need to complete?

The CSS Involuntary retirement (SRR1) application form will need to be completed.

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When does my benefit application form have to be completed by?

Elections to preserve benefits in the CSS must be made within 21 days of your retirement date.

If you are preserving your benefit and then electing for immediate payment of the deferred benefit, both the election to preserve and the application for payment of the deferred benefit must be signed, dated and submitted to your personnel section prior to the nominated claim date.

This means that it is not possible for you to backdate your claim.

All other elections can be made up to three months prior to your retirement date and up to three months after.

Do I submit my application form directly to CSS?

No. All completed application forms need to be submitted to your personnel or payroll section first. Your employer will then forward your application form directly to CSS for processing.

How long will it take CSS to process my application form?

While every effort will be made to process redundancy benefit payments as quickly as possible, accuracy must be of primary consideration when doing so. Therefore, it may take between four and eight weeks from receipt of a complete and correct application form before payment will be made.

Please note: if you are preserving your benefit and then electing for immediate payment of the deferred benefit, processing will not be completed until after your claim date.

Where can I get more information?

EMAIL   members@css.gov.au

PHONE 1300 000 277

FAX       02 6272 9612

MAIL      CSS
               GPO Box 2252
               Canberra ACT 2601

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Pensions (including CPI and tax)

What is the new CPI rate?

The January 2014 CPI increase is 1.6%

 

How is the CPI increase calculated?

Please refer to the Pension Update - Issue 23 [PDF 215 KB]

If you would like more information on the CPI rates used in the calculation go to the ABS here

 

Why is tax taken from my CSS pension?

CSS pensions are considered to be taxable income by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and therefore we are obliged to deduct tax from your pension according to the relevant PAYG taxation schedules.

We will deduct any tax concessions you are eligible for automatically each fortnight, unless you have advised us that you wish to claim these concessions on an annual basis through your income tax return.

If you think you should not be paying tax on your pension you will need to apply to the ATO for an assessment. You can do this by completing a PAYG income tax withholding variation (ITWV) form available at ato.gov.au and submitting it to the ATO. Once the ATO has provided you with an assessment, you can forward this information to the CSS and we will apply any changes to your tax on the next available payday.

More information can be found in the Tax and your CSS pension factsheet [PDF: 172 KB]

 

I’ve recently turned 60, will this affect my pension?

Once you turn 60 there may be significant tax changes to your CSS pension. For more information please refer to the Tax concessions for pensions factsheet [PDF: 171 KB]

 

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Statements

Why can’t I view my member statement online?

You will not be able to view your statement online if you are:

  • an associate member of the CSS as a result of a family law split
  • are a Delayed Updated Pension (DUP) member
  • have a postponed benefit
  • have a deferred benefit and are over the age of 65.

You may also be excluded from receiving a statement if we have received two items of mail ‘Return to Sender’. If you think we may have an incorrect address on file, please call the Customer Information Centre on 1300 000 277 so that we can update your address and request your statement be sent to you.

 

I think my superannuation salary on my statement is incorrect.

Your salary for superannuation is reported on your birthday each year by your personnel section. You may receive salary increases throughout the financial year, but until you pass another birthday your salary will not be reported through onto your account.

If you still think your salary is incorrect, you will need to contact your personnel section and advise them to report through the correct or most recent birthday salary.

 

Why do I have a negative co-contribution?

We have been directed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to recover co-contributions from members where there has been an overpayment.

If this applies to you, you will notice a negative co-contribution rate reported in your 2011-2012 member statement.

Please call the ATO on 13 10 20 if you have any enquiries.

 

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I contributed to the CSS earlier than my commencement date shows. Why is this?

If you contributed to the CSS, but left and re-joined at any point your statement will always show your latest commencement date.

We still have a record of the earlier commencement date and will use this when calculating your final benefit.

 

Why is my contributory service less than the actual years I’ve been a member for?

If you have had part-time employment or any leave without pay (LWOP), contributory service is pro-rated for these periods and therefore may be less than your actual years of membership.

More information about these types of employment can be found on the CSS Changing from permanent full-time to permanent part-time [PDF 375 KB]

If you would like to discuss you individual CSS account, please call the Customer Information Centre on 1300 000 277 or email an enquiry using the member enquiry form — CSS.

 

What is the rate of allotment?

This figure is an indication of the earnings on your account over the 2011-2012 financial year. The return averages the changes to your account over this period and because it’s an average it is only an indicative figure.

To determine your rate of allotment, we take your opening balance, average member cash flows (such as contributions and transfers), and closing balance to calculate an indicative return for the year.

Note: This rate of allotment will change if you have switched investment options within the financial year. A pro-rated rate of allotment will be shown in your next member statement.

 

Why do I have negative investment earnings?

Superannuation investments are designed to provide positive growth over the long term. However, in the short term, investment values will fluctuate, which may result in positive or negative returns. It is important to remember that, while diverse investment strategies have been created to provide a balanced investment, positive returns are not guaranteed and growth will be affected by fluctuations in the global financial market.

As a CSS member you have the option of switching between the Default Fund, a medium-to-high risk investment and the Cash Investment Option, a very low risk investment. Because of this, we suggest you seek independent licensed financial advice about your investment options before making any changes. More information can be found under Investment & Performance.

 

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Investments

Do the investment option changes / changed investment return objectives impact on my defined benefit?

The changes have no impact on the determination of your CSS benefit.

For information about the impact of investment returns on your benefit, refer to the Investment Options and Risk booklet, available from the PDS page.

I have seen on your website that you have changed the investment return objective and target asset allocation for the Default option – do I need to do anything?

You don’t need to take any action. You should however review the changes to the investment objective and the asset allocations. These are available in the CSS Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and the Investment Options and Risk booklet (which forms part of the PDS), available from the PDS page.

Why has the investment objective changed for the Default options?

Investment return objectives are as follows:

CSS Investment Option Investment Return Objective - 1 March 2013
Investment Horizon Previous Return Objective
Default CPI + 3.5% 10 years CPI + 4.5%

 

CSC has changed the investment objective for the Default option because it expects that, for the same level of risk taking, average investment returns in the decade ahead will be lower than those generated in the stronger‑growth environment of the 1980s-2000s. This reflects the ongoing impact of the global financial crisis. As developed economies reduce their debt, growth in economic activity and in corporate earnings is likely to be lower, on average, than the decades preceding the crisis.

 

Third party (including financial advisors)

I am calling on behalf of a CSS member, how can I get information?

If we have verbal or written authority from the member, we can provide a nominated third party with information on their account.

Verbal authority: Before we can release any information we need to perform an identification check on the member and receive verbal authority to speak with the nominated third party. Verbal authority is only valid for that call.

Written authority: We accept written authority supplied by a member, so long as it clearly states the name of the person/s and firm (if applicable) nominated as a third party.

However, we have a Third Party Authority form which is our preferred method of receiving
access requests.

All requests for written authority must be signed by the member and include at least three points of valid identification that we can match to their CSS membership.

Each time you (the third party) call, you will be asked to provide four points of member identification.

Examples of identification include:

  • full name
  • membership/reference or AGS number
  • date of birth
  • current address
  • current employer (contributing members only).

Completed Third Party Authority forms can be scanned and emailed, faxed or posted to CSS.

I have Power of Attorney (POA) for a member/pensioner, what do I need to do?

You need to post us a certified copy of the Power of Attorney (POA). To be valid, the POA or an attached cover letter needs to contain at least three points of identification, which can be matched to the member’s file and must show the member’s signature.

Each time you (the Power of Attorney) calls, you will be asked to provide four points of member identification.

Examples of identification include:

  • full name
  • membership/reference or AGS number
  • date of birth
  • current address
  • current employer (contributing members only)

If you wish to make changes to the member’s account, you will need to put your request in writing along with three points of member identification.

 

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Membership, contributions and transfers

If I have not paid contributions for more than 12 months, am I considered a lost member and will my benefits then be transferred to the ATO?

No.

New lost member arrangements that come into effect from 1 January 2013 do not apply to defined benefit schemes such as the CSS. Your benefit remains deferred in the CSS until claimed after reaching your preservation age.

However, deferred benefits cannot be left deferred in the CSS past age 65. Therefore, if you do not claim your benefit when you reach age 65 and ComSuper has not received any money on your behalf for the past 2 years and it has been 5 years since we last had contact from you, then all or part of your benefit may be transferred to the ATO as unclaimed money.

Please make sure the contact details you have provided to us are up to date. This will ensure that you receive regular member statements and other fund updates about your deferred benefit.

How do I change my contribution rate?

If you would like to alter your contribution rate, please contact your pay office or personnel section. 

Please note that varying your contribution rate can affect your final benefit. You may wish to seek independent licensed financial advice before making any changes.

Is there a limit on how much I can contribute into the fund?

You can contribute either 5% of your salary, or you can choose to contribute 0%.These rates are referred to as your basic contributions.

You can also voluntarily pay supplementary contributions above the 5% basic contribution. These do not have to be in whole percentage rates. For example, you could pay supplementary contributions of 6.5%. Your employer deducts contributions from your after-tax salary.

You can contribute as much as you want, however contributions over the concessional and non-concessional caps will be taxed at the marginal tax rate.

Concessional caps

The cap on concessional contributions is $25,000 for the financial year 2012-2013.

Your employer productivity contributions are classed as concessional contributions for tax purposes.

Non-concessional caps

The cap on non-concessional contributions is $150,000 per year or $450,000 over three years.

Your member contributions are classed as non-concessional contributions for tax purposes.

 

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Death and invalidity benefits

Can I nominate or change my beneficiaries?

No, you cannot. CSS scheme rules determine who receives your CSS benefit in the event of your death, which means the CSS cannot accept binding beneficiary nominations. Under the CSS rules, your benefit will be paid in the event of your death to any eligible spouse and/or eligible children. An eligible spouse is defined as a person who was living in a marital or couple relationship with you at the time of your death, for a continuous period of three years or more. If you were in a relationship for less than three years, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (Trustee of CSS) may still declare a spouse to be eligible.

If you don’t have eligible beneficiaries at the time of your death, your CSS benefit will be paid to your estate. You may wish to reference your superannuation entitlement in a Will. More information can be found in the Death benefits [PDF 396 KB].

 

Do I have insurance cover?

Although traditional insurance is not offered through CSS, members do receive death and invalidity cover. This cover is provided under the scheme rules and you do not pay insurance premiums or other fees.

More information about invalidity benefits can be found in the Invalidity benefits factsheet’ under Factsheets.

 

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Financial Hardship

I’m in financial hardship; can I access my super now?

In certain circumstances you may access part of your CSS benefit early on severe financial hardship, or other specified grounds (not available to associate members).

In order to qualify for access to your benefit early, you must satisfy some conditions of release. More information can be found in the Early access to super benefits [PDF 362 KB].

If you wish to apply for this type of benefit you will need to complete the Early access to super benefits [PDF 362 KB].

If you do not qualify for early access to your superannuation benefits on severe financial hardship grounds, you may consider asking the Department of Human Services to approve the release of benefits on specified grounds. Some examples of the types of expenses you may be able to claim include:

  • medical expenses
  • renovations to your home necessitated by severe disability
  • some funereal expenses
  • mortgage / home loan payments—to prevent loss of your home.

All enquiries regarding applications for early release on these grounds should be directed to the Department of Human Services on 1300 131 060. An application form is also available from their website at www.humanservices.gov.au

 

Family law

I’ve separated from my partner, what do I need to do?

Super can be split for family law purposes. More information about family law can be found in the Family law and super splitting booklet [PDF 306 KB]. 

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Fees and charges

What fees and charges do I need to pay?

As a member of the CSS you do not pay any administration fees or member transaction costs. These costs are covered by your employer (or your former employer if you are a preserved benefit member). We deduct investment management costs from investment earnings before determining the fund earning rate.

More information can be found under costs.

 

Legislation

Where can I find CSS legislation?

The rules governing the CSS are located under our legislation.

 

Transition to retirement

I’m a contributing member of CSS, can I do transition to retirement?

CSS governing rules do not allow such payments to be made from CSS to contributing members. However, under the current rules, in certain limited circumstances, members can cease their contributory membership of CSS and become entitled to payment of a super benefit while remaining employed by the same employer. For more information please read the Transition to retirement fact sheet (CSF24) on our Factsheets page.

The Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan (PSSap) offers contributing CSS members the opportunity to stay within the government superannuation environment as they transition from working life into retirement via the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation retirement income (CSCri) transition to retirement income stream. Visit the CSCri website for more information.

First determine whether CSCri and a TTR strategy is appropriate for you. You must then join PSSap as an Ancillary Member (meaning you will be a member of two government super schemes). PSSap Ancillary Members can start a TTR strategy using CSCri, an account-based retirement product. If you wish to use any super monies you hold outside of government super to begin your CSCri account, you must consolidate them into your PSSap Ancillary Member account first.

For more information on the PSSap Ancillary Membership see Ancillary membership on the PSSap website.

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Eligible service period (ESP)

What is my eligible service period (ESP)?

The eligible service period (ESP) start date relates to the date your eligible service period commenced and is used to calculate the various components of your superannuation lump sum payment for taxation purposes.

Generally, your ESP is the number of days between the date you commenced your current employment (which may be earlier than the date you joined the CSS) and the date your payment is made. If you were formerly a CSS member who commenced membership before 1 July 1983 and you have a long service leave start date that is earlier than your CSS start date, the earlier date applies as your ESP start date. Earlier periods of employment for which you paid a transfer value into the CSS are added to your ESP.

 

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