You can also read answers to common questions on:
- member statements
- withdrawing benefits
- tax and your super
- 54/11 or age retirement
- custody transition
- for financial planners
Frequently asked questions
- Why can’t I view my member statement online?
- I think my superannuation salary on my statement is incorrect
- Why do I have a negative co-contribution?
- I contributed to the CSS earlier than my commencement date shows. Why is this?
- Why is my contributory service less than the actual years I’ve been a member for?
- What is the rate of allotment?
- Why do I have negative investment earnings?
- Do the investment option changes / changed investment return objectives impact on my defined benefit?
- 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?
- Why has the investment objective changed for the Default options?
- I am calling on behalf of a member, how can I get information?
- I have Power of Attorney (POA) for a member/pensioner. What do I need to do?
- 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?
- How do I change my contribution rate?
- Is there a limit on how much I can contribute into the fund?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Changing to part-time employment factsheet [PDF: 197 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have an eligible spouse and/or children when you die, they may be eligible for a benefit. For information around eligibility requirements and potential benefits, please refer to the Death benefits factsheet [PDF: 196 KB]
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 www.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]
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: The member can provide a written authority, which clearly states the name of the person/s and firm (if applicable) nominated as a third party.
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 the member’s file.
Each time you (the third party) 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).
Authorities can be scanned and emailed, faxed or posted to the CSS administrator, ComSuper.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 factsheet [PDF: 196 KB].
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.
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 factsheet [PDF: 174 KB].
If you wish to apply for this type of benefit you will need to complete the Early access to super benefits factsheet [PDF: 174 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
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].
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.
The rules governing the CSS are located under our legislation.
Members can cease their contributory membership of the CSS and become entitled to payment of a benefit whilst remaining employed by the same employer. There are limited circumstances where CSS contributing members may be able to cease contributory membership while remaining employed by the same employer. These are:
- joining another employer sponsored superannuation scheme.
You must be allowed under the terms of your employment to join another employer sponsored scheme.
Your employer must contribute more than the required 9% Superannuation Guarantee (e.g. at least 9.1%) to that scheme. This amount increases each financial year and cannot include salary sacrificed amounts. If you are employed under the Public Service ACT or are a non- APS ACT employee then you will not have this option to join an employer sponsored superannuation scheme. You should speak to your employer and any employer sponsored schemes before making a decision.
- changing to temporary part-time or casual employment.
Your employment must cease as an ongoing employee. Your new employment must be either non-ongoing part-time or casual employment. This arrangement is at the discretion of your employer. Because scheme rules do not allow these two types of employment your membership of the scheme must cease.
Please note: Simply changing your employment status to part-time and organising an end date with your employer, does not count as being employed as a 'temporary part time' employee. You must resign from your ongoing position and commence employment as a temporary part-time employee.
You may wish to see a licensed financial planner before making a decision about your superannuation
More information can be found in the Transition to retirement factsheet [PDF: 183 KB].
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.