CSS Member Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below a list of answers to some of the most common questions I have received during my time providing advice to CSS members.

CSS is a highly complex scheme. It is critical in all circumstances that ALL CSS members get expert financial advice tailored to their personal situation.

Any information on this page is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this page you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, situation and needs. 

Why do I need financial advice around my CSS?

I have been advising on CSS for around seven years. In this time I have completed advice for hundreds of members. Unfortunately, I sometimes see people after they have made irreversible decisions which have had a substantially detrimental impact on their retirement income. This is why for CSS in particular, it is absolutely critical that before members take any steps (including returning to a contributing employer) that they consult with a licensed advisor with CSS expertise.

What is the CSS 54/11?

The CSS 54/11 is the preservation of your CSS for a later claim at or after your recorded retirement age with Comsuper. In most cases this is 55, in some cases this is 50. In order to preserve your CSS, you need to cease employment with a CSS contributing employer before your registered retirement age, elect to preserve your CSS and not rejoin a CSS contributing employer. Exiting in this way will trigger the CSS 54/11 benefit calculation. Learn more. Redundancy creates significant added complexity to these rules. You should always seek expert financial advice around claiming your CSS but in the case of redundancy this is critical.

What is the CSS Age Retirement?

A CSS Age Retirement benefit comes about when you cease work with a contributing employer after your recorded retirement age and do not commence with a new contributing employer. Exiting in this way will trigger the CSS Age Retirement benefit calculation. Learn more. Redundancy creates significant added complexity to these rules. You should always seek expert financial advice around claiming your CSS but in the case of redundancy this is critical.

How does redundancy impact the CSS?

Redundancy comes with its own special rules for CSS members. If you are a CSS contributing member and you are offered a redundancy it may offer the opportunity to access the 54/11 calculation if you have passed your recorded retirement age. Under ALL circumstances, redundancies need personalised advice from a financial adviser with CSS expertise. Learn more.

Can I get Centrelink benefits if I am receiving a CSS pension?

Any CSS taken as a pension will be assessed under the income stream (and not the assets test) while any CSS taken as a lump sum is assessed as an asset and also deemed. This means there are opportunities to enhance any Centrelink benefits available to you. 

Can I rejoin the CSS?

You are able to rejoin CSS, but by rejoining, you will lose any preserved status. This can be hugely detrimental to your retirement plans. If this is something you are considering it’s critical to seek advice around your CSS super. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get advice around this before taking any steps.  

Can I go back to work after accessing my CSS super?

You can return to the workforce, but it’s critical to seek advice if you are considering returning after accessing your CSS super. There are various issues that will need investigation and advice.

Is the CSS pension taxed?

CSS pensions are usually made up of three components: all having different tax treatments at various ages. The untaxed component of your CSS pension will be taxable for the life of the pension. Tax rebates apply at various ages and are dependent on the size of the pension.

Can I rollover my CSS super?

CSS members should be extremely cautious about rolling over their benefit into a different fund and should first seek out expert advice from a CSS specialist. The CSS has unique inbuilt strengths and benefits that would all be lost on rollover.

What is the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS)?

The Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) was established under the 1976 Superannuation Act. It was closed to new members from 1 July 1990. It is a defined benefit superannuation scheme primarily for Australian Government employees. It was replaced by the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS) for new employees to the APS.

What is the retirement age for the CSS?

Members of the CSS are able to access their pensions at age 55 (if they have left their employer). This contrasts with the preservation age for members of most other super funds, born after 1 July 1964, whose preservation age is 60.