FAQs

Read answers to frequently asked member questions below.

You can also read answers to common questions on the following topics:

 

Frequently asked questions

Redundancy

Pensions (including CPI & tax)

Statements

Investments

Third Party (including Financial advisors)

Membership, Contributions & Transfers

Death and invalidity benefits

Financial Hardship

Family Law

Fees & 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 000 377.

What are the benefit estimate processing times?

Estimates that can be generated automatically are 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 convert your total PSS benefit to a CPI-indexed pension, which is payable for life and indexed twice yearly. Reversionary pensions are payable to any eligible spouse and/or children if you pass away.

How is my benefit calculated?

Your PSS benefit is calculated using the following formula:

Final Average Salary (FAS) x your Accrued Benefit Multiple (ABM)

The FAS for redundancy is calculated slightly differently to normal retirement to include your salary on exit.

The exit salary is pro-rated with the oldest of the last three birthday salaries.

Example: Redundancy FAS calculation if a member leaves 3 months after their birthday.

2011 salary: $60,000

2012 salary: $64,000

2013 salary: $68,000

Exit Salary: $72,000

Final Salary

Exit salary ($72,000 x 92 days) ÷ 365 = $18,148

2011 salary

($60,000 x 273 days) ÷ 365 = $44,876 = $63,024

FAS

($68,000 + $64,000 + $63,024) ÷ 3 = $65,008

Will I have to pay tax on my PSS 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 a pension
  • if you rollover your money into another superannuation fund.

For more information read Factsheets on taxation.

What benefit application form do I need to complete?

The PSS Involuntary retirement (SRR1)application form will need to be completed. If you have previously transferred any money into the PSS, you may also need to complete a Retirement Supplement (SR-PSS).

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

Applications should be completed within 90 days of your retirement date.

Do I submit my application form directly to PSS?

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 PSS for processing.

Any benefits requiring manual or family law intervention will take longer.

How long will it take PSS 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.

Where can I get more information?

EMAIL:   members@pss.gov.au

PHONE: 1300 000 377

FAX:       02 6272 9613

MAIL:     PSS                GPO Box 2252                Canberra ACT 2601

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Pensions (including CPI & 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 178 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 PSS 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 PSS and we will apply any changes to your tax on the next available payday.

More information can be found in the Tax concessions for PSS pensions factsheet [PDF: 193 KB]

 

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

Once you turn 60 there may be significant tax changes to your PSS pension. For more information please refer to the Tax concession for PSS pensions [PDF 193 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 PSS as a result of a family law split
  • 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.

 

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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.

 

I contributed into the PSS earlier than my commencement date shows. Why is this?

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

We still have a record of the earlier commencement date on file.

 

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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 return, positive returns are not guaranteed and growth will be affected by fluctuations in the global financial market.

PSS preserved members 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 about investments and performance 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 PSS 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 PSS 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:

PSS 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 PSS 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 PSS 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 PSS.

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 3 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 4 points of 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 3 points of member identification.

Our contact details can be found under Contact Us.

 

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Membership, Contributions & 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 PSS. Your benefit remains preserved in the PSS until claimed after reaching your preservation age.

However, preserved benefits cannot be left preserved in the PSS 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 preserved 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 contribution between 2% and 10% as a whole percentage of your salary, or you can choose to contribute 0%. Your employer deducts these contributions from your after-tax salary.

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 2012-13.

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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Can I transfer/roll money from another superannuation fund into the PSS?

Only contributing members of the PSS can transfer money in. In order to do this you will need to follow three easy steps:

  • Complete the ‘Application to pay in a transfer amount form’ under Forms and return to the PSS.
  • Tell your old fund that you want to transfer benefits to the PSS. If they ask you for the policy number of your new fund you should quote your AGS number.
  • Ask for the transferred cheque to be made payable to ‘The Public Sector Superannuation Scheme’. The fund will send the cheque directly to us at:

PSS
GPO Box 2252
CANBERRA   ACT   2601

More information about can be found in the ‘Rolling money into PSS factsheet’ under Factsheets.

 

Death and invalidity benefits

Can I nominate or change my beneficiaries

No, you cannot. PSS scheme rules determine who receives your PSS benefit in the event of your death, which means the PSS cannot accept binding beneficiary nominations. Under the PSS 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 PSS) may still declare a spouse to be eligible.

If you don’t have eligible beneficiaries at the time of your death, your PSS 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’ under Factsheets.

 

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Do I have insurance cover?

Although traditional insurance is not offered through PSS, 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.

 

Financial Hardship

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

In certain circumstances, you may access part of your PSS 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 factsheetunder Factsheets.

If you wish to apply for this type of benefit you will need to complete the ‘Early access to superannuation benefits application form’ under Forms.

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 funeral 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

 

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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’ under Publications.

 

Fees & Charges

What fees & charges do I need to pay?

As a member of the PSS 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 Your Scheme > How PSS Works > Costs.

 

Legislation

Where can I find PSS legislation?

The rules governing the PSS are located under Your Scheme > How PSS Works > Legislation.

 

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Transition to Retirement

I’m a contributing member of the PSS. Can I do Transition to Retirement?

PSS governing rules do not allow transition to retirement strategies in the scheme.

PSS members can however select a transition to retirement income stream through the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation retirement income stream (CSCri). It is one of two income streams available to you, the other being a standard retirement income stream.

To transition to retirement you must join PSSap as an Ancillary Member (meaning you will be a member of two government super schemes). See Ancillary membership on the PSSap website for more information.

 

Eligible Service Period (ESP)

What is my eligible service period (ESP)?

The ESP start date relates to the date your eligible service period (ESP) 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 or PSS) 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 PSS start date, then that earlier date applies as your ESP start date. Earlier periods of employment for which you paid a transfer value into the CSS or PSS are added to your ESP.

 

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