Active manager

Investment manager who is required to beat a benchmark; achieved by buying securities in different proportions from their benchmark weight; actively moves away from benchmark weight in individual investments where the manager has a conviction that those investments will either out- or under-perform the benchmark

Active management

Investment approach that aims to achieve returns above a set benchmark, identifying mispriced securities, traded for profit

Activity fees

A fee is an activity fee if:

a. the fee relates to costs incurred by CSC as the trustee of the superannuation entity that are directly related to an activity of the trustee: i. that is engaged in at the request, or with the consent, of a member; or

ii. that relates to a member and is required by law; and

b. those costs are not otherwise charged as an administration fee, an investment fee, a buy-sell spread, a switching fee, an exit fee, an advice fee or an insurance fee.

Administration fees

An administration fee is a fee that relates to the administration or operation of the superannuation entity and includes costs incurred by the trustee of the entity that:

a. relate to the administration or operation of the entity; and

b. are not otherwise charged as an investment fee, a buy-sell spread, a switching fee, an exit fee, an activity fee, an advice fee or an insurance fee.

Advice fees

A fee is an advice fee if:

a. the fee relates directly to costs incurred by the trustee of the superannuation entity because of the provision of financial product advice to a member by: i. a trustee of the entity; or

ii. another person acting as an employee of, or under an arrangement with, the trustee of the entity; and

b. those costs are not otherwise charged as an administration fee, an investment fee, a switching fee, an exit fee, an activity fee or an insurance fee.

Alternative investments

Non-traditional assets outside those traditional asset classes of shares, property, fixed interest and cash; examples include infrastructure assets, buy-out funds and venture capital

Asset classes

Group of financial assets with similar investment characteristics such as Australian company shares in asset class of equity




Indexes or other market measurements to ‘benchmark’ investment performance and risk against for a comparable investment

Benefit Classification Certificate

Certificate to list any pre-existing medical condition that may affect your ability to work until retirement; generally issued if required following your medical examination upon first joining CSS

Buy-sell spreads

A buy-sell spread is a fee to recover transaction costs incurred by the trustee of the superannuation entity in relation to the sale and purchase of assets of the entity.



Cash Investment Option

Investment option to give you more earnings surety for your taxed accumulation components, rather than higher but more volatile earnings from a balanced option such as your Default Fund

Child (within meaning of Family Law Act 1975)

Definition in Family Law Act 1975includes children:

  • born to a woman as the result of an artificial conception procedure while that woman was married to, or was the de facto partner of, another person (whether of the same sex or opposite sex); and

  • who are children of a person because of an order of a state or territory court made under a state or territory law prescribed for the purposes of 60HB of the Family Law Act 1975, giving effect to a surrogacy agreement

Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

Trustee of CSS (replaced ARIA on 1 July 2011); provides superannuation services and products to Australian Government employees and Military Personnel through nine schemes:

  • Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS)

  • Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme (MilitarySuper)

  • Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS)

  • Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan (PSSap)

  • 1922 Scheme

  • DFRB Scheme

  • Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB Scheme)

  • Papua New Guinea Scheme (PNG Scheme)


Concessional contributions

Known in the past as deductible contributions, these contributions are made from before-tax income when you are a CSS contributing member; generally considered ‘employer contributions’ in CSS

Concurrent membership

CSS members cannot have concurrent memberships; if you join eligible employment as a contributing member without leaving your original employment, you must join PSS for your second employment


You can elect a basic contribution rate of between 2% and 10% of your salary (as a whole percentage), or do not contribute at all. You can also elect to make supplementary contributions to CSS from your after-tax salary. You can change your contribution rate at any time.

CPI-indexed pension


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Pension indexed half-yearly in line with consumer price index




Investment in government bonds, fixed interest or cash investments; investing in debt generally offers less risk but also lower returns than other asset classes such as equity (shares) or property

Default Fund

Your CSS investment option if you have not elected to change your choice of option in the past; referred to as ‘Default’ Fund since the introduction of Cash Investment Option in December 2004


Individual holding office as a Director of Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of CSS); includes Chairperson



Eligible child

In relation to a member who has died, an eligible child is a child of the deceased member or pensioner or of their spouse (including an adopted child, an ex-nuptial child, a foster child, a step-child, a ward, or a child of the member or spouse within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975) who:

  • has not reached age 16


  • is age 16 or more but less than age 25 and:

  • is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university; and

  • is not ordinarily employed or self-employed


  • immediately before the death of the member or pensioner:

  • ordinarily lived with the member (except where the child is a child of a spouse of the deceased person but not of the deceased person);

  • was, in the opinion of Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of CSS), wholly or substantially dependent upon the member or pensioner; or

  • where the child is born, after the death of the member or pensioner, and would have, in the opinion of Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, been living with the deceased member or pensioner or so dependent on them if the person had been born before the death of the deceased

Employer-financed component




Paid generally as an indexed pension; it is your main benefit available from CSS; depending on your reason for leaving CSS, it is determined by your final super salary, length of CSS contributory membership, prospective (‘potential’) membership and age at exit

Exit fees

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An exit fee is a fee to recover the costs of disposing of all or part of members’ interests in the superannuation entity.



Financial planning

Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances. Your life goals could include buying a home to live in, saving for your children's education, managing debt or planning for retirement




Use of debt to finance assets, usually expressed as the ratio of debt outstanding to gross asset value



Indirect cost ratio

The indirect cost ratio (ICR) for an investment option offered by a superannuation entity is the ratio of the total of the indirect costs for the investment option to the total average net assets of the superannuation entity attributed to the investment option.

Note: A dollar-based fee deducted directly from a member’s account is not included in the indirect cost ratio.

Invalidity benefits

Payable if Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, trustee of CSS, agrees to your retirement because you suffer a permanent medical condition likely to stop you working again; if totally and permanently incapacitated to the extent that you are unlikely to work again in any occupation for which you are reasonably qualified by education, training or experience (or could become so after retraining), you may be retired on invalidity grounds and become entitled to payment of invalidity benefits. A partial invalidity benefit is a form of income maintenance, paid as a pension when your salary is reduced because a permanent medical condition causes you to be downgraded or to work reduced hours; also payable if you retired on medical grounds and then returned to work in a position lower than the one you held when you were first retired on medical grounds

Investment fees

An investment fee is a fee that relates to the investment of the assets of a superannuation entity and includes:

a. fees in payment for the exercise of care and expertise in the investment of those assets (including performance fees); and

b. costs incurred by the trustee that: i. relate to the investment of assets of the entity; and

ii. are not otherwise charged as an administration fee, a buy-sell spread, a switching fee, an exit fee, an activity fee, an advice fee or an insurance fee.

Involuntary retirement

Retrenchment or redundancy, when your employment is compulsorily terminated by your employer, or when you accept an offer of retrenchment or a redundancy package, or when your employment is terminated on inefficiency grounds, due to having lost essential qualifications or, in restricted cases, on termination of contracts



Marital or couple relationship

Relationship between a member or pensioner and a person of the opposite or same sex who lived together as husband and wife or partners in a permanent and bona fide domestic relationship for a continuous period of at least three years at the date of the member or pensioner’s death; if this relationship existed for less than three continuous years at the date of death, eligibility can still be determined where Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, the trustee of CSS, is satisfied that the person ordinarily lived with the member or pensioner as husband and wife or as partners

Member component

Your basic and supplementary (if any) contributions to CSS plus scheme earnings which may be positive or negative

Member Statement

To help you keep a record of your contributions and super position in CSS, each year CSS calculates your accrued contributions, scheme earnings and potential benefits as at 30 June; your Member Statement is also available in your secure Member Services Online area

Minimum retirement age


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Age which applies to an individual in respect to minimum retirement and the terms and conditions of their employment



Non-concessional contributions

Previously known as undeducted contributions, these are personal contributions made after June 1983 from your after-tax salary when you were a CSS contributing member

Non-indexed pension

Pension purchased with your member and/or productivity components; it is not indexed to the Consumer Price Index (see CPI-indexed pension) but is paid tax-free from age 60 up to $100,000p.a



Passive manager

Investment manager who is required to track the performance of a relevant investment index as closely as possible

Passive management

Investment approach that aims to equal the overall change in a specific index such as the Dow Jones Index


Pension paid to you under CSS scheme rules

Period of membership

Period from your first to last day of scheme membership

Post-June 1990 productivity component

Fortnightly contributions paid by your employer after June 1990; paid from a ‘taxed’ source

Post-June 1994 invalidity component

Paid due to total and permanent incapacity, in consequence of employment termination

Pre-assessment payment

Partial income maintenance from the time any sick leave expires until an assessment is made about retirement on invalidity grounds

Pre-July 1983 component

Amount of your super for eligible service before 1 July 1983

Pre-July 1990 productivity component

Productivity contributions paid by your employer for the period before July 1990; it is paid from an ‘untaxed’ source

Preservation age

Age up to which certain components of your superannuation benefit must remain 'preserved' within CSS; you cannot access them until you reach preservation age, except in special circumstances

Productivity component

Employer-contributed amount dependent on your salary, paid fortnightly, to which scheme earnings are applied; it forms part of any benefit paid to you from CSS; it is from a ‘taxed’ source



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Investments including office buildings held directly or through a property trust; returns derive from rent, property development and increases in property market values. Over the long term, property investments provide lower risk and return than equity (or shares)



Reasonable Benefits Limit (RBL)

Abolished on 1 July 2007; despite RBLs no longer applying to contributions made after 1 July 2007, CSS is required by law to continue to maintain member RBL information

Regular employee

Individual who is a permanent full-time employee, a permanent part-time employee or a temporary full-time employee for at least three months; also a temporary part-time employee who is employed for at least three months and can access sick and recreation leave

Retrenchment or redundancy

Please see Involuntary Retirement

Rollover or transfer of funds

Transfer of lump sum amounts into a super fund, approved deposit fund or deferred annuity in order to avoid requirement to pay lump sum tax (if amount is not accessed until minimum retirement age)


Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustee of CSS) administers CSS in accordance with provisions in the CSS Act and is responsible for managing and investing CSS funds



Shares (or equity)

Shares (or equity) represent part-ownership of a company; shares deliver profits via share price increases and dividends; shares may provide greater long-term returns than other investments, though fluctuations may also be greater in the short term

Short position

Investment position that benefits from a decline in market price


Superannuation Industry (Supervision) (SIS) Regulation; governing federal legislation for superannuation and the super industry; SIS provides legislative basis for Superannuation Guarantee (SG)

SIS upper limit

The Superannuation Industry (Supervision) (SIS) Regulations introduced a number of changes from 1 July 1999; one is for lump sum amounts accessed before reaching preservation age; your SIS upper limit is the amount you could have taken as a lump sum had you received an involuntarily retirement (retrenchment) on 30 June 1999. Any lump sum benefit paid to you before you reach preservation age cannot exceed your SIS upper limit. If you preserve your CSS benefit and claim your benefit before reaching your preservation age, your lump sum cannot exceed your SIS upper limit. You must pay any balance in excess of your SIS upper limit to an eligible rollover fund


Under the Superannuation Act 1976, a spouse is a person who had a marital or couple relationship with a member or pensioner at the time of their death; where a person previously had a marital or couple relationship but the relationship finished before the date of death, a spouse benefit may still be payable if:

  • at the time of the deceased person’s death, the person was legally married to the deceased person, and

  • they were wholly or substantially dependent upon the deceased person at the time of the deceased person’s death

Super co-contributions

Additional super contribution amount paid by the Australian Government into super for low income earners who have made after-tax superannuation contributions in the financial year

Superannuation Guarantee (SG)

SG ensures all employers must contribute a prescribed level of contributions on behalf of their employees to a complying superannuation fund; CSS exceeds the SG prescribed minimum

Superannuation Contributions Surcharge

Tax on certain contributions in specific relation to high income earners; introduced on 20 August 1996 and abolished in July 2005. Surcharge debts for this period are recorded on member accounts and, if not paid during membership, must be paid when their benefit is claimed

Superannuation lump sum

Previously known as an Eligible Termination Payment (ETP), this payment consists of two components – tax-free and taxable 

Superannuation salary

Your basic salary plus any recognised allowances; additional payments such as overtime, accommodation or travel are not counted; your ‘super salary’ is the basis for your basic contribution rate

Supplementary contributions




TBC – Personal contributions in excess of the compulsory 5%

Switching fees

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A switching fee is a fee to recover the costs of switching all or part of a member’s interest in the superannuation entity from one class of beneficial interest in the entity to another.



Taxable component

Benefit component including concessional contributions made since 1 July 1983; may contain taxed and untaxed elements

Taxed element

Benefit component consisting of post-June 1990 productivity member contributions, super co-contribution amounts and transfers from other funds; this component was previously known as ‘funded’

Tax-free component

Benefit component that may include contributions made before 1 July 1983, non-concessional contributions made since 1 July 1983 and post-June 1994 invalidity amounts

Tax offset

Reduction in tax liability; often a tax offset is described as a percentage, for example, an offset of 10% to a pension; offsets differ from tax deductions, which reduce your taxable income

Terminal illness

Australian Taxation Office definition – a payee will be taken to be terminally ill if it is certified by two medical practitioners (at least one being a specialist) that they suffer an illness which in the normal course would result in death within a period of 12 months

Top marginal tax rate (MTR)

Highest income tax rate

Total and permanent incapacity

If you suffer a physical or mental condition resulting in you being unlikely to work permanently ever again in a job for which you are reasonably qualified by education, training or experience or could be so qualified after retraining

Transfer value

Choose to preserve your benefit in CSS, and, within three months join another eligible superannuation scheme, a transfer value can be paid into that scheme in return for benefits in that scheme



Unallocated earnings

Previously related to notional fund earnings applied to a member’s account from 30 June 2003 to 30 June 2007; from 1 July 2007, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (ARIA before 1 July 2011) has allocated fund earnings to reflect actual investment performance; these earnings may be positive or negative

Unlisted pooled property trust

Investment structure whereby multiple investors commit funds to a pooled trust, which purchases and manages direct interests in property

Untaxed element


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Your employer component and any pre-July 1990 productivity contributions; previously referred to as ‘unfunded’