Top Tips and Traps within the Public Servant Schemes

At CIVIC Financial Planning, we pride ourselves on delivering high quality, award winning advice, particularly for those employed by, or formerly employed by the Australian Public Service. Our Senior Financial Advisers highlight the top tips and traps that are commonly found within this sector, and how they may affect you and your financial situation.

Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS)

The following tips and traps are specific to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme.


  1. Try to maximise the salary just before retirement. Benefits are on exit salary (unless your superannuation salary is higher). It’s a good idea to aim to retire after a birthday and salary increase to maximise these benefits.
  2. Check the potential benefits if you resigned just prior to age 55 (we call 54/11/29), defer, and then claim the benefits at 55 years of age. At this period, a different method of calculation of the benefits applies that could result in much higher benefits for you, particularly in comparison to the normal retirement benefits available at age 55 years or later.


  1. Don’t contribute more than 5% pa in the superannuation fund. Contributions above 5% are classified as “supplementary contributions” and do not attract any extra employer benefits. In addition, the contributions to CSS are made from after tax salary which is not tax effective.
  2. Avoid the common pitfall of not preserving the total benefit in the superannuation fund upon resignation under retirement age.

Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS)

The following tips and traps are specific to the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme.


  1.  It is essential that you contribute as least 5% pa into the superannuation fund in order to achieve the standard employer benefit of 16% of salary. (.21 multiple). Failing to do so will attract a proportionally lower employer benefit.

  2.  It is also essential that you increase contributions to 10% into the fund after 10 years’ service, as the employer component will match the increase to 21% of salary (.31 multiple). Increased contributions after a qualifying period will also attract higher Death and Permanent Disability payments.

  3. Attractive conversion rates at retirement make the 100% Indexed Pension a very viable option.

  4. If increased insurance is required in the fund the employer pays half the premium.


  1. Avoid contributing less than 5% into the fund as it attracts a proportionally lower employer benefit.
  2. Not preserving the total benefit in the fund when resigning before retirement is also a common trap.  If the employee benefit is not preserved within the fund, there is no indexed pension option available at retirement.

With the range of options available, making sense of the tips and traps within the public servant-specific schemes can be a confusing and costly task. 
Speak to one of our expert CIVIC Financial Planning Advisers today to arrange a no obligation initial appointment.