Preparing your retirement years with superannuation
Retirement is something that many people fail to consider when they are in their younger years but that neglect is usually something that they live to regret, as they find themselves struggling financially as they hit their retirement years simply because they failed to make provisions to ensure a secure and comfortable retirement. These days, more and more people are realising the importance of saving towards their retirement and a superannuation fund is one of the ways in which many people try to ensure that they will have the financial means to enjoy their golden years.
However, even those who have good intentions and do save towards their retirement with a super fund can run into problems, such as losing track of their super funds. There are a number of ways that you could lose your super fund, for example, changing your address, changing your job frequently or even changing your name. With everything we have going on in our lives it can be all too easy to lose track of some super funds but the good news is that there is a simple and effective way to trace your lost super funds as well as any unclaimed super.
What you should do to track your lost super
If you believe that you may have lost super, or even unclaimed super, you will find that the Australian Taxation Office may be able to help. The ATO keeps a register of people who have been reported as lost by their super funds, as well as a register of people who have been reported as having unclaimed super.
Remember, there is a difference between lost super and unclaimed super. Unclaimed super is where you have money that you can actually withdraw from your fund because you are eligible to do so but you cannot be contacted by the super fund. Lost super is not necessarily super than you can withdraw but is a super fund that you may simply have lost track of.
In either case, the Australian Taxation Office may be able to provide you with assistance and help you to track down lost super or claim any money that you are entitled to with unclaimed super. The way in which the taxation office helps those who are trying to track down their super funds is through the use of their specialist online tool, which is called the SuperSeeker.
How does the SuperSeeker work?
The SuperSeeker online search facility from the Australian Taxation Office is free to use, providing a fast, convenient and simple way for those with lost or unclaimed super to get the assistance that they need. When you use this search facility the ATO registers will be searched for lost or unclaimed super based on the details that you provide when you begin your search. The details that you will need if you plan to use the SuperSeeker facility include:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your tax file number
The SuperSeeker facility will use these details to search the registers to check whether you are on there as having lost or unclaimed super. If you are on the register, all accounts that are registered and which match the details that you have provided will be brought up so that you can see in an instant which lost or unclaimed super funds you have.
What you should do if you have lost super
If, after conducting a search using the SuperSeeker facility, you find that you do have lost super accounts there are a number of steps that you can take depending on your preferences and your eligibility. Super funds hold super that is listed as being lost, so if any lost super does come up in your name your options include:
- Making contact with the super fund to find out more about your lost super and to provide them with an update of your personal details
- Consolidating your various super accounts, which will not only make it easier to keep track of your super but can also help to reduce the amount that you pay out on fees and charges, so you could be considerably better off in the long run (these fees and charges can make a big difference to the benefit over time)
- Asking to withdraw the benefit from your fund if the balance is no greater than $200 and you meet the eligibility criteria
If your super is listed as being unclaimed as opposed to lose, the funds may have been transferred to the Australian Taxation Office. If this is the case, and you do find that you have unclaimed super, you can simply complete a simple claim form provided by SuperSeeker or you can make direct contact with the Australian Taxation Office to reclaim your money.