You could have thousands of dollars in lost or unclaimed super. Here’s how to find it and bring it home.
Your superannuation is one of the most important assets you own, providing the funds you need to enjoy a financially secure retirement. But if you’ve changed jobs or even moved house, you could have lost super out there somewhere just waiting to be claimed.
Keep reading to find out how to track down your lost and unclaimed super.
What is lost super?
Keeping track of your super isn’t always an easy task. If you’ve changed jobs, changed your name or address, or even done some casual or part-time work, there’s a chance you may have lost track of some of your super.
Lost super occurs when your super fund is unable to contact you about your account. This means that your account remains idle but annual fees will still be deducted from your balance.
Your super fund will also report you as a lost member if it has not received any contributions or rollover amounts from you in the last five years, or if your account was transferred over from another fund as a lost member account and your address still hasn’t been found.
What is unclaimed super?
The ATO may also be holding some unclaimed super for you. Unclaimed super is created when super funds transfer the balance of small, inactive accounts to the ATO, which then holds it on your behalf. To be considered inactive, an account must not have received a contribution for at least 12 months.
Twice a year, super funds must report and pay the following unclaimed super money to the ATO:
- Unclaimed super for a member 65 years or older, a non-member spouse or a deceased member
- Unclaimed super of former temporary residents
- Lost member accounts with balances of less than $6,000
- Lost member accounts which have been inactive for at least five years and which do not have enough records to ever be able to identify the account owner
How big is the problem?
How much lost and unclaimed super is out there? According to the ATO, at 30 June 2017 there were over 6.3 million lost and ATO-held super accounts with a combined total value of just under $18 billion. That’s an astonishing amount of money that could be used to help many Australians enjoy a more comfortable retirement.
How to search for lost super
To find your lost super, create a myGov online account and link it to the ATO. You’ll then be able to:
- View the details of all your super accounts, including any you may have lost track of
- Find lost super that you can rollover into a super account you choose
- Find any super the ATO is holding on your behalf
- Consolidate multiple super accounts into one account
If you don’t have a myGov account, a paper ‘Searching for lost super’ form is available for download from the ATO website.
Why track down lost and unclaimed super?
What’s the point of tracking down lost and unclaimed super? The most important thing to remember is that it’s your money, not the ATO’s, and it’s money you worked hard to accumulate. That money can help you pay for your retirement and see out your golden years in comfort, so why not claim what’s rightfully yours?
According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Retirement Standard, if you’re a single person aged around 65, to enjoy a modest lifestyle in retirement you’ll need an annual income of $24,270. If you want a comfortable lifestyle, that figure rises to $43,695 per year. By tracking down and claiming lost super, you could be one step closer to building the retirement savings balance you need.
Finally, we should also stress the importance of finding your lost super now rather than waiting a few months or even years to get onto it. Why? Fees. If you hold multiple super accounts you’ll also be paying fees on multiple super accounts. And when you consider that your fund could charge anywhere between 0.5 and 1% (or even higher) of your balance each year in fees, it quickly becomes clear that it’s best to sort the problem out sooner rather than later.
How to consolidate your super
Okay, you’ve used the ATO’s online tools to track down a couple of lost super accounts in your name, so what’s next? The best thing you can do is to consolidate all your super accounts into one account. Not only will this help you save on fees – you’ll only have to pay fees on one account instead of several – but it will also make it a lot easier to keep track of your super moving forward.
To consolidate your super, follow a few simple steps:
- Choose a fund. Consider the investment options, past performance and fees of a range of funds to decide which one is right for you.
- Don’t forget about insurance. Remember to consider the insurance cover provided by each fund and make sure you will still have adequate cover in place with whichever option you choose.
- Open an account. If you’ve decided to join a new super fund, you’ll need to apply for an account. However, you could also decide to use one of your existing accounts.
- Rollover super. You can rollover super from any surplus accounts through a myGov account linked to the ATO.
- Let your employer know. Make sure your employer has the correct details of your super account so that your contributions go to the right place.
How to keep track of your super
There’s also plenty you can do to ensure that you don’t end up with lost or unclaimed super in the first place, such as:
- Check your super statement. When your fund sends out your annual super statement, review all the information it contains to make sure it’s still correct. If there are any errors, for example, if you’ve changed your name and this is not reflected in the statement, contact your super fund and let them know.
- Choose a fund and stick with it. Many of us change jobs multiple times early in our careers, so it’s worth finding a super fund you like and then making sure each new employer pays contributions to the same fund. To do this, use the ‘Superannuation standard choice form’ to tell your employer of your choice of fund as soon as you start a new job.
- Update your details. If you’ve moved house or changed your name, remember to update the details on your super account. This way your fund will always be able to get in touch with you when needed.
- Make a contribution. How long has it been since your super account received a contribution? By making a small contribution every now and then, you could prevent your account being declared inactive.