Lost track of your super? Don’t panic – it’s more common than you think
Getting your money back isn't as complicated as you might think. Here's how to track down your lost super and what to do next.
Don't beat yourself up if you've lost track of your super. Plenty of us do it. In fact, as of June 2020, there were more than 2.2 million lost or unclaimed super accounts across Australia.
If you think that's a lot, wait until you hear this. Those super accounts hold a combined total of $13.8 billion. That's an average of around $6,000 per account – and one of them could be yours.
Don't worry though. We've partnered with Sunsuper to bring you an easy-to-understand guide on lost and unclaimed super, including how you can track it down and get it back.
Understanding the difference
You might have heard the phrase "lost or unclaimed super" at some point. While they're often bundled together, lost and unclaimed super are actually two different problems.
Lost super refers to super accounts that are inactive, haven't received contributions in a while or where the accaount holder can't be contacted.
You can read more about the nitty-gritty of lost super here but, basically, it happens when you forget your super account ever existed. Maybe you opened it when you started a job, but you were only there for a few months and forgot about it.
It happens. In fact, it happens a lot. As of June 2020, there were 400,060 lost super accounts.
On the other hand, unclaimed super refers to super that is eligible to be withdrawn but the fund hasn't been able to contact the account holder. So that could be members over the age of 65, non-member spouses, deceased members and former temporary residents.
Unclaimed super accounts are even more common than lost super accounts. As of June 2020, there were 1.82 million unclaimed super accounts.
So how do you find yours?
The easiest way to find lost super is online via myGov. Go to the myGov website, log in or create an account, link your myGov account to the ATO and then select super.
Once you've done this, you'll be able to see details of all your super accounts, including any that you've lost or forgotten. You'll also be able to find any ATO-held super, which is held on your behalf when your super fund can't find you.
What do you do next?
The next step is to consolidate your super accounts. When you hold multiple super accounts, you're paying multiple fees and it's eating into your overall balance.
To consolidate your super accounts, you need to figure out which one is best for you and move all your money over to that one. To do this, you need to look at a few different factors, including a fund's performance over different time periods, its fee structure, its investment decisions and any insurance benefits that may be lost.
For example, according to data and analytics provider Chant West, the median growth super fund returned 18% for the year ending 30 June 2021. Growth funds are those made up of 61-80% growth assets, such as shares. The majority of us have our super in growth funds.
However, it is possible to find funds that outperform the industry average. For example, Sunsuper Balanced returned 20.7% over the same time period.
Fees are equally as important to look at. Higher fees quickly erode your super balance, particularly if you don't have much in there. According to SuperRatings, the industry average for fees on an account with a $5,000 balance is $154.
There are cheaper options out there though. Again, using Sunsuper's balanced option as an example, its fees would only be $126 a year for an account with a $5,000 balance.
Do you have to keep checking?
Technically, no. From November this year, you'll be stapled to your existing super account. That means you won't collect super accounts as you switch from job to job (unless you really want to).
The aim is to drastically reduce the number of lost super accounts. So if you consolidate your accounts now, and stick to your chosen one, you'll never have to check for lost super again.
Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't regularly check the performance of your fund or adjust your investment strategy. Typically, a higher-risk strategy is great when we're young and a lower-risk strategy is better suited for when we're close to retirement.
If you don't feel confident managing your own investment journey, you can let your super fund do it for you. In some cases, super funds will adjust your investment portfolio to match your age.
For example, Sunsuper's MySuper Lifecycle option reduces investment risk by transitioning members to more conservative strategies as they get older, with investments gradually switched from the Balanced Pool to the Retirement and Cash Pools from age 55 to 65.
Sunsuper also offers its members the ability to access expert financial advice about their Sunsuper account with a qualified adviser, so if you can get tailored guidance to help you meet your retirement goals. Nice.
Consolidate your super with Sunsuper
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.