Did you know that billions of dollars is sitting in lost super accounts waiting for Australians to claim the super cash?
If you change jobs regularly or you have had part-time jobs while at school or university, then it is highly likely that you have more than one super account. On average, every working Australian has three super accounts potentially costing them thousands of dollars over a working life. With very little effort, you can boost your main super account by potentially thousands of dollars by tracking down your lost super.
An extra incentive for finding your super accounts, is, if you don’t track down your lost super, it could end up in the bank account of the Federal Government – bye bye super!
If you have more than one super account then you are paying more than one set of fees on your retirement savings. By combining super accounts you can save tens of thousands of dollars in fees over your working life.
Finding your super accounts
Don’t worry if you haven’t kept track of your multiple accounts. It’s never too late, but you must locate your super accounts before you can combine them into one super account.
Your super fund/s sends you a statement each year reporting your account balance and fund returns. If you’re not receiving these statements and/or don’t know which super funds that you belong to, then you have access to plenty of services to help you find your lost accounts, and increase your super benefits instantly.
- SuperSeeker. Use the ATO’s SuperSeeker service which searches the Lost Members Register and other ATO records, such as unclaimed super money, for your lost super accounts. You can also use the phone service (13 28 65).
- AUSfund. Try AUSfund which looks after the lost super of millions of Australians for some of the largest super funds in Australia. If they have your super, they will find it for free.
- Current super fund. Ask your current super fund if they offer a service for finding your lost super.
- Previous employers. Ask your previous employers for the names of the super funds that received contributions on your behalf.
Consolidate super accounts
You can make a few thousand dollars without working too hard, by locating the details of your super accounts, and starting the process of combining your many accounts into one super fund.
Check that the super account you plan to keep charges reasonable fees. Paying an additional 1% in fees over a 30-year period can reduce your final super benefit by up to 20%. For information on what the different types of funds charge in fees see article Feeding frenzy: super fund fees.
Check whether the super funds that you choose to leave charge exit fees. You may decide to wait until exit fees no longer apply.
What type of lost super benefits can be transferred to the ATO?
Your super fund reports you as a lost member if the super fund:
- has not been able to contact you
- has not received any contributions or rollover amounts for you in the past five years, or
- received your super money after being transferred from another fund as a lost member account and no new address has been found.
In the three circumstances listed above, the ATO maintains a register of reported lost members but your super fund still retains your super money, except in two specific circumstances set out below.
Super funds are required to pay certain lost accounts as unclaimed superannuation money to the ATO. Since 1 July 2010, super funds must pay unclaimed superannuation money to the ATO where an account is held by a lost member and:
- the super account has a balance of less than $200 (small lost member accounts), or
- the fund has not received an amount in respect of the member within the past five years and the fund, given the information reasonably available, is satisfied that it will never be possible to pay an amount to the member (insoluble lost member accounts).
Individuals can reclaim their money from the ATO at any time and, can use SuperSeeker to search for unclaimed super.
Note: Super funds must also pay super accounts to the ATO as unclaimed superannuation money when:
- a member is aged 65 and the super fund has not received an amount on behalf of the member for more than 2 years, and the super fund has not been able to contact the member after the end of a period of five years, after making reasonable efforts to do so.
- a member dies, and there is a benefit immediately payable for the member, and the super fund has not received an amount on behalf of the member for more than 2 years, and the super fund is unable to locate the person entitled to the deceased member’s benefit.
- a non-member spouse, is entitled to be paid an amount from the super account as a result of a payment split and the super fund is unable to locate the spouse entitled to receive the benefit after making reasonable efforts and after a reasonable period has passed
- former temporary resident is the owner of the super account.