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If you’ve ever changed jobs, moved house or changed your name then chances are you could be owed a slice of billions in lost or unclaimed super across Australia.
Or perhaps you are aware you have super sitting in multiple accounts, but just never get around to sorting them out.
This is not just an administrative problem. If you have several super accounts it could mean you’re paying multiple fees, charges and insurance premiums, which may significantly reduce your overall retirement income.
Not only that, but if you’ve lost track of your super you have no way of telling if your money is invested in a good super fund or a lemon.
Whatever the reason, why leave money on the table when it’s a relatively quick and simple matter to claim what’s yours?
What is lost and unclaimed super?
Super funds must report ‘lost’ super to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) twice a year. The definition of lost includes situations where you are uncontactable at your current address and you have made no contributions or rollovers into the account for the past 12 months. Or where your account has been inactive, meaning it has received no contributions or rollovers, for five years.
Unclaimed super is different to lost super and refers to super that is eligible to be withdrawn but the fund has been unable to contact you. Unclaimed super can be the super of:
- Fund members aged over 65
- Non-member spouses
- Deceased members
- Former temporary residents.
The ATO is also proactively working to find people who are entitled to unclaimed super. In one case, a woman aged 68 was reunited with over $1.5 million that was unclaimed and that she had lost contact with.
How do I find my lost super accounts?
How to find your lost super is through the myGov website. According to the ATO, in the 12 months to June 2020 more than 663,000 accounts worth $6.9 billion were consolidated or transferred by fund members using myGov.
These numbers are likely to have fallen substantially since then due to the introduction of ‘stapling’. Since 1 November 2021, if you do not choose a super fund when you start a new job, your new employer will pay your SG contributions into your existing ‘stapled’ super account.
How to find your lost super
Time needed: 5 minutes
Follow the steps below to quickly and easily find and consolidate your lost superannuation accounts.
- Log in or create a myGov account
You can create an account at my.gov.au
- Link your myGov account to the ATO
Learn more about how to do that here.
- Select ‘Super’ then ‘Manage’ then ‘Transfer super’
If the ATO has a record of your super funds you can then find and choose to transfer your super to another account. If you don’t see an option for ‘Transfer super’ you do not have any accounts eligible for transfer.
- Select the lost super and select which fund to transfer it to
Before you choose which fund to transfer it to, you should check the details of each of your accounts to decide what fund best suits your needs and objectives. ASIC’s MoneySmart website suggests “When consolidating your super, don’t just choose the fund with the highest balance. The best fund for you may be one of your small accounts, or a completely new fund.”
If you don’t have access to online services, you can also track down your lost super by phoning the ATO directly on 13 28 65 or by completing a paper form.
Some super funds also have tools to help you track down your lost super.
If you still can’t find your lost super, it may be worth contacting the employer who made the super payments to see if they have any records of it. Your super fund may also be able to help you.
Once you’ve done this, make sure your super fund has your tax file number and your current address, so your super doesn’t go missing again.
Why is it important to find your lost or unclaimed super?
In a nutshell, because it’s your money. Even small amounts in a forgotten account dating back to your early 20s could grow to a substantial amount by the time you retire 40 years later.
According to the most recent figures available from the ATO, as at June 2020 there was $13.8 billion in lost or unclaimed super waiting to be claimed by ordinary Australians who may be blissfully unaware of its existence. Like the woman, aged 68, who was contacted by the ATO and reunited with over $1.5 million that she had lost touch with.
Not surprisingly, as Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales had the most and highest value of lost and unclaimed super with 123,967 accounts holding almost $3.5 billion in assets. Victoria and Queensland are not far behind, as the table below shows.
As the rate of consolidation increases, the average value of these lost and unclaimed accounts is falling. The ACT had the highest average value of lost and unclaimed accounts at $7,880, followed by South Australia ($6,460).
Lost and unclaimed super by state as at 30 June 2020
|Lost super accounts
|Unclaimed super accounts