According to recent data released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) there is $17.5 billion worth of lost and unclaimed superannuation money to be claimed.
Superannuation is much more than a nest egg to fund your retirement years. It represents decades of your work, along with all the hope that goes with it. Super is also a promise of financial support in your later years.
Clearly, many of you haven’t kept up with rolling over all your superannuation funds into your current fund. You and your family might still have wealth waiting for you to claim. We’re going to show you some ways to find those golden eggs!
Let’s start with understanding how super gets lost or is unclaimed in the first place.
Lost and unclaimed super: what’s the difference?
Unclaimed super is when smaller superannuation accounts haven’t received a contribution for at least a year. Superannuation fund manager then must transfer these ‘unclaimed monies’ over to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). These small bundles of superannuation funds owing to you are there waiting for you to claim it.
An example of where you may have unclaimed super waiting for you is when you worked for an employer for a short moment in time. Perhaps you forgot to roll over your superannuation balance into your next fund.
Lost super is simply superannuation held in a fund that hasn’t been able to get in touch with you. Often superannuation fund managers will transfer these inactive accounts to AUSfund. AUSfund then hold these monies until they are claimed. You can search for lost or unclaimed super via AUSfund Search for super.
Here are some reasons you may have claim to some super. You’ve changed:
- and moved house at some stage in your life
- your name, for example from your maiden to married surname
- contact details such as your phone number or email address
- your duration of extended leave because of serious health or injury; or an unpaid holiday
Your superannuation can easily go unclaimed. Super paperwork is like so many things addressed to us when we’ve relocated: mail is sent and calls are made, but they never hear back from you because your contact details have changed.
Unclaimed super gets slowly handed from your superannuation fund to the ATO. A fund must declare super as unclaimed twice a year. That’s when the fund manager hands these monies across to the ATO to hold on your behalf.
In many cases lost super ends up held on your behalf by a State government agency. Even then, it’s recognised to be unclaimed and you can take it back. The money is never permanently gone.
How lost or unclaimed super is discovered
Discovering unclaimed super can be like finding $2,000 in your pocket one day. Sure, you earned it and it was always yours, but finding it feels fantastic.
Unclaimed or lost superannuation money can also come from those close to us. For example, when sorting out a deceased loved one’s estate. In this way, unclaimed super can be a healing source of closure too.
So how can we proactively cash in on our own money?!
Find your lost or unclaimed superannuation online
Chores are a mouse click away now. The upside of that is you can find any lost or unclaimed super without leaving your desk, or your living room.
There are many financial service providers that offer a lost or unclaimed super search as part of their services. Always be aware that when using a financial services professional, you will be charged fees for service. Ensure that the provider you use is a licensed and experienced financial services adviser.
Sort My Super is one website that allows a free search of Australia’s super database. Other services are offered for a fee such as consolidating super into another account or helping you claim lost or unclaimed monies.
There’s a whole industry of online super finding sites. Please take caution, these are your lost or unclaimed monies for the taking after all.
DIY: Find and claim your lost or unclaimed superannuation yourself
There are several government sites that help claimants find and recover their lost super. Start your search by going to the Australian government’s my.gov.au:
- Follow the instructions to create an account if you haven’t already.
- Log in to my.gov.au
- You’ll see an option that states ‘Link another service’. Link the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to your myGov account and follow them. This lets you use ATO services online.
- Go to the section labelled ‘Super’.
You’ll be able to view all your superannuation accounts and any super that the ATO is holding for you.
This government site may be one of the safer online options as it offers two-factor authentication or identification. This is like having two locks on the door to your government accounts, so that the website is extra sure it’s you. How it works is that once you enter your password, you’ll receive a six-digit code on your mobile phone. This is a second layer of personal identification security. You may also be prompted for a secret question you’ve pre-answered. If you type the correct answer, you’ll have access to all the available data about you held on these government databases.
Now that you’re online securely, you’ll be able to view and claim any lost or unclaimed super owing to you.
For more detailed information and instructions visit ato.gov.au/checkyoursuper.
AUSfund offers a search feature where you can enter your Tax File Number (TFN) and find out what you’re worth in lost or unclaimed super.
Hire someone to find and claim your lost or unclaimed superannuation on your behalf
If you want to take your hands off the wheel and let a professional fix everything, an experienced and licensed financial advisor (a wealth manager) will be able to help.
This is akin to outsourcing professional help to get it sorted professionally, and smoothly.
A wealth manager can answer your questions about insurance related matters when it comes to your lost or unclaimed super. This is important, as your insurances may not be once your super has been handed across to the ATO.
I’m confident I have all my super
It’s still useful to check whether you have more than one super account. Each super fund costs your fees. Make sure you consolidate your superannuation funds in the most cost-effective way when it comes to fees.
As the economic climate gets more challenging, it can help to uncover additional funds — and pay a little less in fees. Checking for your unclaimed super might be the easiest $6,000 you ever made!
Sources and helpful information
ASIC Money Smart > Keeping track & lost super
ATO > Individuals > Keeping track of your super
ATO > Media release > Check now for your share of $17.5 billion of super
Industry Super Funds > Find lost or unclaimed super
AUSfund > Search for super