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Staying on top of your future: How to find lost super

Having enough super is key to a great retirement. Your super balance when you finish working could mean the difference between living a fairly moderate lifestyle or the high life! One way to make the most of your super and give yourself the best chance of having enough is to keep track of it throughout your working life. Don’t feel bad – it’s not that hard to lose track of some of your super as you move from job to job. And if you have, you’re not alone – with $13.8 billion held in more than 2.2 million lost or unclaimed superannuation accounts across Australia as at 30 June 2020.1

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So, what can you do to track down super you might have lost throughout your working life? The good news is, there are ways you can recover it and help you get back on track for that retirement lifestyle you’re dreaming of. Here’s a quick overview of what exactly ‘lost super’ is, along with some useful steps to find and recover any lost or unclaimed super you may have.

Key takeaways:

  • Australians have over $13.8 billion in more than 2.2 million lost or unclaimed super accounts
  • There are three easy ways to track down lost or unclaimed super
  • Consolidating your super can help build your retirement nest egg

What is lost or unclaimed super?

You might be wondering how super goes missing in the first place. If you have a super account with a fund that can no longer contact you (because you’ve changed your contact details) or you have a low balance or haven’t made any contribution into your account for some time, the super fund will transfer your money to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) who hold it as ‘lost’ or ‘unclaimed’ super.

The most common way to lose your super is when you change jobs. If you’ve changed jobs multiple times throughout your career, you might now have a few super accounts, some of which you may have lost track of along the way. It’s easy to see how starting a new job and opting to use the new employer’s nominated super fund for your future super contributions, rather than electing for them to pay into your existing fund, can result in super getting ‘lost’.

As we’ve already said, lost super is all-too common. According to the ATO, there were more than 2.2 million lost and unclaimed superannuation accounts as at 30 June 2020, adding up to more than $13.8 billion in lost or unclaimed super money, including accounts that are inactive low-balance accounts.1


Lost super Australia

Why is it important to find lost super?

If you have lost or unclaimed super, it will be sitting with the ATO, where it is no longer growing above CPI2. And even if some of your super hasn’t made it to the ATO yet, if it’s with a fund you’ve forgotten about and are no longer engaged with, fees may be eating away at your balance. Neither are great options for your super balance in the long-term, which is why it makes sense to find and track down lost or unclaimed super and consider consolidating all your money into one account.

What happens to lost super?

A super fund will report you to the ATO as a lost member if they have been unable to contact you, they have not received any contributions or rollover amounts from you in the last five years, or if your account was transferred from another fund as a lost member account and no new address has been listed. The ATO keeps a register of reported lost members, but the super fund still holds your money.

Super funds are required to pay lost members’ account balances to the ATO if the account balance is less than $6,0002. These payments from funds to the ATO happen twice each year. The ATO then holds this money on the members’ behalf as unclaimed super.

How do I find my lost super or unclaimed super?

Thankfully, tracking down your lost and unclaimed super is simple, and from there you can decide whether you want to consolidate it into your main or active super account. The ATO outlines three main ways to go about it, including:

  • Online by logging in to myGov

    Once logged in, click on ‘Manage my super’. If you don’t have a myGov account, visit the ATO website to register.

  • By phoning the ATO’s Lost Super Search Line on 13 28 65

    You’ll be asked for some personal information, so it’s a good idea to have everything beforehand.

  • By completing a paper form on the ATO website.

Why should I consider consolidating my super?

There may be reasons for having more than one super account, but in general multiple super accounts could mean multiple fees, more paperwork and more of a chance of losing track of your money. That’s why consolidating your super into one account can be a smart choice. Not only could you be reunited with your lost and unclaimed super, but combining multiple accounts is an important step in growing your long-term super savings. It can also mean you stop paying multiple, unnecessary fees and with only one account to manage, you can feel on top of your super and your future.

Consolidating your super is easy with Australian Retirement Trust. There are just five simple steps to combine your super and you can do it all online using our member portal, Member Online. Visit our page on consolidating your super for more information.

1 ATO Lost and unclaimed super by postcode, March 2021; ATO Super data: multiple accounts, lost and unclaimed super, March 2021

2 ATO ATO held super, April 2021

Before joining Australian Retirement Trust, consider the potential loss of insurance and other benefits that you may have in your other funds. The information contained on this website is general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial circumstances or needs. You should consider your own objectives, financial circumstances and needs, before making a decision about the financial product. Also, think about where your future employer contributions will be paid. You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination before deciding whether to acquire, or continue to hold the product. For more information or financial advice from Australian Retirement Trust, call us on 13 11 84.

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