Why Track Down Your Lost Superannuation?
If you and your partner both work, the chances are one of you has lost superannuation. That’s because it is estimated that one in two Australian workers has lost super at some time in their careers, resulting in almost 19 billion dollars now sitting in unclaimed accounts.
The ATO’s definition of ‘lost’ is a super account that hasn’t received any contributions for two years and is linked to an address where mail has been returned unanswered on two occasions.
The main reason superannuation gets lost is because your super fund is unable to contact you. This can be because you changed your name, got married, moved to another address without leaving a forwarding address or changed jobs without notifying your super fund.
During a normal career, people change jobs a number of times, particularly when they first enter the workforce, so the chances of losing track of some super amounts along the way are pretty high.
“So why should I go to all the trouble of tracking it down?”, I hear you say. “If it’s only a small amount, why bother?”
Well, because it may not be a small amount. It may be several thousand dollars or more and it has likely been earning interest over time.
The longer you wait, the more likely it will go on attracting fees and commissions and, because you aren’t making contributions any more, it will slowly start to be whittled away.
Say you have super in three different accounts (two of them lost). If each of them is attracting an account-keeping fee of $80 a year, you’re paying a total of $240, which is $160 a year more than you need to.
By rolling the other two amounts into your current super, whether it’s in a managed fund or an smsf (self-managed super fund), you’ll pay one administration fee, earn more interest and increase your retirement fund much faster. A larger account balance can also mean lower fees and charges.
Contrary to popular belief, finding lost super is not that hard. There are several free services available, including:
- SuperSeeker on the ATO’s website (ato.gov.au/super). This is a free search for unclaimed super. All you need is your name, date of birth and tax file number to search the Lost Members Register, the Superannuation Holding Accounts Reserve and the Superannuation Guarantee records.
- Contact the ATO’s Lost Members Register on 13 10 20.
- A free search offered by Ausfund, an eligible rollover fund, requiring only name and date of birth (unclaimedsuper.com.au).
- If you draw a blank there, you could also consider contacting Australia’s 15 other eligible rollover funds. They are often holding amounts that were lost before tax file numbers became tied to superannuation accounts.
Getting a nest egg together is hard enough these days without having small amounts scattered around all over the place. Whether you have a self-managed super fund or use a superannuation provider, consolidating your savings into one lump sum will make it grow faster and mean more money for you in retirement.