WIDESPREAD job losses and the economic impact of the pandemic has resulted in 2.7 million Aussies applying to access their superannuation funds early.
With recent ATO data revealing there is $17.5 billion in unclaimed superannuation out there, Aussies
may have hundreds of dollars in lost super accounts without even realising.
Specifically, an average of $745 per Australian is lost in super, with approximately 40 per cent of active super holders having more than one account.
How does superannuation money go missing?
If you have held numerous jobs over the years, you are more likely to have lost money in various super funds as the concept of supplying your ‘preferred super fund’ only became commonplace in recent years.
As a result, each employer may have signed you up to a new super fund at the start of your employment.
Changing occupation or address can cause issues when old super funds try to contact account holders.
If you have signed up to a new super fund, the lack of deposits in the old account can result in it being deemed ‘inactive’, which can lead to reoccurring fees diminishing the balance over time.
This means your hard-earned money could slowly deplete to nothing if you do not take the time to consolidate your balance into one super fund.
There are four ways to retrieve your lost super and consolidate it into a single super fund to avoid fees,
charges and diminishing balances over time.
However, it is important to understand that various insurances – such as life and income – may be linked to your superannuation, so check your insurances first as you may lose it when you consolidate.
I advise you always seek professional advice first before rolling over any non-lost superannuation.
■ Using MyGov
One way to consolidate your super is by using the Australian Government online services – my.gov.au.
You can set up an account in just a few minutes, which will give you access to your Australian Taxation
Office (ATO) records that include a list of your super accounts and their respective balances.
Within the MyGov website, you can also opt to consolidate your super into one account in just a few clicks.
■ Using AUSFund
Another method for finding your old super is through ausfund.com.au, a special type of super fund that looks after accounts transferred from other super funds.
When your previous super fund is unable to contact you - or deems you inactive — they transfer your remaining balance into AUSFund, which invests your super on your behalf to deliver a competitive return with medium risk.
There is also an online search function to claim lost super balances.
Be sure to search for variations of your name to ensure you find everything you are entitled to.
■ Using SuperMatch
Most super funds offer a personalised ‘lost super search’ on your behalf known as SuperMatch.
It is as simple as contacting the super fund you intend to use going forward and asking them to help you locate any lost funds.
If you find lost super via MyGov or AUSFund, your existing super fund can also help retrieve that money on your behalf if you point them in the right direction.
■ Using the manual ATO form method
For those of you who are a little bit old school, you can print and submit an ATO Lost Super form to have the ATO search the database further for you.
This form will query the ‘lost members register’ and ‘unclaimed money register’ to locate any funds that have gone awry over the years.
At a time when the country is in a recession and consumers are doing it tough, every bit of money counts – particularly money you’ve earnt and is rightfully yours.
Time spent consolidating your super funds now, can mean more money to use down the track during retirement.
About Helen Baker
Helen Baker is a financial advisor, author, speaker and spokesperson for online finance information platform money.com.au.
Helen has a passion for empowering Aussies to find financial freedom through strategic planning and goals-based financial advice.
She has worked as a qualified financial adviser since 2009 and was a finalist in both the Financial Planner/Advisor of the Year and Women’s Community Program of the Year categories in 2017.
For more information, visit money.com.au.