How serious is it if you lose track of your super fund? What are the implications of this loss?
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- How serious is it if you lose track of your super fund? What are the implications of this loss?
- How Does One’s Super Go Missing?
- Reasons to Find Your Super
- Lost Super vs. Unclaimed Super
- Who Are the People Who Lose Their Super?
- People Who Can Have Unclaimed Super
- Transferring Super Accounts to the ATO
- How to Start Searching for Your Lost Super
- Online Using myGov
- Claiming Your Super
- Consolidating Super Accounts: The Pros and Cons
- Ways of Consolidating Super
- Keeping Track of Your Super
The idea of losing a super fund might seem frightening, especially if you’re nearing retirement.
Superannuation funds are a critical tool for retirement planning. You might wonder if losing your super is a temporary or permanent situation and whether a lost fund and unclaimed super fund are the same.
This article will provide information about how supers get lost, who loses them, and how to find them. You’ll also learn about tracking and consolidating super funds for better retirement planning.
How Does One’s Super Go Missing?
In Australia, superannuation or “super” allows workers to save for retirement through an employer or personal contributions.
MySuper refers to 2012 legislation in which the Australian government allowed for default superannuation products known as “MySuper.”
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently reported that over $13.8 billion in super was lost during the financial year ending in June 2020.
People often lose track of a super fund when they change jobs. For example, they might forget to carry over any contributions from a previous job.
Another possibility is that your phone number or address changed, and you didn’t supply the new contact information to your super providers.
A company will keep your super money but also report you to the ATO as a lost member in particular situations:
- The ATO cannot contact you
- Your account has received no contributions or rollover during the past five years
- A transferred account has no address
Reasons to Find Your Super
If you have a super account that’s lost or ATO-held, you could reclaim it.
In terms of income streams, your fund might have been earning interest. This situation could affect post-retirement treatments for a permanent disability.
You might also lose the benefits of funds not transferred to the ATO.
Lost Super vs. Unclaimed Super
Lost Super generally occurs when you have lost contact with your super fund. Your super is generally considered ‘lost’ when your account is idle (ie. no contributions for 16 months). If you’ve lost your super, the super fund will hold the super money.
It could then report you to the ATO as one of the members with lost accounts. It then becomes Unclaimed Super when the super fund transfers Lost Super to the ATO. This happens twice a year.
Typically, these situations arise because an individual is under one of the following circumstances:
- Above 65 years old, uncontactable, and with no contributions for the past five years
- Deceased and fund’s rightful owner cannot be paid
- Former Australian resident that has left the country for more than six months
- An individual is entitled to an ex-spouse’s super after a divorce
- A lost member with an account balance under $6,000
- A lost member with an inactive account for 12 months
Who Are the People Who Lose Their Super?
You could have lost super if:
- A super fund provider has been unable to contact you
- Your account has received no contributions or rollover during the past five years
- The account was transferred as a lost member account from another fund, and the new address was not found
- The ATO records reported lost members, but the super fund holds the money
People Who Can Have Unclaimed Super
The ATO might hold unclaimed money on behalf of the following types of people:
- Members over 65 years old
- Non-member spouse
- Deceased member
- A former temporary resident of Australia
- Lost members
- Members with inactive or low balance accounts
Transferring Super Accounts to the ATO
Super fund providers pay any super money from supers to the ATO.
In some cases, states and territories must pay unclaimed superannuation money of public service super schemes to the government. These states must report the funds to the ATO as unclaimed.
You can use your myGov account to see any of your super money that the ATO is holding.
How to Start Searching for Your Lost Super
Here are some ways to search for lost super:
Online Using myGov
Sign in to your myGov account connected to the ATO. Then click on “Manage my super”. You can register for ATO’s online services.
Phoning ATO’s Lost Super Search Line
Agents and individuals can conduct a super search by phone through the ATO’s automated super search line on 13 28 65.
You’ll be required to provide the following information upon request:
- Date of birth
- Postal address
- Daytime phone number
- Email address
- Super fund details
- Super fund name
- Super fund account number
- Period of contributions
- Tax file number (TFN)
- Visa holder status
You can download and complete a paper form. Afterwards, you must mail it to the ATO.
Claiming Your Super
If you want to search for your unclaimed super, you can use your myGov account to find it or contact the ATO.
Your current super fund must contain your tax file number (TFN). Through this number, you can stay connected to your super.
Before you consolidate your super funds, ensure income protection by learning if other super funds have any withdrawal fees.
Compare the costs, benefits, and risks of your super funds.
When seeking professional financial advice look for financial advisers with an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) and companies with an Australian business number (ABN).
Take time to read all product disclosure statements and disclaimers.
Consolidating Super Accounts: The Pros and Cons
If you only have one super account you’ll only have one set of fees. This situation could save you hundreds of dollars every year and boost your retirement savings.
It’s also easier to track one super fund since there are fewer administrative concerns and less paperwork.
When conducting a super search while consolidating your accounts, you might find lost super money you didn’t realise you had.
A single self-managed super fund (SMSF) can make it easier to manage a personal investment strategy that meets your goals and situation.
Your super accounts could charge withdrawal or exit fees.
Based on your situation, super consolidation could involve tax implications, like the age pension.
You might also lose some benefits and features from other super accounts you have when you consolidate your super, such as insurance cover.
Ways of Consolidating Super
If you know another fund has your super, and you have the fund’s super statement, you can consolidate your super by taking these steps:
- Link myGov account to the ATO
- Select “Super” then “Manage”
- Select “Transfer super”
- Select the super fund to transfer the funds to
A new category of money that super funds must report to the ATO is related to inactive low-balance accounts. They must report the super balances based on these rules:
- The account balance is under $6,000
- The account is not a benefit account
- The account has no insurance
- The account is not in an SMSF or Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund
- No contributions were made to the account during the past 16 months
- Not meeting a required condition of release
Keeping Track of Your Super
This process includes remaining informed about:
- The amount of super you’re getting paid
- The number of super accounts you have
- Insurance bundled with your super
If you have a lost super, you might be losing interest because of your superannuation account. You could also consider investment options like super consolidation. Your first step is to find out how to optimise your super accounts.
Need any assistance finding or consolidating your super? Request a call from our financial experts now!
The more we do to maximise and grow your super today, the more financial freedom you’ll have in years to come find out how a financial planner or adviser can help you with this and moreTrack your Super
1. Find lost super
2. Searching for lost super
3. Keeping track of your super
4. Consolidating your super
5. Unclaimed superannuation money protocol
6. Inactive low balance super accounts