Itís not news to most people that superannuation is a complicated matter. Competently managing a super fund is not something many have the time or energy to understand how to do. If this isnít stressful enough, the choices you make in managing your super today affect your retirement.Fortunately, there are a couple simple steps you can take to make sure youíre maximizing your nest egg. One is getting back your lost super.
It is more common than ever before for people to change jobs and addresses and with all the hassles that come with doing either, you may forget or not realize that your superannuation doesnít automatically move with you. Your employer contributes to your superannuation, an amount that is based on but separate from your salary or wage, placing it in a privately managed fund. Thanks to changes in the law, most employers allow their employees to invest in one of their choice, though some employers have a preferred super fund they refer on to their workers. All super funds carry ongoing investment and administrative fees that are deducted from your fund account. Even after no further money is added to your super from changing jobs, you will still incur those fees.
Unless you arenít consolidating your superannuation for a specific purpose, the funds are considered lost by the Australian Taxation Office after two years of inactivity.The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) stated on their website that as of November 2008 The Treasuryís data indicates there are 6.4 million accounts totaling $12.9 billion in lost super accounts. These startling figures show how common it is for Australians to lose track of this money and that lost super in Australia is an increasing issue. Itís possible there are superannuation funds, perhaps from a temporary job or a position you held as a teenager, that youíve forgotten about or thought are no longer relevant or lost.
Thankfully, recovering your lost super is a relatively painless process. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has set up the SuperSeeker tool to help you track down your lost or unclaimed money. All you need is your full name, your tax file number, and your date of birth.
If you believe you have unclaimed or lost superannuation money and SuperSeeker retrieves no information for you, it is possible your funds have been rolled over into an Eligible Rollover Fund (ERF). This webpage on the APRA website is a list of all ERFs in Australia and their contact details. If you believe you may have as little as a few hundred dollars in a lost super account, itís probably worth chasing up.
Once youíve tracked down your lost super funds, you can save yourself from those pesky multiple fees and consolidate super.One way to do this is to contact your current superannuation fund for instructions. Keep the details of all your former superannuation funds in hand. Each super has its own process to consolidate super from your old accounts, but it usually involves filling in a transfer form and producing sufficient proof of identity. Some superfunds ask you to send the form to your former funds while others do the work for you. Sometimes your former funds will also send you a form once theyíve been contacted by your current one. Be sure to enquire whether transferring your funds from your old accounts will incur cancellation fees or the loss of benefits, like insurance.
Thankfully, you can also consolidate your lost super online. Another way to transfer your funds is by contacting the ATO.
By taking these two steps to chase up any lost super funds you may have, youíll not only be recovering money you worked hard to earn, but increasing the financial security of you and your family for the long term.