The Australian Government is currently holding an estimated $13bn in lost or unclaimed superannuation funds. So if you’re employed and have had more than one job then there’s a high likelihood that some of it is yours. Find out how to claim your ‘lost’ money today!
According to Peter Philip, chief executive officer of SuperChoice, Australians have on average three superannuation accounts each, and one in two of us has unclaimed super. That’s one-in-two odds of picking up some free money today – and in about the same amount of time it takes to scratch-and-win.
Do you know where your superannuation is?
If you’re under 70 and working full time, part time or casual, earning over $450 per month before tax, your employer is expected to make at least a 9% superannuation contribution on your behalf. Like a term deposit you can’t touch until you reach retirement age, superannuation is there to make sure you have enough money to have a comfortable retirement.
It’s easy to be apathetic about super: for most of us it falls a long way down the to-do list, somewhere after washing the dog and before writing a letter to your Aunt Jill! However, just because you can’t access the money now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest a little time in keeping track of it, as the choices you make today might mean the difference between having the lifestyle you want when you retire – or living on the poverty line.
So if you have money floating around in a sea of missing cash, being slowly eaten up by fees and charges, it really is worth spending a few minutes reeling it in.
Why it’s worth getting on top of your super:
As tempting as it is to do nothing and leave your hard-earned funds scattered around financial cyberspace, there are a couple of compelling reasons to consolidate your funds. It means you’ll be paying just one set of management and account keeping fees, instead of incurring fees for every account you hold (basic economy of scale).
You’ll be in control – it’s easy to monitor your returns when you have just one account. Then you can decide where you want to invest, switch, or easily direct funds from your employer into your preferred superannuation account.
Claim it or lose it!
In 2009 laws were introduced that allowed the Federal Government to begin transferring the contents of inactive or lost superannuation accounts in October 2010. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, the government will gain $10bn in consolidated revenue via these means.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer really. Would you prefer that cash to be in the government’s kitty? Or in your account, compounding away into spare cash for spoiling your future grandkids?
How to claim your missing super:
There are a few websites that will find your super for you in the click of a button. All you’ll need to know is your name, birth date and tax file number. To do a quick search to see if any of that $13bn belongs to you, visit http://www.unclaimedsuper.com.au and type in your name and birth date.
If you find a match you can then go to superseeker.super.ato.gov.au and enter your name, birth date and tax file number (TFN) to retrieve your account details. Once you have the account details, you can make a claim online, over the phone or via mail. It’s as easy as 1,2,3!
While you’re onto it, it’s probably also worthwhile putting a call through to any other existing super funds who you know you have some savings with. They should be able to tell you over the phone what your existing balance is, any fees and whether the account has been closed – or is still paying commissions for the management of trivial sums like 0.42 cents.
With those old account details it’s easy to roll them into your super fund of choice. Also, amounts less than $200 sitting in existing super accounts can also usually be cashed out without too much difficulty – just ask your super fund for the forms.
How do I consolidate it?
All funds will allow you to consolidate accounts, but before you consolidate your funds do be sure to double-check whether there are any exit fees or withdrawal fees you need to pay. Once you’ve decided which fund to go with (look out for more on how to choose a good super fund coming soon from Your Money Magazine) you can consolidate by downloading a rollover form and sending it to the requested address via post, with proof of identity. If you’re not as tech-savvy, you can always call for a rollover pack to be sent to your home.
Australia Post will soon be offering a free service that allows you to consolidate your superannuation funds through their shopfronts. A joint collaboration between Australia Post and SuperChoice, the ‘Consolidate My Super’ service will be available from January 2011. The process is as simple as completing a guided application online, getting your identity checked at an Australia Post outlet and submitting the lodgement.
Step-by-step: claiming and consolidating
- Pull together your super paperwork from previous jobs.
- Log onto superseeker.super.ato.gov.au with your name, birth date and TFN
- Download the claim form, fill it in and send the form to the fund
- Consolidate your accounts by downloading a rollover form and filling in the details of old accounts, and send that to your preferred fund
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