How to find lost super: A comprehensive guide
With so many things to keep track of in our everyday lives, it’s easy to forget that you could have some lost superannuation sitting in an old fund you don’t use anymore.
Having a few super funds means that you’re potentially paying more fees than you need to. By finding any lost or unclaimed super you can consolidate your money and save more for your retirement.
What is lost super?
When you make a change, say to your name, address or job, it's possible to lose track of some of your super - or for your super fund to lose track of you!
According to the ATO, super funds currently hold $10.4 billion dollars in lost super.
If you’ve lost super, it generally means that your member account has been inactive. An inactive account refers to a balance lower than $6,000 and no contributions made to the super fund in 16 months - whether by an employer or yourself. Or it might be that there’s been no transfers into, or out of your account.
How does super become lost?
Super can become lost due to a number of reasons. Some of them may include changes to your circumstances, such as:
- Getting a new job. Maybe you’ve changed jobs and your employer pays the super into a different fund. If you haven’t taken the steps to rollover the fund, you could have lost super.
- Moving homes. If you’ve forgotten to update your contact details after having a change of address for instance, your superannuation provider may not be able to get in touch with you.
- Name change. Taking on the last name of your spouse or changing your name means that your account might be under a different name. When this happens, your super fund could have trouble reaching you.
What happens to lost super?
Your super fund reports lost super to the ATO twice a year. It usually holds your super for you until they’re able to contact you. If an account is inactive and the super fund doesn’t have enough information to make payments, they may have to transfer your money to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Here are some other examples of when super is passed onto the ATO and becomes unclaimed super:
- The amount in your superannuation fund isn’t greater than $6,000 and you’re considered a lost member.
- Your super fund hasn’t been able to contact you in 5 years, no contributions were made in 2 years, and you’re 65 or older.
- As a temporary Australian resident, your visa is no longer valid or you’ve been out of the country for more than 6 months.
If your super is ATO-held, you could have two options depending on your situation:
- Transfer your super into a nominated and active fund.
- Withdraw your super if you’re eligible and meet certain requirements, like being 65 years old or older.
Difference between lost super and unclaimed super
There’s a notable difference between lost super and unclaimed super. You can usually claim lost super direct from your fund because the money is sitting there in an account. You’re a lost member because the super fund hasn’t been able to contact you.
If your fund is required to transfer your money over to the ATO, lost super then becomes unclaimed.
Rules for claiming lost and unclaimed super
When it comes to claiming super and having the money transferred into a nominated fund, there are some things to be mindful of. Namely, that your account must be an eligible and active super fund to receive unclaimed super. An eligible and active super fund might be:
- A super fund in its accumulation phase
- A super fund that accepts government rollovers
- A super fund that has received a contribution in the last two financial years.
So you can decide to make your account active again, or choose to rollover the money into a new superannuation fund. Alternatively, you can also request the money be transferred into a nominated super fund if the super is ATO-held.
Finding your lost super
To find lost or unclaimed super, you might first try contacting your last known super fund. Some providers will also have tools that can help you figure out whether you have an account with them, or how much your balance is.
But there are also other ways to check for lost or unclaimed super. Here are some options you can take:
- Filling in a lost super application form. If you decide to go down this route, you will have to mail your application to the ATO.
- Using your MyGov account. By linking this account to the ATO, you can check to see whether you have any lost super online. It should pop up with all of the funds in your name and those that are ATO-held.
- Calling the lost super search line at 13 28 65.
Steps for claiming lost super
After finding lost or unclaimed super, there are some steps you can carry out to reclaim your money. Here’s what you might try:
Step 1: Gather key information. You will need to provide some information to the ATO or your super fund provider to claim super. So it’s best to gather these details before starting your lost super application as you could be asked to provide your:
- Personal details. This can include your full name, date of birth, address, TFN, and phone number. If you have changed your name or residential address over the years, your super fund or the ATO could also request this information from you.
- Super fund details. To locate your fund you might need to give your account details to the ATO or your super provider. So you will need to inform them of things like your fund name, account number, who your beneficiaries are, and when contributions were made.
Step 2: Complete your lost super application. With your details in hand, you can now fill out your application and lodge it with either your super fund or the ATO.
Once your application has been submitted, it can take up to 6 months before your super appears on your myGov account if it’s a new fund.
Consolidating or transferring your super
When reuniting with lost super, you might be debating whether to make your account active again or if it’s in your best interest to rollover your money into a single super fund.
Consolidating your super can be a good option as keeping all of your money in one place might make for easier fund management. Plus, there is the possibility of paying less fees overall.
The potential downside is that the insurance benefits you have with one super fund might not necessarily be the same in another, so it’s worth thinking about what will be the most beneficial long-term super strategy for you.
Ultimately, checking out whether you have any lost or unclaimed super is useful because every dollar towards your nest egg could have an impact on how much you’re able to retire with.
If you’re interested in learning more about super topics, why not head to our superannuation guides hub to find out more!
Finding lost super FAQs
How do I find a deceased person’s lost super?
To find a deceased person’s lost super, you might contact the ATO to track down their super provider. After obtaining this information, you could get in touch with the fund and produce copies of the person’s death certificate to potentially access their super if you’re a beneficiary.
Can I claim lost super early?
Claiming lost super early is possible and tax-free if your account balance is under $200. However, if you haven’t reached the super preservation age, you will need to rollover the money into a new super fund.
Does rolling over super close the account?
A complete rollover of your super means that your account will be closed. If you’re able to and choose to transfer the entirety of your fund into another superannuation fund, you might do this through your myGov account, or by mailing in your application.
What is a lost member?
A ‘lost member’ is someone who hasn’t had any activity on their account over the last 12 months, and where a super fund has been unable to contact them. Super providers will sometimes pass on these lost member accounts to another super fund.