The questions that count

Do you have a secret fortune?

Feb 29, 2012

AustralianSuper’s James Coyle encourages workers to claim $18 billion in lost super.

Remember the part time job you had straight out of uni working in retail or the local pub – the one where your super went straight from your pay packet to an unknown super fund?

Years later, over numerous address changes and a few jobs later, that super is still lying dormant and waiting to be claimed. In fact. almost $19 billion of super is “lost”. That is, no activity has been recorded on it for five years or more and mail has been returned. That’s almost 40 per cent more than 2009

The increase may have something to do with the casualisation of the workforce — where people have numerous short term jobs and therefore super funds.

Either way, some people really have found a secret fortune. With the help of AustralianSuper, one worker was successfully reunited with almost $250,000 – another found 11 lost super accounts worth over $35,000.

Late last year industry fund, AustralianSuper, launched a campaign to help people find their lost super. And an online tool to make it easier to the 5.8 million lost super accounts.

“If you find lost super you’re better off in two ways – you boost your super savings and you save on multiple sets of fees,” says James Coyle from AustralianSuper. “This can make a bigger difference when you retire.”

AustralianSuper has found:

– Since November last year AustralianSuper has helped members find and transfer over $50 million of their lost super with an average amount over $7,200.
– The average age of people finding lost super is 45 with almost twice as many men finding lost super as women.

On average, people have more than one fund lying dormant being whittled away by administration fees. Although people have been encouraged to roll over for years it has always seemed too hard – especially when facing resistance from the dormant fund who can charge excessive fees for the privilege.

Now the ATO has made it simpler by establishing a website to allow people to search for themselves, using a few simple personal details (TFN, family and given names and date of birth). Check out SuperSeeker here.

James Coyle says Australians appear to be resistant to claiming all this money that belongs to them

“There is a perception being that it is difficult,’ Coyle says. “It is actually a simple three step process”

In any event, workers will be forced to consolidate their small super funds come 2014 when new government legislation comes into being. Small super accounts.with less than $1,000 in them and that have been inactive for five years or more, will be transferred into a worker’s active account.

The problem with “lost super” also highlights the disconnect the public has with its superannuation earnings – until the age of 40. This is the average age when people start to examine where their hard earned cash has gone but unfortunately, they may discover it is all too late in terms of planning for a financially sound retirement.  It also raises some interesting questions about our complacency when it comes to monitoring our super.

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