Aussies missing out on lost superannuation



Australians are billions of dollars out of pocket because of a sharp increase in the number of unclaimed superannuation accounts.


One in every five super accounts has no owner, leaving fund members $18.2 billion short of money that is theirs, according to new figures released by the Australian Taxation Office. The results showed the number of unclaimed accounts rose by more than 1 million in just 12 months.


It increased from 2.74 million unclaimed accounts at December 31, 2012 to 3.88 million at the end of last year.


Unclaimed super is now worth more than $2.21 billion — an increase from $959 million. SuperRatings chairman Jeff Bresnahan said plenty of work was being done within the super industry to clean up the giant database of lingering accounts but said there was still a long way to go.


“Over 20 per cent of all accounts are deemed to have no owner,’’ he said. “Hopefully when the ATO gets its SuperSeeker site working really well people will as a matter of course go through that course to identify their lost super. “The industry has clearly identified this as a problem area … it’s no-one’s benefit to have that money sitting there with the ATO.”


The SuperSeeker site — an online tool to help reconnect Australians with their missing nest eggs — was upgraded recently and caused significant delays with the processing of unclaimed money. Unclaimed super is when the member meets eligibility requirements to withdraw the money but the super fund cannot contact them.


Lost super sits in accounts and belongs to people who have changed their name, address or job and cannot be found by their fund. The threshold to collect lost and inactive super increased from $200 to $2000 last year and widened the sweep of funds the ATO could collect and hold on to resulting in the spike in unclaimed super accounts.


The value of lost accounts sits at $15.9 billion and the number of lost accounts significantly dropped from 3.5 million at the end of 2012 to 1.91 million. The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ chief executive officer Tom Garcia said the amount of lost and unclaimed was a huge worry.


“It’s a concern that there’s still almost $18 billion sitting here,’’ he said. “We need to do more to encourage to have a look at the SuperSeeker site and ring up their funds and try and work out if they have money sitting there.”


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