Billions of dollars are sitting in forgotten superannuation accounts nationwide, with the federal government urging Australians to claim their money back through a new tool from the tax office.
Workers in Sydney and north Queensland have the most to gain, according to new figures shared by superannuation minister Jane Hume, who said the government wants to “proactively” reunite people with their misplaced retirement savings.
“There remains about $13.8 billion in unclaimed super. I encourage all Australians to take a moment to login to the Australian Tax Office via MyGov, and check if it’s yours,” Senator Hume said.
New data from the ATO found billions in superannuation which had been left in old accounts owned by members who had lost contact with their fund, or let their account become inactive. This can happen when people change their name or personal details, move jobs, or don’t update account details.
The money sits in the accounts, being drained by fees, unless it is found and transferred to a new account by its owner.
Senator Hume said recent government reforms had seen the ATO proactively try to link people back up with their old accounts, pouring the cash into new super balances or into their bank. She said the government’s Protecting Your Super changes allowed the ATO to make such transfers without incurring any fees, and that 3.3 million accounts worth $4.3 billion had been linked back to their rightful owners between November 2019 and February 2021.
However, the Protecting Your Super changes also saw some super funds increase their fees at the time, due to higher administration costs. The changes also saw insurance become an opt-in for some super fund members.
Senator Hume’s office shared ATO data which found that, as of June 2020, people in NSW were the biggest culprits for lost or unclaimed super, with more than $3 billion in that state alone. Liverpool, in Sydney’s west, had the most accounts in this category, with 11,300 unclaimed accounts.
The suburb of Sydney had the highest value of unclaimed accounts, with $64 million. Next was Cairns, with 11,000 accounts holding $40 million in lost super, then the Sydney suburbs of Bondi, Concord and Surry Hills on $38 million.
Mackay and Toowoomba, in Queensland, both had $37 million in lost super.
Senator Hume said the government had been trying to link people up with their forgotten money, with the national pot of lost superannuation decreasing by $7 billion between June 2019 and June 2020, as people had lost super returned to them.
“$7 billion in reclaimed super is a terrific outcome for thousands of Australians,” she said.
Senator Hume said people could search online for their lost super through the ATO’s website.