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Australian retirees are missing out on $21 billion in lost and unclaimed super

Lots of people worried about how they’ll pay for their retirement may not realise they already have a substantial nest egg they’ve simply misplaced.

New Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data reveals more than $20.8 billion worth of superannuation sits in lost or unclaimed accounts.

The ATO is keen to reunite people with their money and has published a list of the top 10 postcodes for missing super.

Billions are owed to tens of thousands of people in western Sydney, with four of the top 10 postcodes from that region, with Liverpool (2170), with 13,251 people owed  $81 million, followed by Werribee (3030) in Victoria where nearly 10,000 people have $72 million. In Sydney’s west, Campbelltown, Westmead and Blacktown featured in the top 10, with residents owed a combined $1.75 billion. Across the state NSW residents have $6 billion in unclaimed and lost super. Across the other states, the figures are $438 million in the ACT, $4.7 billion in Victoria, $2.2 billion in WA, $2.8 billion in Queensland, $1.4 billion in South Australia, $258 million in the NT, and $404 million in Tasmania.

Last year over 540,000 active, lost and unclaimed super accounts, worth more than $4.4 billion, were consolidated using ATO online via myGov. 

ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said people lose touch with their fund by simply changing jobs or moving home.

“It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean it’s lost forever, getting back in touch is easier than you think,” he said. 

A new law that requires super funds to report and pay ‘inactive low balance accounts’ worth less than $6000 to the ATO, so they’re not eaten up by fees and charges, has seen more than 2.3 million of those accounts, worth around $2.16 billion, handed over to the tax office for safekeeping

“So far, we have reunited just over 841,000 accounts worth nearly $1.38 billion,” Mr Whyte said. “This includes approximately 684,000 accounts worth $1.22 billion that have been transferred into an individual’s active super account and approximately 157,000 accounts worth $161 million directly to individuals’ bank accounts. We expect more than one million people will receive a direct payment. 

“With the ATO now able to reunite these inactive low balance accounts and previously unclaimed accounts, we’ve already started to see some incredible examples of people receiving meaningful boosts to their retirement savings. 

The assistant commissioner said one woman, aged 68, will receive $1.5 million that was unclaimed and she’d lost touch with. 

Another woman received $600,000 in unclaimed super after losing her home in a bushfire. Because she was over 65, the ATO paid the money directly to her to start rebuilding her life.

“In this case, it wasn’t until the woman reached out to us that she realised she had so much super,” Mr Whyte said. 

“Anyone who thinks they may get a direct payment should make sure their bank account details are up to date by logging in to ATO online via MyGov.”

For more on how to manage your super and view all your super accounts, including lost and unclaimed super, visit ato.gov.au/checkyoursuper 

To find out how much lost super is in your postcode and to see other superannuation statistics click on ato.gov.au/lostsuper 

Source: ATO
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