Keeping records vital to finding lost super
BARRY Leighton worked hard to earn his superannuation, and feels he is entitled to claim what is his.
Unfortunately, Mr Leighton is one of hundreds of Australians who each year lose contact with their superannuation funds.
For eleven years, from 1962 to 1973, Mr Leighton worked in the NSW State Government Stores department in Sydney, before he was forced to retire and go on a pension from a series of medical conditions.
Only recently has the 75-year-old thought about the superannuation he accumulated over 40 years ago.
"I didn't know anything about it until someone told me about it and reminded me," he said.
"I've tried to get it, but I've been told I've lost it, it's gone down the drain, out the window.
"I worked for it, and I want it."
An Australian Tax Office spokeswoman said there are a range of circumstances where a superannuation fund may lose contact with a member.
"If an individual is over 65 years old, and haven't made a contribution for the past two years and have been contactable by their fund for five years, their superannuation may have been paid to the ATO," she said.
"There is no time limit to claim unclaimed superannuation money from the ATO, as the superannuation money is held in Consolidated Revenue until the account owner claims their entitlement. However, given that his contributions were paid into a superannuation fund over 40 years ago, there is a chance that these monies may be difficult to locate."
Mr Leighton, who moved from Sydney to Westlawn after leaving the NSW Government Stores department, said he had payslips, but didn't keep them.
"I threw them all away, I never thought I'd have a need for them," he said.
Shine Lawyers Superannuation and Life Insurance partner Will Barsby said the case was a good example of the importance of good record keeping to ensure superannuation doesn't get lost.
"It's hard to find superannuation if there aren't any details of the fund or their membership," he said.
"People come to us if they've been ill and medically retired and don't know the details of their superannuation fund. There's easily over a hundred people a year come to us looking for their superannuation and don't remember who they're with.
"We can do the basic things for them and try and work backwards but unfortunately some do go missing."
Mr Barsby said everyone should keep their financial documents safe and let loved ones know where their superannuation and insurance policies are, and to update their details with superannution providers when their circumstances change.
"I always remind my clients their superannuation is one of their most important assests to protect their family, and if they look at it as an asset it's definitely a motivator to keep all their details and records up-to-date," he said.
The ATO spokeswoman said lost superannuation held by the tax office can be found using online services with a myGov account, or by calling the ATO on 13 10 20.