Superannuation Guide - Top 10 Superannuation Questions
- Is there a way I can find lost superannuation?
The Australian Tax Office has a register that records “lost” superannuation.
They also now have a whiz bang SuperMatch service that is available via their web site –see www.unclaimedsuper.com.au.
- When can I withdraw money?
Usually superannuation benefits are not available until you retire. The savings you have made are "preserved", which means they cannot be touched until you reach retirement age (between 60 and 55, depending on your date of birth).
In exceptional circumstances, superannuation savings can be accessed before retirement age, for example, in cases of severe financial hardship, after death or becoming disabled.
There is also another option under the “transition to retirement” scheme. This allows you to keep working after your “preservation age” and access some of your superannuation. Make sure you get financial advice if you are contemplating this.
- What happens to my superannuation payments when I change jobs?
There are a few options:
• You can leave the money in the fund.
• You can ask your new employer to pay contributions to your old fund – they may or may not be able to do this.
• You can transfer or roll-over the money from your old fund into your new fund.
- What if I think my disability payment should have been larger?
You can take the complaint to the fund's internal dispute resolution process. If this is not successful you may be able to have the dispute dealt with by the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.
- What if my employer has not made compulsory contributions to the superannuation fund?
All employers must tell the Australian Tax Office about the contributions that have been made for employees. The Tax Office can audit the employer's accounts, and charge interest on any outstanding payments, plus administrative fees.
If you think your employer has not been paying, first check with them. If you're still unsure, you can ask the Tax Office to investigate.
- What happens to superannuation if I divorce?
Superannuation can now be dealt with as part of the negotiations or legal action taken where there is a property settlement.
- What if I change from full time to part time work?
Your employer will have to contribute less because your income will be less. Note, if your income is less than $450/month no contributions are required.
- If I change jobs, will I still be covered by the death/disability insurance from my previous superannuation fund?
Check with your super fund. Some funds will continue your cover, provided you pay the premium and leave some superannuation funds with them. Others may require regular contributions to be made.
- How much super do I need?
This is not a straightforward question.
Obviously it partly depends on the type of lifestyle you want after you retire. Most people's lifestyles will be less costly in older age, because they usually no longer have to support children and have often paid off their mortgage.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority estimates that on average, most people need an income equivalent to about 60% of their annual salary. They also estimate that the average worker needs a total investment of about seven times their annual salary to achieve this. This requires a significant contribution over a period of decades if the contribution is in the range of 10% of salary. It is important to realise that the current rate for the age pension is about 25% of average weekly earnings (and you may have been earning more than the average when you were working).
- Can I nominate a person to receive my superannuation if I die?
Yes. Some superannuation funds allow you to nominate the beneficiary who you want to receive your benefits after you die. This nomination can be binding or non binding, depending on the fund. A binding nomination, as the name suggests, requires the trustee to pay the person nominated. A non-binding nomination is more like a recommendation.
If there is no nomination, the trustee of the fund decides who the money should be paid to based on certain rules. This may lead to disputes about who gets what.
Last Updated – June 2012
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This fact sheet is intended to be general information about the law in Australia. It is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Lawscape Communications Pty Ltd and Fairfax Digital Ltd do not accept responsibility for loss to any person, who either acts or does not act because of this fact sheet. Last Updated - October 2005