Mozo guides

What’s the difference between lost and unclaimed super?

Two hikers standing behind a map, with their silhouettes visible through the map.

We often hear questions about the distinction between lost and unclaimed superannuation. It's a common point of confusion for many managing their retirement savings, but it doesn't have to be.

At their core, both terms refer to superannuation money that you're not currently contributing to or withdrawing from and have probably lost track of. It’s just that they’re held in different places and there’s a different process for getting them back. There are a few other nuances, so this mini-explainer will clear the air.

And if you want to know the step-by-step process of reclaiming lost and unclaimed super, check out our comprehensive guide on claiming these accounts.

Understanding lost vs. unclaimed super

A Venn diagram highlighting the overlap in definitions between lost and unclaimed superannuation. Beneath the diagram, a table with two columns outlines the steps to claim lost and unclaimed superannuation, respectively.

Super is marked as ‘lost’ when your fund can't get a hold of you, typically because you've moved, changed jobs or changed your name without letting your fund know. Super accounts with a balance of more than $6,000 remain in this ‘lost’ state within your fund until you step in to claim them.

Super funds are required by law to inform the ATO about lost super every six months. If your lost super sinks below $6,000 and you haven't claimed it after a certain period, the money is transferred to the ATO as 'unclaimed'. This transfer aims to shield your super from being nibbled away by fees.

It's worth noting, though, that unclaimed super isn't just about lost accounts. It also covers super that people haven't claimed when they retire, funds from estates of those who've passed away, and other specific cases.

The infographic above shows how they overlap. The size of each circle doesn’t show actual proportions or amounts— it’s just to help us see how they intersect.

The claims process

If you think you have lost or unclaimed super, there are ways to seek it out, find it and claim it back. The infographic above gives you the basics, but our complete guide on finding lost and unclaimed super takes you through the process in detail.

To learn more about these and other fascinating topics about superannuation, take control of your future by checking out our superannuation guides hub.

Brad Buzzard
Brad Buzzard
Senior Money Writer

Brad brings over 25 years of experience in writing and consumer research to Mozo, using his RG146 certification for Generic Knowledge and Superannuation Brad has a knack for translating complex policies, to deliver practical guidance on financial matters. Brad has been featured in The Australian, B&T, Mumbrella, and Asia Insurance Review, and his insights have influenced the strategies of some of the world's biggest brands including McDonalds and Proctor & Gamble.