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ATO-held super: USM and SHA

Last updated 26 February 2023

Understand more about ATO-held super, including unclaimed super money (USM) and super holding accounts (SHA).

When super providers pay USM to us

ATO-held super is super money we hold for you. This includes amounts paid on your behalf by:

  • employers
  • super funds
  • retirement savings accounts (RSA)
  • the government.

Generally, USM must be reported and paid to us from super providers once it meets a certain category of USM for any of the following:

  • unclaimed super for members who are 65 years or older, non-member spouses and deceased members
  • eligible rollover funds (ERFs)
  • small lost member accounts and insoluble lost member accounts
  • inactive low-balance accounts (ILBA)
  • super for temporary residents who have left Australia for 6 months or more and their visa has expired or been cancelled
  • amounts paid to us on a voluntary basis, called trustee voluntary payments (TVPs).

SHA amounts include:

  • government super contributions
  • super guarantee payments
  • legacy employer payments that could not be paid into an eligible super fund account.

These are held in a SHA special account.

The SHA special account holds small super amounts until they can be transferred into a super fund or retirement savings account.

SHA accounts become inactive when there has been no activity for 10 consecutive years.

Individuals can consolidate their lost or ATO-held super using ATO online services in myGovExternal Link.

The 2 tables below show the total number and value of ATO-held USM accounts (as reported and paid by funds) and SHA amounts, at the end of the last 4 financial years.

ATO-held: Account numbers

Category

2019
('000)

2020
('000)

2021
('000)

2022
('000)

USM: general, small and insoluble

4,241

3,373

3,291

3,156

USM: member eligible age – 65 years and over

30

75

98

101

USM: deceased

2

4

9

12

USM: inactive low balance accounts

n/a

997

1,371

1,573

USM: former temporary resident

797

811

951

999

USM: trustee voluntary payments

n/a

n/a

170

271

USM: eligible rollover funds

n/a

n/a

n/a

64

SHA: active

200

184

191

194

SHA: inactive – consolidated revenue

124

142

142

141

Total

5,394

5,586

6,223

6,513

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. Totals may not align due to rounding.

The table above shows the ATO-held USM accounts on hand by category as reported and paid to us by super funds.

ILBA reporting began in the 2020 financial year. Before this, most USM meeting the ILBA criteria would have been reported under other existing USM categories.

TVP reporting began in the 2021 financial year. Before this, accounts meeting the TVP criteria would not have been reported to us. TVPs can be reported and paid at any time.

ERF reporting began in the 2022 financial year. Some accounts meeting the ERF criteria were reported by super funds as TVPs in 2021 as part of an interim reporting process. These are included in the table as TVPs. Funds are no longer reporting ERFs as they have now been reported and paid.

ATO-held: Account values

Category

2019

2020

2021

2022

USM: general, small and insoluble

$3.1b

$1.9b

$2.0b

$1.8b

USM: member eligible age - age 65 and over

$132m

$124m

$178m

$236m

USM: deceased

$26m

$35m

$79m

$118m

USM: inactive low balance accounts

n/a

$751m

$1.3b

$1.5b

USM: temporary resident

$607m

$630m

$913m

$1.1b

USM: trustee voluntary payments

n/a

n/a

$188m

$268m

USM: eligible rollover funds

n/a

n/a

n/a

$443m

SHA: active

$83m

$75m

$75m

$77m

SHA: inactive – consolidated revenue

$29m

$38m

$38m

$37m

Total

$4.0b

$3.6b

$4.7b

$5.6b

Figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred million. The tables show the ATO-held USM account values on hand by the category reported to us by super funds.

ILBA reporting began in the 2020 financial year. Before this, most USM meeting the ILBA criteria would have been reported under other existing USM categories.

TVP reporting began in the 2021 financial year. Before this, accounts meeting the TVP criteria would not have been reported to us. TVPs can be reported and paid at any time.

ERF reporting began in the 2022 financial year. Some accounts meeting the ERF criteria were reported by super funds as TVPs in 2021 as part of an interim reporting process. These are included in the table as TVPs. Funds are no longer reporting ERFs as they have now been reported and paid.

Matched USM holdings

When super funds pay lost and unclaimed super to us, we use the information we hold to find out who the super belongs to.

If we can confidently match this super to someone, referred to as matched USM, we link it to their ATO record. They will be able to see it in their ATO online services account.

Our matched USM holdings vary over time as:

  • more USM is reported to us
  • clients update their details with us, allowing us to match more accounts
  • accounts are consolidated or otherwise reunited with account owners.

We cannot consolidate all accounts. Specific criteria need to be met before we can pay USM into a person's super account.

The table below shows the total accounts and value of ATO-held matched USM accounts on hand for the last 4 financial years.

Matched USM accounts and value

Financial Year

Accounts
('000)

Value

2019

3,401

$3.1b

2020

3,398

$2.5b

2021

3,970

$3.6b

2022

4,223

$4.3b

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand (for accounts) and hundred million (for value) and include all categories of USM. Accounts represent total ATO USM holdings accumulated over time.

Unmatched USM holdings

If we can't match super to an individual, we hold it as unmatched super until we get more information. Additional information that may help us match you to super includes:

  • current and previous addresses
  • current and previous employers
  • previous names.

The table below shows the number and value of ATO-held unmatched super accounts on 30 June for the past 4 financial years.

Unmatched USM accounts and value

Financial Year

Accounts
('000)

Value

2019

1,668

$753m

2020

1,862

$922m

2021

1,921

$1.02b

2022

1,953

$1.16b

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand (for accounts) and million (for value) and include all categories of USM. Accounts represent total ATO USM holdings accumulated over time.

If you think you have lost super and can't see it on ATO online services, we may be holding unmatched super for you. Contact your super funds and follow the instructions.

USM under $200 and 65 years and older

Where possible, we will make a direct payment of certain types of USM to an eligible individual's bank account. This will only happen where:

  • the value of the USM is less than $200, or
  • the individual is 65 years or over and they do not have a standing request in place with us to pay USM into a nominated account.

Not all amounts can be paid out directly to eligible individuals. This is most often because we do not hold current information such as bank account and contact details. Until then, USM accounts for individuals eligible for direct payment will remain part of our USM holdings.

The table below shows the number and value of USM accounts eligible for a direct payment where the value is under $200 or the account holder is 65 years or older.

USM eligible for direct payment: Accounts and value

Category

Accounts ('000)

Value

USM: under $200

728

$53m

USM: age 65 and over

258

$302m

Total

986

$355m

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand (for accounts) and million (for value). The categories are based on our analysis of matched USM account holdings rather than the categories of USM as reported and paid by super funds. Data reflects the position on 5 August 2022.

Where we receive or hold USM for account holders 65 years or older, we are required to make a direct payment to them unless they have a standing super fund nomination request in place. In this case, we pay any USM into a nominated super account.

If you are close to or over 65 and would prefer to retain your super in your fund, it is important that you regularly keep track of your super. This includes:

  • staying in contact with your super fund
  • updating your contact details with us and your fund.

This ensures your super is not lost or at risk of being paid to us as USM.

ATO USM consolidations and direct payments

ATO proactive consolidations

Since 1 November 2019, we have had the legislative authority to proactively consolidate some categories of USM to active, eligible super accounts.

An eligible super account is one where:

  • the account has received at least one contribution in the current or previous financial year
  • the account can receive payments from us (some super accounts are not able to receive payments from government)
  • if we do pay your USM into the account, the anticipated balance of the account after payment must be greater than $6,000.

Where all conditions are met, we will normally proactively consolidate USM into eligible super accounts without the USM account owner needing to be involved at all.

Direct payments to individuals

Before 1 November 2019, we already had the authority to pay USM directly to individuals. We proactively make direct payments where the amount is less than $200 or account holders are 65 years or over.

Only matched USM can be reunited to a client’s super fund or bank account.

The table below shows the cumulative number and value of accounts from 1 November 2019 to 30 June 2022 that have been rolled over into a super account or paid directly to an eligible individual.

USM consolidations and direct payments: Accounts and value to 30 June 2022

Category

Accounts ('000)

Value

Consolidations to active super accounts

3,059

$6.01b

Direct payments to individuals

1,633

$1.10b

Total

4,692

$7.11b

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand (for accounts) and 10 million (for value). Figures represent USM we (or clients) have been able to reunite and will include amounts we receive before 1 November 2019.

Consolidation to super accounts includes both ATO and client initiated USM transfers.

The value of direct payment to individuals includes both ATO and client initiated direct payments, including payments made from all USM categories (including those less than $200 and those made to individuals 65 years and over).

Account consolidations by individuals

You can use ATO online services through myGovExternal Link to:

If we're holding ATO-held super for you, use ATO online services to request a transfer to the super fund you would like the money to be held in. This is the quickest way to transfer any ATO-held super to your preferred fund.

You may be able to transfer USM to a super account when we can't. For example, if your super fund has not received a contribution in the current or previous financial year.

Over the past 3 years, the number of accounts consolidated using ATO online services has decreased. This may be due to:

  • fewer individuals holding multiple accounts
  • the impact of our proactive consolidations.
Accounts and value consolidated by individuals using ATO online

Year

Accounts
('000)

Value ($b)

2019

538

$4.4

2020

663

$6.9

2021

197

$2.0

2022

159

$1.8

Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand (for accounts) and hundred million (for value). These figures include consolidations of both ATO-held and fund-held accounts.

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