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Lost Pensions in Australia

Sometimes when workers change jobs, they later cannot find the pension plan of their former employer when they are eligible to receive benefits. This problem can occur, for example, if their former firm changes its name or moves to a new location. To deal with this problem, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) maintains a Lost Members Register.  All regulated pension funds are required to provide details of members with whom they have lost contact.  Providers of individual retirement savings accounts (such as IRAs) are also required to register the names of account holders whom they are unable to contact. That information is required to be provided to the government twice a year.

If a worker is unable to contact a pension plan, the worker can contact the Australian Tax Office.  That worker’s plan will presumably have contacted the ATO because of its inability of the plan to contact the worker. Thus, through the Lost Members Register a connection can be made between the worker and the plan. The Lost Members Register database is searched by government bureaucrats on behalf of persons making an enquiry.   Plans that are able to contact all members are not required to contact the registry. If a person’s pension money has not been claimed by the time he or she reaches age 65, the money is transferred to the Unclaimed Money Register, where it can still be claimed.

For further information, read about the Lost Pension Register.

Also see "Retirees ISO Their Lost Pensions," by David Blake and John Turner.