Money for when you finish working

The idea of superannuation (super) is to save money during your working life so that you and your family have money when you stop working and retire. Some people will also get the Age Pension after retirement. Super funds also offer insurance benefits, which can help protect you and your family if you die or are too sick to work.  

Your employer must put money into a super fund for you. Make sure you get the super you are entitled to.

What is super?

Here are some things you should know about super:Woman sitting at a computer

  • Money for your retirement. You can't use it for anything else. The money stays in the super fund and is invested so it can earn interest and grow. You can choose your own super fund or your employer can put your super money into a fund of its choice. For more information see choosing a super fund.
  • Your employer must pay money into your super account. While you are working, your employer must put 9.5% of what you earn into a super fund for you. For example, Bec is a health worker and earns $26,000 a year. Her boss pays Bec her wages and puts an extra 9.5% of her salary into a super fund. For Bec that is $2,470 a year.
  • Keep track of your super.  It is important that you read your statements and the materials provided to you by the super fund. If you do nothing your account will go into the default investment or standard option, which may not be the most appropriate for you.
  • You may get insurance with your super. Super funds may also provide you with insurance for a fee. This will help your family with some money if you die or are too sick to work. See insurance through super for more details.

Make sure you are getting your super

Your employer must pay money into your super fund if you are:

  • Paid more than $450 per month
  • Over 18 and work more than 30 hours a week

Work out how much your employer should be paying into your super fund.

Employer contributions calculator

Keep your contact details up to date so you don't lose track of your super and your fund doesn't lose track of you. This will also help prevent delays when you contact your super fund, for example, about insurance payments.

Smart tip

Contact your super fund if you have any questions or difficulty understanding the information they send you.

If you are on a Community Development Employment Project (CDEP), your boss must pay super on any 'top up' wages that take your total wages (including your CDEP payment) to $450 or more a month. For more information on CDEP, call the Indigenous Coordination Centre on 1800 079 098, or if you are in:

  • Nhulunbuy, call 1800 089 148
  • Kalgoorlie, call 1800 193 357
  • Kununurra, call 1800 193 348

Talk to your boss if you're not sure you are being paid super. You can also visit the unpaid super page at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website or call their National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Centre on 13 10 30.

Nathan Boyle on super outreach in the APY Lands

Susan Tilley from Anangu Lands Paper Tracker interviews ASIC's Nathan Boyle about the 2018  outreach trip to the APY Lands  to help people with their superannuation.

Choosing a super fund

Man stacking shelves in a shopEvery time you start a new job you should be given a form that lets your employer know which super fund you want your super paid into. Make sure you fill in your tax file number (TFN) on the form so you aren't charged too much tax.

If you're not sure what your TFN is, call the Australian Taxation Office's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Centre on 13 10 30.

What if you don't want to choose?

If you don't choose a super fund your employer will pay the super into a fund they choose. Super funds now offer accounts with basic insurance and low fees called 'MySuper' accounts. If you don't choose a fund your employer must pay your super into a MySuper account from January 2014. Make sure the fund your employer has chosen is the best fund for you. Your boss can give you general facts about super, but can't give you advice about which super fund is best for you.

See our MySuper webpage for more details.

Super fees

Each super fund will charge you fees for keeping your super with them. These fees can add up over time, so try to find a super fund with low fees.

Compare the impact of fees on your super fund.

Superannuation calculator

Case study: Dan compares two super funds

Dan is starting a job and is trying to decide which super fund to choose. The first super fund charges 1% management costs and the second charges 2%. Dan worked out by choosing the first super fund he will save more than $70,000 in fees by the time he retires at age 65.

Move all your super into one fund

If you have worked in a few jobs, your super might be in a few different funds. You'll be charged fees for each fund. It is much cheaper and easier to keep track of your super if you only have one fund.

Here are the steps to take when moving your super into one fund:

  1. Check whether you have to pay an exit fee - Before you move your money out of a super fund, check whether you have to pay a fee to leave that fund, called an exit fee.
  2. Make sure you don't lose your insurance benefits - If you do lose your insurance you might not be able to get the same benefit through your new fund and you might want to rethink moving your money.
  3. Decide which fund you want to use - Choose a fund that has low fees and good features.
  4. Contact all of your super funds - Phone each of your other funds and tell them you want to move your super into your chosen fund. Each fund will send you a form and ask for some identification. Fill out the forms and get your super moved into one fund.

Searching for lost super 

Senior man standingHave you kept track of all your super? If you've ever changed your name, address, job, or done casual or part-time work, you may have lost track of some super.

The Australian Taxation Office's (ATO's) online tool Superseeker can help you see if you have any lost or unclaimed super. Do a quick search by providing your:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Tax file number

To find out more, see keeping track and lost super.

Video: Check out your super

Superannuation video

The Last Kinection know plenty about music but not enough about their super.

Want to find out more about super? Read our booklet Super and us mob.

Putting extra money into your super

You can put some of your own money into your super fund so you have more when you retire.

Government co-contribution

If you put more money in you might get extra money from the government for your super. This is called a 'government co-contribution'.

Find out if you can get a government co-contribution

Case study: Auntie Kelly saves for her retirement

Auntie Kelly is 52 and teaches at her local primary school. She decides to put some of her own money into her super so she can live more comfortably when she retires. She knows that contributing to her super is good value for money because she will earn a high interest rate on her savings and the government will put some money in too.

Low income super tax offset

If you earn $37,000 or less you may also get a 'low income super tax offset' of up to $500 from the government every year. You will get this whether or not you add extra money to your super. The ATO will automatically make these payments if you meet the criteria.

To find out more, see low income super tax offset.

Getting super is your right and helps you have a more comfortable retirement. Always check your pay slip to make sure you are being paid the right amount of super and read your super statements when you get them. For more information listen to our audio segment learning about your super.

Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 06 Nov 2018