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Unpaid super costing workers tens of thousands of dollars

Workers on the cusp of retirement who are short changed on their superannuation entitlements have nest eggs that are tens of thousands of dollars less than those who are paid correctly.

Using the latest ATO data from 2013-14, the research from Industry Super Australia found that people aged 60 to 64 on salaries ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 who weren’t correctly paid their SG that year, had overall super balances that were $35,089 or almost 40 per cent less than those who were.

Across all ages and all salaries, those Australians who were underpaid their super had balances that were $19,709 or 47 per cent lower than those who had received it.

Australian law requires employers to contribute 9.5 per cent in superannuation towards every worker over the age of 18 earning more than $450 (gross) a month. This is the Superannuation Guarantee.

However, a report released late last year found that 2.4 million or one-third of entitled workers were denied their SG in 2013-14. For the average worker, this represented $1,489 or four months’ worth of savings.

This new work draws from an ATO 2 per cent sample file of matched personal tax and superannuation records for 2013-14 and analyses the difference in balances for people who are underpaid employer super by nine categories of age and by six categories of wage and salary. In the matrix of 54 combinations, underpaid super was associated with a markedly lower balance in all combinations.

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Expert advice on early superannuation access as a result of COVID-19

April 2, 2020

Under the coronavirus stimulus package released and revised by the Australian Federal Government on 22 March 2020, individuals in financial trouble due to the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 will be able to access their superannuation funds early. However, while the option is available, it is recommended that individuals only consider withdrawing from their super in the case of absolute emergencies and treat it as a last resort.

With the new rules on superannuation, workers whose incomes are reduced by at least 20% due to the COVID-19 outbreak are allowed to take $10,000 out of their super for the 2019-20 financial year and another $10,000 for 2020-21. Individuals will also not need to pay tax on any withdrawn amounts and existing welfare payments will not be affected either.

While the introduced early access to superannuation funds may be inviting for newly unemployed workers, it is important to consider whether the temporary relief is necessary and worth foregoing super funds available for long term investment. For example, even when accounting for Australia’s slowing economy in the coming years, $10,000 is predicted to be worth over $65,000 in another 30 years.

Especially for younger workers who are less likely to have access to other savings, the choice to give up future savings for current comfort is a difficult one. Experts instead are recommending Australians to apply for the other payments and benefits made available to vulnerable Australians through the coronavirus stimulus package, such as added $550 fortnightly supplements to Australians on JobSeeker payments and other welfare recipients and pensioners.

Experts also predict that the Australian Government will introduce more stimuli for increased cash flow in the Australian economy and more payments for unemployed, struggling and vulnerable Australians in the case of COVID-19 becoming more of a serious economic issue. Hence, withdrawing funds from your superannuation account should be considered a last resort and not for the sake of unnecessary temporary relief.

In addition to being allowed early access into individual super funds, superannuation minimum drawdown rates will also be temporarily reduced by 50% for account-based pensions and others similar until 2021.

The Government has also reduced the upper and lower social security deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points, with upper at 2.25% and lower at 0.25% which will come into effect on 1 May 2020.