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$215 to $7000: Simple way Aussies can cash in on lost money

From Medicare to superannuation, there's almost $16 billion in unclaimed money waiting to be pocketed.

Almost $16 billion – yes billion – in cash is lost in Australia without its owners knowing. And there are hundreds of thousands of those owners.

You could be one of the lucky people who have either lost track of some money. Or maybe you have money owned to you that you didn't even know about?

Here is why and – crucially – where, starting with the likely smallest to largest amounts.

Nicole Pederson-McKinnon has revealed the places you should look for unclaimed cash, like Medicare.
Nicole Pederson-McKinnon has revealed the places you should look for unclaimed cash, like Medicare. (Supplied)

Medicare rebates: $200 million unclaimed

Been to the doctor in the past years and forgotten your Medicare card? Or they didn’t have the ability to electronically issue a rebate?

The government is on a mission to give this money back to you. It has returned $26 million to more than 100,000 Aussies this year to February, which works out at an average of $215 each.

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But it says $200m is still up for grabs.

So how do you see if some is yours?

Stake your claim here: You need to have linked your MyGov to Medicare, and then it’s a simple matter of updating your bank account details – double and triple check – and the money will wing its way into that account.

If you are not feeling so tech savvy, because MyGov can be intimidating, you can call Medicare on 132 011 or go into a branch..

An even more potentially lucrative place to look for lost money is…

Bank accounts, life insurance and shares: $1.5b unclaimed

If you haven’t touched a bank account for seven years, so made no deposits or withdrawals, it’s basically subsumed into Commonwealth coffers.

You can get it back (it’s really just there for safekeeping) and you want to because the interest earned is only at the level of inflation. In other words, your money is doing nothing.

Earlier, I mentioned money you may never have known about before… ever held any money in a mutual financial institution or building society? Many of these have ‘demutualised’ and listed on the share market over the decades, instantly making their account holders shareholders.

And how beautiful is this: When last I revealed where to search for money you didn’t know you had, I was contacted by a lady who’d found an insurance policy taken out for her when she was born, in the 1960s, by her mother.

It was by then valued at $400. Her mother had died but the lady wanted to tell me how grateful she was for what felt like a precious message to her from beyond the grave.

Speaking of which, you might even be the unknowing beneficiary of an inheritance, particularly if someone in your family has died without a will, or intestate.

In this case, all assets are distributed to family members according to a set, state-based formula.

Have you ever heard whispers of a rich, cat-loving aunt? Estates generally do not pass to the government unless there are no living relatives.

Stake your claim here: There is a simple search for bank accounts, insurances and shares; just go to moneysmart.gov.au

For inheritances, contact your state’s Office of State Revenue or Public Trustee.

Superannuation: $13.8b unclaimed

It is really easy to have misplaced some money in super if you have changed name, changed addresses or just forgotten about an account from an old job. Super is designated as lost when your fund can't reach you, often because your details are out of date.

Now, accounts with over $6,000 stay ‘lost’ with your fund until you claim them.

But there is also such a thing as ‘unclaimed’ super. This is the classification if your lost super drops below $6,000 without being claimed for a certain time – it’s then transferred to the ATO as thus.

The average, per-account amount is no longer being publicly released but when it was five or so years ago, the average ‘find’ was some $7,000.

Stake your claim here: Again, you go to MyGov and, this time, simply link it to the ATO. Up will automatically pop a Super Health Check that includes step-by-step instructions for lost super and how to consolidate it.

You can do this on the phone too by calling the lost super search line – have your tax file number handy – on 13 28 65.

Usually, we are all too busy scrambling with the cost-of-living crisis to take a step back and sort the big-picture stuff.

But just half an hour of life admin today could give you immediate financial relief.