Lost and found pension benefits
"Many people these days contribute to 401(k)s
through automatic payroll deductions, so it's easier to forget they
ever had one," says Spiro Preovolos, a spokesman for the NRURB.
"In some cases, even if they know it's there, they think it's
only worth a few dollars so it's not worth the hassle to get the
But claiming lost retirement benefits is a fairly painless process,
says Preovolos. Once they have your address, the employer or trustee of the account
will send you an election form, which you can use to either take the benefit as
a lump-sum payment or roll it over into an IRA.
cases, lost retirement benefits can be claimed by account holders, spouses or
heirs to their estates.
How to claim
If you think you're owed retirement benefits, you should
first try to contact the plan administrator or the company where you worked. If
that fails, there are several sources that may be able to help.
PBGC Web site, for one, offers a free, online search
tool that enables Web users to hunt for missing pension funds by last name,
the name of the company for which the participant worked or by state.
unable to locate their former employers can also use PBGC's "Find your pension
tool, which allows them to search by pension plan name, PBGC case number or
the company's name.
According to Pastorius, the PBGC database
includes the names of all missing persons who participated in a traditional pension
fund at a privately owned company that terminated its plan and then transferred
the assets for missing participants to PBGC. It also includes lost pensions from
companies that either merged or went out of business.