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Did you forget your pension?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Did you walk away from a job, leave your pension behind and then forget about it? If that's so, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, or PBGC, could have a windfall for you.

The PBGC is looking for more than 38,000 people who haven't claimed their pension benefits. Those benefits are worth more than $300 million dollars, with some people owed as little as 12 cents while others are owed almost $1 million dollars.

The states with the most missing pension participants and money to be claimed are as follows.

  • New York (7,031/$42.38 million).
  • Illinois (4,129/$79.63 million).
  • California (3,082/$8.52 million).
  • Texas (2,487/$12.32 million).
  • New Jersey (2,288/$12.84 million).
  • Ohio (2,109/$15.22 million).

The PBGC offers a Pension search directory that allows you to search by last name, company name or state where the company was headquartered.

If you think you've found yourself there, be prepared to provide proof of your identity and other details. The process can take up to six weeks, the PBGC says.

Keeping track of the retirement benefits owed to you is an important part of retirement planning.

When you leave an employer:

  • Get a written record of any defined benefit pensions that you are leaving behind, including a copy of the summary plan document, which should tell you the options for collecting and whether your spouse will be eligible for benefits after your death.
  • Decide what to do with your 401(k). If you leave it behind in your former employer's plan, make sure your former employer continues to have your updated address.
  • Keep track of your employment record so that you at least you know the date you started and the date you left. Keeping track of what you earned could be important, too. Companies do make mistakes, and when you go to claim your benefits years down the road, having basic information will help you ensure the accuracy of what you are entitled to. If you don't have these kinds of records, you'll have to ask for reports from Social Security.
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Robert E. Miller
January 11, 2014 at 1:44 am

I Worked For Westinghouse Electric In Lima for 3yrs.

dan hedges
January 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm

am I one of these.

David Vigil
February 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Very interesting article - only question, with all the links included, why did you not include one to the PBGC site where I can search or, at least, provide the website address?

January 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I worked at Fed Ex for 10 years and left the company. I didn't even know that I would get a "pension" until a friend who had worked their 18 years told me. At the time, one only had to have five years to be vested. So glad I called THEM and updated my mailing address for them to forward to me yearly retirement statements. They're certainly not going to look to hard to find you! Any major corporation -- call HR and ask about it.

Richard c poll
January 16, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I worked for two companys levelor window blinds for about 12 years. also for cutter lab for about 8 years both businesses left the do i find out if their is maybe a pension?

Valerie Breeden
January 16, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Do you know if we can claim money that we paid in to union dues?

angelita G. Maralit
January 16, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Bank of America I worked from 1970 to early 1973.

Andy Brock
January 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Attn: Jennie L. Phipps,

Just exactly how is "$1 million dollars" pronounced?

Delfina CipresGarcia
January 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Bank of America , I worked almost 5 yrs

Delfina CipresGarcia
January 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Bank of America , I worked almost 5 yrs -till 1964