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.
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.