How do you find an old retirement account that hasn’t been looked at in years? In a recent article, “How To Track Down That Lost 401(k) Or Pension,” Forbes notes that Americans have lost track of more than $7.7 billion worth of retirement savings in 2015 alone, by “accidentally and unknowingly” abandoning their 401(k) plans.
With people jumping from job to job, they can often leave a trail of old retirement accounts and even a few pensions behind. Therefore, a surprising number of people lose track of these old accounts. Forgetting about these accounts can really hurt your overall retirement security, when you add in compounding interest.
Let’s look at how to start your search for lost retirement assets. Hopefully, you have an old statement or benefit information. If not, the first step is to track down your previous employers. Send them an email or letter asking for information about your accrued retirement benefits.
If you can’t find your former employer, it can be tough. It is possible to try sources like the Labor Department and nonprofit pension counseling centers. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) also provides help in tracking down traditional pensions. There are also databases that list corporations and bankruptcies.
These databases may be able to help you track down the missing retirement plans, because each plan is required to file an annual report with the IRS. If you can track down this form, it should contain the plan’s contact information and employer’s identification number. With this information, you can likely determine where the plan is now, or who inherited it during a corporate merger.
If your previous employer has terminated its defined benefit pension plan, check with the PBGC. They have a database of missing participants in the underfunded pension plans it has taken over.
If a company terminates a 401(k) plan, it’s required to transfer all accounts to the plan’s participants. When they can’t locate a participant, the firm can then send the money to an IRA, a bank, or even a state’s unclaimed property fund.
Reference: Forbes (April 15, 2018) “How To Track Down That Lost 401(k) Or Pension”