Texarkana, TX 60° Tue H 79° L 60° Wed H 77° L 63° Thu H 74° L 60° Weather Sponsored By:

On the money: How to find your lost retirement money

On the money: How to find your lost retirement money

April 1st, 2019 by Associated Press in Features

Pedestrians pass beneath City Hall on Feb. 12 in Philadelphia. There's no exact measure of how many unclaimed benefits are out there. But a report released last year by the Government Account-ability Office states that between 2004 and 2013 more than 25 million people left at least one retirement plan behind when they left a job.

Photo by Associated Press file photo

No one wants to lose money, particularly for retirement. But it happens—people lose track of, or don't know they have, retirement accounts.

It's surprisingly easy to do. People switch jobs, move, change names and the company or plan provider loses track of them. Or an employee can't keep track after a company is sold or a plan is terminated. Some people don't even know they were eligible for a pension, didn't realize they were vested or were unaware they were automatically enrolled in a 401(k).

While an employer should inform employees of their options when leaving, employees sometimese forget to complete the paperwork, said Thomas Nee, co-founder of Compass Point Retirement Planning. There is also little requirement or incentive for companies or plan providers to find beneficiaries.

There's no exact measure of how many unclaimed benefits are out there. But a report released last year by the Government Accountability Office states that between 2004 and 2013 more than 25 million people left at least one retirement plan behind when they left a job.

Here are some tips on tracking down lost benefits:

 

CHECK YOUR PAPERWORK

If you have paperwork on an old pension, 401(k) or other retirement plan, this is a good place to start. Contact the company that manages the plan and go from there.

In some cases, you may want to grab old taxes, W-2s or other employment-related documents while you're digging through the paperwork. This documentation can help if the process proves difficult. In some cases, the hunt to find and claim benefits can become very complex and take years, particularly if a company has been sold more than once over the years, said Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center.

 

CONTACT YOUR OLD EMPLOYER

The next step should be contacting your old employer to request information about what retirement benefits you're due. If you cannot find them, search the Department of Labor's website of Form 5500 filings to find out if they are still in business. This form should have contact information for the plan.

 

GET HELP

There are a bevy of databases and organizations that can help you find benefits and provide direction:

- The Department of Labor's Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) provides help over the phone and online, including a searchable database for abandoned plans: www.askebsa.dol.gov

-  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is a federal agency in charge of insuring private-sector pension benefits. If the plan is in trouble, the PBGC steps in. The PBGC said there are more than 80,000 people who earned a pension who haven't yet claimed it. Those unclaimed benefits total over $400 million dollars, with individual benefits ranging from twelve cents to almost $1 million. The agency provides information over the phone and online, including a searchable database: www.pbgc.gov

- State Unclaimed Property: In some cases, the money is handed over to a state's unclaimed property division. Each state maintains its own database but the website missingmoney.com, created by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, can also provide information about each state's programs.

- Social Security Administration: The SSA will provide a notice alerting you to potential benefits when you are ready to claim Social Security, but the notice does not guarantee those funds are still there.

- The U.S. Administration on Aging's Pension Counseling and Information Program provides free legal assistance to those experiencing a problem with their pension, profit sharing or retirement savings plans. It currently serves 30 states. If your state isn't covered, check out pensionhelp.org, a website of the nonprofit Pension Rights Center. It helps connect people with counseling projects, government agencies, and legal service providers that offer free information and assistance.

 

SMALL BALANCES

If a 401(k) has less than $5,000 in it, federal law allows those balances to be moved to an IRA without the beneficiaries' consent. These can be hard to find, but try the EBSA's abandoned plan search, a state's unclaimed property site or contact the company that used to manage those benefits to find out where they've been sent.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com