Check Lost Retirement Benefits Databases
If you dont have any luck finding your 401 with your former employer perhaps your employer has since gone out of business or was purchased by another company there are a few more places to check.
If your old company was sold, contact the human resources department of the companys new owner. Also try the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits, a free website founded more than two decades ago by PenChecks Trust to help locate plan participants who have dropped off the radar.
Even if your company no longer exists, your money still does. Check the abandoned plan database maintained by U.S. Department of Labor to track down the current trustee of your cash. If the retirement benefits were through a traditional pension plan for a company that no longer exists, try the unclaimed pensions database of the U.S. Pension Guaranty Corp.
» How much should I save for retirement?A step-by-step guide
What Other Sites Can I Visit To Check For Lost Money
As I mentioned earlier, lost retirement accounts are just one type of unclaimed money. Here are some other resources that can help you find missing money:
- MissingMoney.com: a government database of unclaimed property.
- HUD.gov: If youve ever gotten a Federal Housing Administration loan, you may be due a refund.
- FDIC.gov: Search for unclaimed funds from failed banks and other financial institutions on this site.
- USA.gov: This site is full of resources to search for unclaimed money, including federal money such as tax refunds and bonds.
- FindMyFunds.com: links to the official website of at least 25 states including some not covered by MissingMoney.com.
Don’t Leave Your 401 Behind Here’s How To Reclaim Your Hard
Switching jobs pulls your mind in several directions at once, and it’s easy for your old 401 to get lost in the shuffle. But you can’t afford to forget about it for good. Building a nest egg to sustain you for decades is tough, so you can’t afford to leave any old retirement accounts behind. If you’ve lost track of your old 401, take these steps to find it and put that money to good use.
Also Check: Do Employers Match Roth 401k
Find Accounts From Failed Banks
You have a couple options if your bank failed and you have yet to claim your money:
- You can find unclaimed money from banks that have failed at this Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. website.
- If your unclaimed money was held at a failed credit union, you can track it down at this National Credit Union Administration website.
Why You Should Recover Your Old 401k
Theres a simple reason why you should attempt to recover a lost 401k account: Its your money. Whether your old 401k plan holds a lot of money or a little, every penny counts when staying on track with your retirement savings.
Another important point to consider: If youve changed jobs multiple times, its possible that you could have more than one lost 401k and taken together, that money could make a surprising difference to your nest egg.
Last, if you were lucky to have an employer that offered a matching 401 contribution, your missing account may have more money in them than you think. For example, a common employer match is 50%, up to the first 6% of your salary. If you dont make an effort to find old 401k accounts, youre missing out on that free money as well.
You May Like: How To Find 401k Account Number
Tracking Down Your Plan
If you think youve lost track of a savings plan, search your files for old retirement account statements. These should provide some key data to help your search, such as your account number and contact information for the plan administrator. If you dont have any statements, contact your former employers human resources department.
If your employer filed for bankruptcy, your 401 balance is protected from creditors and is likely still held at the investment company that administered your plan. In the case of a pension, it was either taken over by an insurance company or the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which protects traditional pensions. You can track down your pension at pbgc.gov/search-all.
Its also possible that your employer turned over your 401 balance to your states unclaimed property fund. Your states treasury department should offer an online service that lets you search for your money. You can also check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits.
Government And Military Pension Resource
Depending on your role in the military, some pensions are available to both veterans and their survivors. Be sure to refer to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information.
- Department of Veteran Affairs: If you or your deceased spouse is a veteran, you can find information on your pension at the VAs pension website.
- State government websites: If you were an employee of your state or local government, be sure to check your states government website to search for information regarding your pension.
You May Like: How Long To Transfer 401k To Ira
Looked For Unclaimed Money
“Ghosted” 401 money certainly qualifies as missing money, and it could be uncovered on digital money-funder platforms like missingmoney.com.
The site, run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, runs free searches for not just retirement funds, but for money in old bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, escrow accounts, and insurance policies. According to the website’s directions, if you get a “hit” on the site, just claim the property and fill out the requested details, then submit and you will receive instructions on the next steps from the state where you made the claim.
S To Find Your Old 401
Its not all that uncommon to lose a 401 especially if you didnt have much invested to begin with. Its possible you were automatically enrolled in a 401 by your old employer and didnt know the account existed. Or maybe you got caught up in the process of switching jobs and forgot to tie up loose ends.
Whatever the case, you can rest assured that your retirement funds arent gone, and youre entitled to them. Its a simple matter of tracking them down and you can start by contacting your old employer.
1. Contact your old employer
Start your search by reaching out to the human resources department of your previous employer. If you dont have HRs email address or phone number on hand, reach out to any company employees youre still in touch with to request the information.
In most cases, it shouldnt be too hard to reconnect with your old employer, but if your company merged with another firm or went out of business, you may need to move on to step two.
2. Speak to the plan administrator
Now lets say you havent had much luck reaching your old company. The next point of contact will be the plan administrator, which is the investment company responsible for managing the investments in your old 401 account.
3. Search national databases
If you follow these steps and still come up short, try a national database. There are numerous sites and services designed to connect former employees with lost retirement savings.
Recommended Reading: Can I Rollover My 401k To A Mutual Fund
How Many Lost 401ks And Other Retirement Accounts Are Forgotten
Think lost and forgotten retirement accounts amount to chump change? Although no one keeps data on how much retirement money gets lost or forgotten, in an interview with Bloomberg, Terry Dunne of Millennium Trust Co., made an educated guess based on government and industry data that more than 900,000 workers lose track of 401k-style, defined-contribution plans each year.
That figure doesnt include pensions. According to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, an independent agency of the U.S. government tasked with protecting pension benefits in private-sector defined benefit plans, there are more than 38,000 people in the U.S. who havent claimed pension benefits they are owed. Those unclaimed pensions total over $300 million dollars, with one individual being owed almost $1 million dollars!
Could that money belong to you?
Have Retirement Money Set Aside But Dont Know Where Try These Strategies
- Print icon
- Resize icon
Between job changes, growing families, maybe even cross-country moves, losing access or forgetting about a retirement account is completely plausible.
Retirement Tip of the Week: If you think you have money floating around in a 401 or pension somewhere, try and find it with a few helpful resources.
For those of us who have been in the workforce for some time, it is easier than one might think to lose track of retirement assets, said Larry Harris, a certified financial planner at Parsec Financial Wealth Management.
Lost retirement money could be held in an abandoned 401 plan or a pension, or in the form of stock shares granted by the employer.
The first step is to check your states treasury site, as states will take custody of these assets after a certain number of years . Many states have an option to perform a search for unclaimed property, said Christopher Lyman, certified financial planner at Allied Financial Advisors. Be careful as to what site youre actually on a state government website will end in .gov, for example. Claiming the property from there is a fairly straightforward process laid out by the state, he said.
Try running the search using any name ever used, said Sarah Carlson, a certified financial planner and founder of Fulcrum Financial Group.
Also Check: How To Find Out If I Have Money In 401k
External Resources For Locating Benefits
Have you explored Finding a Lost Pension prior to visiting these external resources?
- The Pension Rights Center is a nonprofit consumer organization that provides information on pension-related topics and hosts PensionHelp America, an online resource for connecting individuals with counseling projects, government agencies, and legal service providers that offer free information and assistance.
- The Pension Action Center provides free legal counseling for workers and retirees who live or worked in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Illinois.
- The American Academy of Actuaries Pension Assistance List is intended to provide professional services to consumers who have questions about their pension plans.
Government and Military Pensions
- Information about federal and military pensions is available from the Office of Personnel Management, Thrift Savings Plan, and Department of Defense.
- For state and local pension plans, visit state government websites or municipality websites and contact the applicable personnel office.
Lost or Abandoned Pensions
Other Retirement Benefits
1200 K Street, NW
How To Reclaim Your Retirement Plan With A Previous Employer
- Retirement Planning
- How to Reclaim Your Retirement Plan with a Previous Employer
Millions of Americans accidentally or unknowingly leave money in retirement plans with previous employers. According to a study by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Americans lost track of more than $7.7 billion in retirement savings in 2015.
If you’ve left a retirement plan with a previous employer, not to worry. Here are 6 tips you can follow to reclaim your money.
Consider The Amount Of Money In Your Old 401 Account
Your past employer doesnt have to keep overseeing your 401 account if your balance is less than $5,000.
At less than $1,000, your old company can just write you a check.
If you hold more than $1,000 but less than $5,000 in a 401 account with a company for which you no longer work, you should receive a request for payout instructions from your former employer. If you fail to respond to those instructions, your former company can roll the money into an IRA of its choice.
You can search the FreeERISA website to find an old IRA. You wont have to pay to use the site, but it does require you to register to search its database.
National Registry Of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits
You may be able to locate your retirement account funds on the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. This registry is a secure search website designed to help both employers and former employees. Employees can perform a free database search to determine if they may be entitled to any unpaid retirement account money. Employers can register names of former employees who left money with them. Youll need to provide your Social Security number, but no additional information is required.
Read Also: What Are Terms Of Withdrawal 401k
Unclaimed Retirement Benefits: Missing Pension Search
Pension plan administrators are often unable to locate lost employees or missing beneficiaries who have moved or changed name over the years, and companies owing unclaimed pension benefits may have moved, change name, merged or gone bankrupt, making them difficult to trace.
To further complicate matters in many cases pension obligations have been transferred to a successor company after a merger or bankruptcy.
Because many private pension plans are federally insured, even if a company dissolved or went bankrupt it may be possible to receive unclaimed benefits. Furthermore, The Retirement Equity Act of 1984 provides for benefits to be paid to surviving spouses. Spouses of deceased workers who did not opt out, therefore, should initiate a search if they feel they may be entitled to benefits not received.
The Pension Search Program, initiated in 1996, attempts to locate those entitled to unclaimed pension benefits. More than 36,000 employees are eligible to claim $300 million in pension benefits from terminated defined benefit pension plans have not been located. The maximum benefit payable is currently over $45,000 per year.
U.S. Federal Government Unclaimed
How To Find An Old 401 And What To Do With It
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list ofour partnersandhere’s how we make money.
The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks or securities.
There are billions of dollars sitting unclaimed in ghosted workplace retirement plans. And some of it might be yours if youve ever left a job and forgotten to take your vested retirement savings with you.
But no matter how long the cobwebs have been forming on your old 401, that money is still yours. All you have to do is find it.
You May Like: How Much Do I Need In My 401k To Retire
Search For Money From Employers
Unpaid Wages The Department of Labor may recover back wages for you if your employer broke labor laws. If you think you may be owed back wages from your employer:
Search DOLs database of workers who have money waiting to be claimed. DOL holds unpaid wages for up to three years.
Pensions from Former Employers Search for unclaimed pensions from companies that either:
Went out of business or
Ended a defined pension plan
Contact The 401 Plan Administrator
If your employer is no longer around, try getting in touch with the plan administrator, which may be listed on an old statement.
If youre unable to find an old statement, you still may be able to find the administrator by searching for the retirement plans tax return, known as Form 5500.
You can find a 5500s by the searching the name of your former employer at www.efast.dol.gov.
If you locate a Form 5500 for an old plan, it should have the contact information on it.
Recommended Reading: How To Open 401k For Small Business
How To Find Unclaimed Retirement Accounts
About 25 million people who changed jobs between 2004 and 2013 didnt take their retirement account along with them, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Seventeen states reported in a GAO survey that $35 million in unclaimed retirement savings was transferred to them from employer plans and individual retirement accounts in 2016.
What if youre one of those 25 million people who owns some of those millions? You can still reclaim it.
The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirements Benefits is a free online searchable resource. A former employer or financial institution will have had to register the one-time employee on the site as having an unclaimed retirement account. The site is operated by PenChecks Trust, an independent retirement plan benefit distribution processing service provider, and it does require entering personal information, including your Social Security number.
Other websites offering free help finding missing retirement accounts include the Department of Labor, which provides a form to seek direct assistance from a benefits advisor, if, for example, a former employer has gone out of business, filed bankruptcy, or been acquired by another company or merged with one.
If you know the name of your employer and the plan, you can also tap into DOLs Abandoned Plan Search feature to find plans that have been closed or are in the process of shutting down.
Kerry is a Senior Columnist and Senior Reporter at Yahoo Money. Follow her on Twitter
What Happens If I Have Unclaimed 401k Funds From A Previous Job
The majority of unclaimed money comes from brokerage, checking and savings accounts, along with annuities, 401s and Individual Retirement Accounts. Companies are required by law to mail abandoned funds to the owners last known address. If theyre returned or the owner cant be reached, the assets must be relinquished to the state.
Also Check: Can I Use My 401k To Purchase A House