Missing Assets: Unclaimed Pension and Retirement Account Search
Find a Missing IRA, 401(k) or
Defined Benefit Pension
► IRA Individual Retirement Accounts
Approximately 50 million Americans own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) worth an estimated $3 trillion. Types of IRAs include:
About half of all IRAs are administered by and invested in various mutual funds. One-third are held in brokerage accounts, while bank deposits and life insurance annuities account for the remainder. Due to the long term nature of this type of investment, each year large numbers of owners and heirs - who may not be aware of a deceased family member's IRA or roll-over 401k - fail to claim accounts to which they're entitled.
While unclaimed 401(k) retirement plan assets come under the purview of federal guidelines mandated by ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974); missing and forgotten IRAs at banks, brokerages and insurance companies do not.The rules for determining how a dormant or unclaimed IRA is treated depends on the type of IRA and the state of residence of the owner. ... MORE
► 401(k) Plans
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates each year tens of thousands of workers fail to claim or rollover $850 million in 401k retirement plan assets when they change jobs. A disproportionate share of the missing are family members of deceased employees who fail to claim pension benefits stemming from employment that may have ended years earlier.
Another common problem: former employees of bankrupt companies are unable to locate their 401(k) accounts, because many insolvent businesses fail to provide for the administration of 401k plan assets when they cease operations. Participants in defined-contribution retirement plans such as the 401(k) are protected when their employers fail or otherwise cease operations, because they individually own the assets in their accounts. ... MORE
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 or merged, making them difficult to find.
Because many defined-benefit private pension plans are federally insured - even if a company dissolved or went bankrupt - it may be possible to receive unclaimed benefits. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) guarantees payment of basic pension benefits earned by workers and retirees in over 35,000 private sector defined benefit pension plans, with over $300 million available for claim. ... MORE
► TSP and Government Pensions
Records on two million former Civil Service workers are not automated, but rather stored in some 35,000 file cabinets by alphabetical order. This system does not permit sorting by age, a likely indicator of unclaimed and unpaid benefits. Because many government employee records at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Retirement Operations Center are not computerized, it's difficult to determine when a federal retirement benefit has gone unclaimed and unpaid.
Federal retirement benefits include Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) distributions, a defined-contribution plan similar to a 401(K) created by the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 to supplement FERS benefits. As of 2012, TSP accounts for 4.5 million participants - including federal civilian employees in all branches of government, U.S. Postal Service employees and members of the uniformed services - totaled $313 billion.
Unclaimed government retirement funds are not declared abandoned unless unclaimed by the employee's 115th birthday or 30 years after death; but virtually no effort is made to find lost employees owed government pension benefits. ... MORE
► Veteran Pension Benefits
VA helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension benefit programs. VA offers two broad categories of Pension benefit programs: Veterans Pension: Tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans. Survivors Pension: Tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.
Veterans and survivors who are eligible for pension benefits and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible to receive additional monetary amounts. http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/ ... MORE
► Railroad Retirement Benefits
The Railroad Retirement Act replaces Social Security for railroad employees, providing payment of retirement, disability and survivor benefits. Monthly benefits are payable to surviving widows, children, and certain other dependents at the time of death of a covered railroad employee. The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act also provides unemployment and sickness benefits for railroad employees, replacing unemployment insurance.
The Railroad Retirement Trust Fund is valued at approximately $18 billion. Currently 818,000 railroad retirees and heirs are eligible for benefits, but five percent of addresses on file are not current, because workers or family members have not made the proper notification. ... MORE