|Defined Benefit Pensions: Pension plan administrators make little
effort 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 private
pension plans are federally insured, even if a company dissolved or
went bankrupt it may be possible to receive unclaimed benefits.
401 (k) Plans: Each year some 33,000
workers fail to claim or rollover $850 million in 401(k) retirement plan
assets. A disproportionate share of the missing are former employees of
failed smaller companies, which, when they cease operations, may not
provide or plan for administration of employee 401k plan assets.
Retirement funds invested in
401(k) and other defined-contribution retirement plans belong to the
employee, so 401k plan participants are protected when an employer files
for bankruptcy or otherwise ceases business. Because plan assets
continue to earn interest and accumulate capital gains, amounts that can
be reclaimed may now be quite substantial.
institutions holding the funds - banks and brokerages appointed by the
plan administrator - make little if any effort to locate lost employees
and missing participants, because by law their responsibility is to the
For information on tracing
and claiming missing
pension benefits and 401(k) plan retirement assets order our Special Report: Unclaimed
Pension & Retirement Plan Search