What are unclaimed retirement benefits and how to find them


Baby boomers held an average of 12 jobs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. During each job …

Baby boomers held an average of 12 jobs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. With every job change, retirement accounts can get lost in the reshuffle. Eventually, some employees may forget about these accounts altogether.

What are unclaimed retirement benefits?

Unclaimed pension benefits are pension account balances left by former pension plan members. Some people lose track of a retirement plan and need to find a lost 401 (k) later. “Life gets involved. You move on and forget, ”says David Curry, director and co-founder of East Paces Group in Atlanta. As retirement approaches, you may need to find old 401 (k) balances or pension plans.

Here’s how to find lost retirement savings:

1. Contact the human resources department of your former employer.

2. Look for unclaimed retirement benefits.

3. Work with a financial advisor.

[Read: How to Find an Old 401(k) Account.]

Contact your former employer

Some employees leave their pensions, 401 (k) or other retirement benefits in the care of their old company when they change jobs. Sometimes people forget about the retirement plans of a former employer.

If you think you left money with a former employer, call that company’s human resources department. Ask for the name and phone number of the plan administrator. “Press people for benefits. Stay on the phone with them until you get your answers, ”says Curry. “You have to ask the right questions. Find out where it is.

If your old business has gone out of business or been bought or merged with another business, it may take some research to find out who to contact, but funds may still be available. A retirement plan can cost a lot more money and require more financial advice. “Retreats can be a lot more complex,” says Curry. “Often they don’t know the pension payout or what their options are, but finding it is step 1.”

[Read: How to Find a Lost Pension Plan.]

Finding Unclaimed Pension Benefits

You can use the Internet’s resources to find a missing retirement account.

There are several websites where you can search for unclaimed retirement benefits:

– The database of abandoned plans of the Ministry of Labor.

– Researching pension benefit guaranty corporation trust plans.

– The National Register of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits.

– The National Association of Administrators of Unclaimed Property operates unclaimed.org.

– Search for form 5500 from the Ministry of Labor.

Most states maintain their own unclaimed property websites. The rules for unclaimed property may vary. For example, California law requires banks, insurance companies, corporations and other institutions to submit client property to the State Comptroller’s Office when there has been no activity for a period of time. time, usually three years. Check your state’s website for more information.

Most unclaimed 401 (k) accounts are small, but sometimes someone leaves behind a large amount of money. Kristian Finfrock, founder and financial advisor of Retirement Income Strategies in Evansville, Wisconsin, said a client discovered $ 190,000 that had been lost. “She knew he was lost, she just couldn’t find him,” Finfrock said. “The company has changed its archivist. They sent notices to clients’ homes, but she never responded to the mail. It was a bit of a hassle, but we found the property.

However, you have to be careful with the crooks. Sometimes people get a text with links or a postcard claiming to have unclaimed property, but it’s just scammers trying to get your personal information.

[Read: 401(k) Mistakes Job Hoppers Make.]

Work with a financial advisor

A financial advisor can help you manage various retirement accounts or find retirement benefits. Curry says lost or forgotten accounts sometimes come up during his first information gathering meeting with a client. “We start with a financial plan and start collecting data,” says Curry. “We discover them and their employers. We ask them, “After you left this company, did you incorporate that into another plan? During the exercise, we find buckets that they have forgotten or that need attention. ”

Make a list of every job you had and what you did with 401 (k) plan funds or other retirement benefits when you left the company. Some employers automatically enroll workers in a 401 (k) plan, withhold a small amount from employee paychecks, and deposit that money into a 401 (k) account. You could have been enrolled in a 401 (k) plan even if you never opened an account.

It’s a good idea to be proactive and consolidate retirement accounts every time you change jobs to make them easier to keep track of. “When you change jobs, there is little reason to leave money at an old company,” says Finfrock. “You should build it into the new business plan or build it into your own IRA. ”

Eric Bond, financial planner at Bond Wealth Management in Long Beach, Calif., Says he has a client who was unsure whether she had renewed a retirement account. She had recently received a letter from the company, and he called the 800 number on the letter and found an account that had not been moved.

Lost accounts can also occur when a spouse dies, especially if the deceased spouse was managing the family’s finances. The surviving spouse may have difficulty locating accounts, especially accounts in the name of the deceased spouse. To avoid the problem, Bond suggests creating a list of all accounts and account numbers and updating it every year, which he calls a playbook.

More American News

How much should you contribute to a 401 (k)?

9 ways to avoid the 401 (k) early withdrawal penalty and other fees

401 (k) Mistakes to Avoid

What are unclaimed retirement benefits and how to find them originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/22/21: This story was posted at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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