Article originally published on Kiplinger here: https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T001-C000-S002-catch-up-with-forgotten-401-k-s.html
Millions of workers who changed jobs left more than a coffee mug behind. Billions of dollars in retirement assets are being held by former employers or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), which inherits pensions from companies that have shut down their plans. Over time, workers may forget about 401(k)s and pensions or lose track of them as former employers merge, change names or close. Or their employer may itself lose track of them. The result is that retirees—and their survivors—are missing out on benefits.
Now, efforts are under way to make it easier to reunite workers with the lost money. The PBGC, which tries to find missing participants owed benefits from terminated private pensions, recently launched a similar, voluntary program for 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans.
Employers can transfer money from 401(k) accounts—starting with accounts terminated this year—to the PBGC, which will then search for the workers and pay out the benefits. Or the employer can notify the PBGC of the name of the financial institution holding the money. If the PBGC can’t find the workers, they’ll be added to the agency’s “missing participants” database (www.pbgc.gov/wr/missing-participants), where anyone who suspects they have missing retirement money can search for unclaimed benefits.