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How to Find Lost Pensions

Once some people establish a retirement plan, they never make any changes to it thereafter. Individuals with an employer-sponsored plan sometimes change jobs, join the new employer's plan and end up forgetting about the old plan. If a participant moves without forwarding his address, the plan sponsor may have a hard time locating him. Further, if the company sponsoring the plan moves or undergoes a buy-out, it may be difficult to find it. Still, with some research, you can locate your lost pension.

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  1. Contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) granted the Department of Labor (DOL) with the responsibility of protecting the pension rights of private sector workers. EBSA is affiliated with the DOL. Regional EBSA offices (See Resources) help those experiencing trouble their pension plan. EBSA's advisers are knowledgeable in all areas of ERISA and can help you to find your lost pension.

  2. Visit the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) website. The PBGC is responsible for finding missing plan participants with unclaimed benefits. To begin your search, from the main PBGC's website, click on "Find Missing Participants". You will need the participant's last name, company name or state.

  3. Visit your local library. Most libraries are equipped with printed directories and computerised databases that can help you to track down a company. The directories may include any mergers or buy-outs that might have occurred. If you are unsure of how to perform the search, ask a librarian to assist you.

  4. Contact your previous employer. If you are able to locate the employer who sponsored the plan, call and ask about your pension. The financial institution (for example, Merrill Lynch or John Hancock) that manages the company's retirement funds is also responsible for notifying it of all related changes. Your past employer should know the status of your retirement account. Further, many companies have a plan administrator responsible for benefits administration, including pension. Ask the plan administrator to help you, if there is one.

  5. Try all possible avenues. Contact former coworkers who might be receiving statements or pension checks from the company. If applicable, contact the union that represented the employees at the firm. The Chamber of Commerce in the city where the company was located may know its new address or who purchased it.

  6. Tip

    Contact the Social Security Administration if you are due Social Security pension funds.

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About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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