Is it possible that you or someone you know may be owed a pension benefit without knowing it?
If you have ever changed jobs, or have been laid off, or have retired, you may have accrued pension assets and they may be lying in the state’s unclaimed property funds where you or your family member worked. Pensions are not as plentiful as they once were with all of the IRA’s, 401(k)s, and other self administered retirement programs, but there’s still plenty of cash left from people who forgot to claim them. There’s about $133 million in unclaimed pension funds, according to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal pension insurance program. Who also estimates that approximately 35,000 people are affected and may have pension money just sitting around.
The PBGC takes over pension plans if a company goes out of business. If the employer can’t locate people that have left the company, the PBGC tries to track them down. If you think you may have left a pension plan somewhere, you can check with the PBGC at search.pbgc.gov/mp/. There, you can type in your name and company in a search tool.
Private Pension Plans:
Many private pension plans are federally insured even if the company terminated its plan or filed bankruptcy, it is possible to retrieve these unclaimed pensions. Although the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation which was created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 has been successful in reuniting many people with their pensions, many people have not been located yet.
Former employees of certain companies, or their survivors, may be able to claim significant benefits as a result of a class action legal settlement. The benefits are payable under a 1996 settlement with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), involving some 12,000 pension plans nationwide that were terminated between 1976 and 1981.
If you worked for a company, for as little as 5 years, in the past that went out of business or ended its defined benefit pension plan, you may still be entitled to pension benefits. Workers in those plans who did not receive appropriate benefits are now entitled to them plus interest. Many thousands of missing workers identified thus far have received payments averaging between $10,000 and $12,000 as a result of the settlement with PBGC. However, thousands of employees or their survivors have not yet been paid because they have not been located.
Public Pension Plans:
Federal and State employees retirement plans are generally cover under some type of public Federal and State Employee Retirement Plans. As with all other jobs, these employees also leave this type of employment for many different reasons and leave behind unclaimed pension funds. The administrator of these plans are charged with locating these individuals to return their unclaimed funds. Many government retirement plan administrator are also trying to find lost participants to assist them (or their beneficiaries) in claiming their accounts.
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees. Congress established the TSP in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986. The purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income. The TSP offers Federal employees the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under "401(k)" plans. TSP regulations are published in title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1600–1690, and are periodically supplemented and amended in the Federal Register. (On October 30, 2000, the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act was signed; it extends participation in the TSP to members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve.
Every state in America holds millions of dollars worth of unclaimed pension funds that belongs to people who don’t even know that it exists. You may very well be among these people. It is important to locate your unclaimed pension funds. There are database you can access that contain over tens of thousands of unclaimed pension plan participants with the last known addresses and employer information, for whose account have been declared abandoned.