Locating Lost Pensions

June 8, 2022
David Bonello, Attorney for Trellis Pension and Retirement Rights

The average American changes jobs 12 times over the course of their career, often leaving behind retirement benefits with these ex-employers. Adding to this challenge, many companies merge with other companies, or are bought and sold, making it hard for individuals to find their “lost pensions.”

Too often individuals work decades to earn retirement income that goes unclaimed as they approach retirement. If you think you may be entitled to money in a pension fund, here are a few best practices to help you track down the benefit:

  1. Gather documents. You should collect and keep in one place any documents that address your eligibility for a pension. These documents may include a benefit statement, notification that you are vested in the plan, or a notice of Potential Private Retirement Benefit from the Social Security Administration.
  2. Contact your former employer or former colleagues. If you are not successful in reaching your former employer, it may be helpful to reach out to a former colleague that is receiving a retirement benefit from this employer. They may be able to provide insight on how they accessed their retirement benefit.
  3. Contact the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). EBSA may be able to provide the contact information for the pension plan administrator based on federal filings.
  4. Contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC maintains a database of unclaimed pension benefits from some terminated pension plans.

If you are nearing retirement age and need assistance locating your retirement plans, the ACL-funded network of Pension Counseling and Information Program grantees may be able to help. My organization, Trellis Pension and Retirement Rights, serves the Midwest region and can be reached by calling 1-866-783-5021 or by e-mailing pensions@trellisconnects.org.

Last modified on 06/08/2022

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