Undertaking A Registry Overview
Operating under its parent company PenChecks Inc., the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits maintains a database of individuals with retirement funds to claim. As a processor of retirement distributions, PenChecks has access to a large list of people who have not come forward to claim their money. The registrys database is partly populated by those names and partly filled with information that other organizations provide. The list is searchable at UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.com.
Follow These 2 Tips To Prevent This Issue
Discover Where Your Funds May Have Been Transferred
If your former employer does not have your old 401, you can search on the Department of Labors abandoned plan database. You will be able to search for your plan using the information you already have, including your name, your employers name and more. If you had a traditional pension plan and it no longer exists, you can search the U.S. Pension Guaranty Corp. database to find your unclaimed pension.
Finally, you may want to search the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. This service is available nationwide and has records of account balances unclaimed by former retirement plan participants.
Government And Military Pension Resource
Depending on your role in the military, some pensions are available to both veterans and their survivors. Be sure to refer to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information.
- Department of Veteran Affairs: If you or your deceased spouse is a veteran, you can find information on your pension at the VAs pension website.
- State government websites: If you were an employee of your state or local government, be sure to check your states government website to search for information regarding your pension.
- Federal and military resources: Other government employees and military members can find information regarding federal and military pensions through the Thrift Savings Plan, Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management websites.
How To Find Unclaimed Retirement Benefits
Many employers offer retirement accounts and benefits, and some will even match their employees contributions. However, most people leave employers several times throughout their careers. In leaving one job and taking on another, some employees forget to take their 401 or other retirement accounts with them. If theres a chance you have unclaimed retirement benefits but arent sure how to access them, knowing how to find your unclaimed retirement benefits can be extremely beneficial. Keep in mind that getting help from a financial advisor might save you a great deal of time in finding that money.
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How Retirement Benefits Can Go Missing
Its rare for a person to stay with one company an entire career. Additionally, some companies go out of business after several years of successful operations. With both people and companies in constant transition, it is common for people to lose track of their accrued retirement benefits. Whats more, people might know they have retirement benefits available to them but not know how to find what they have.
For example, lets say a person worked for a company from ages 25 to 35, but now is 45. The company the person worked for over a decade ago has gone under. That money is still completely their own, it just might be challenging to find them.
Does My Money Continue To Grow Even After I Leave
While the money is enrolled in the 401, it can continue to grow. However, if the fund converts to cash, it will no longer earn compound interest. It also wont be subject to the whims of the market, so its cash status could be good or bad. If your account balance is more than $5,000 and youre content with how your assets are allocated, you can leave the money where it is.
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Retirement Accounts: Federal Action Needed To Clarify Tax Treatment Of Unclaimed 401 Plan Savings Transferred To States
What happens if you lose track of some of your retirement fundssuch as a 401 from a prior employer? The companies holding those unclaimed accounts can take the money out and transfer it to states. States hold the money as lost property until the owners claim it.
But whenever money comes out of a tax-deferred account, there are taxes to consider. We looked at how IRS treats these transfers for tax purposes.
While there is some guidance from IRS and the Department of Labor on these transfers, IRS hasnt clarified tax reporting and withholding requirements for employers transferring unclaimed retirement funds. We recommended IRS do so.
Five $100 bills are on a table beside a broken piggy bank.
Unclaimed Retirement Benefits: Do You Have Money Lost In Old 401s And Pensions
There has been a wave of reporting over the last few years around the vast sums of money in unclaimed accounts in the US. Millions of Americans have forgotten or are completely unaware of money in their name from government payouts, bank accounts, and stock sales. But, by far, the largest numbers are held in unclaimed 401 and pension plans from previous employers.
The nonprofit National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators estimates that state and government treasuries are sitting on an excess of $33 billion in unclaimed assets. It seems like a good time for a reminder on how and where you might track down long-lost funded pensions or 401s in your name.
As we move between jobs, many people miss the fact that we may have been contributing to a 401 plan at our previous employer without even knowing it. Many employers will automatically enroll their employees in their 401 plan at a low contribution level. Even if you didnt fill out the paperwork or declined to auto-enroll, you may have built up a vested 401 balance in your name. As we move between jobs and regions, such plans can be forgotten and left behind still accruing value as time goes by.
Regardless of your situation with past/unclaimed accounts, I recommend contacting your current HR department at work or outside retirement specialist to begin a measured and clear-sighted approach to your retirement goals.
Roll Over The Old 401 Account Into Your Current Employers Plan
By rolling the old account into your current employers plan, youll be able to keep all your 401 accounts in one place, making it easier to keep track of them. However, most 401 plans have a limited number of investment offerings, so if youre not happy with your current plans options, youre probably better off rolling the old account into an IRA.
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How Do I Find My Old 401
If you’re not sure where your old 401 is, there are three places it could likely be. Here’s where to find your old 401:
Right where you left it, in the old account set up by your employer.
In a new account set up by the 401 plan administrator.
In the hands of your states unclaimed property division.
Heres how to start your search:
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Using The Registry Service
The service the national registry provides is free to employees and employers. Employees may look for forgotten retirement accounts online by typing their Social Security number in the appropriate box. After registering with the website, employers may begin to add participant information to the database. The system emails employers whenever someone whose record was uploaded searches the database.
Contact Your Old Employer About Your Old 401
Employers will try to track down a departed employee who left money behind in an old 401, but their efforts are only as good as the information they have on file. Beyond providing 30 to 60 days notice of their intentions, there are no laws that say how hard they have to look or for how long.
If its been a while since youve heard from your former company, or if youve moved or misplaced the notices they sent, start by contacting your former companys human resources department or find an old 401 account statement and contact the plan administrator, the financial firm that held the account and sent you updates.
If there was more than $5,000 in your retirement account when you left, theres a good chance that your money is still in your workplace account. You may be allowed to leave it there for as long as you like, until youre age 72, when the IRS requires you to start taking distributions, but you might not want to. Alternatively, you could do a 401 rollover to move that money into another retirement account.
The good news if a new IRA was opened for the rollover: Your money retains its tax-protected status. The bad: You have to find the new trustee.
Federal Insurance For Private Pensions
If your company runs into financial problems, you’re likely to still get your pension.
Insures most private-sector defined-benefit pensions. These are plans that typically pay a certain amount each month after you retire. These are single-employer plans. Multi-employer plans have different coverage.
Covers most cash-balance plans. Those are defined-benefit pensions that allow you to take a lump-sum distribution.
You Found Your 401 Plan Now What
If find your lost 401, congratulations! However, its not time to celebrate by blowing it all on a fancy vacation or a shopping spree. You invested that money with the purpose of building a retirement nest egg and thats exactly where those funds should stay.
To invest your old 401, you can do whats known as a rollover to avoid early withdrawal penalties. You can roll over the funds into an individual retirement account or into another retirement plan, such as your current employers 401.
Rolling over your 401 into an IRA is a relatively simple process. First, you need to open an IRA, which you can do though most banks, brokerage firms and robo-advisors. The funds from your old 401 then can be sent directly to your new IRA. If you prefer to keep all your investments in one place and your current employer offers a decent 401, then you may want to consider rolling over the funds into that account .
In both cases, you can avoid withholding taxes if you roll over the funds directly via the plan administrator. If a distribution is made directly to you, you have 60 days to deposit it into your new retirement account in order to avoid taxes and penalties.
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How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
People with disabilities
The surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits the Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Search For Unclaimed Money In Your State
Businesses send money to state-run unclaimed property offices when they cant locate the owner. The unclaimed funds held by the state are often from bank accounts, insurance policies, or your state government.
- Search for unclaimed money using a multi-state database. Perform your search using your name, especially if youve moved to another state.
- Verify how to claim your money. Each state has its own rules about how you prove that youre the owner and claim the money.
National Database For Missing Plan Participants Formed
PenChecks, Inc., a large independent qualified plan benefit distribution processing organization, has established The National Registry as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The National Registry is a website where plan sponsors, plan administrator, custodians, or other plan service providers can register the names of missing plan participants who have unclaimed retirement funds. Individuals who think they may have old 401k accounts simply enter their social security number and the database is searched for any nationwide matches. If there are any matches, the person shown who the employer is that has retirement money and is also asked to provide your current contact information so that this employer may contact them and make arrangements for distribution.
According to the company, it is an excellent and cost effective way for plan sponsors to try to locate their missing participants. For a nominal fee per missing participant, the National Registry maintains a database that’s accessible to anyone nationwide to help former employees find abandoned retirement money.
The firm will automatically notify the plan sponsor when a missing participant does locate money using the site. They will send the plan sponsor an email with the missing participant’s new contact information so that the plan sponsor can make arrangements to pay them out.
You can find out more at www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com.
Rick Meigs, President, 401khelpcenter.com, LLC
How To Find An Old 401 And What To Do With It
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There are billions of dollars sitting unclaimed in ghosted workplace retirement plans. And some of it might be yours if youve ever left a job and forgotten to take your vested retirement savings with you.
But no matter how long the cobwebs have been forming on your old 401, that money is still yours. All you have to do is find it.
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Find Lost 401k: How To Find Out If You Have Lost Or Forgotten Retirement Accounts
Here is a guide for how to find lost money a lost 401k or other unclaimed retirement benefits.
Finding a lost 401k or other retirement account is more tedious than metal detector treasure hunting,but perhaps more rewarding.
A few years ago, I received a strange notice in the mail: a former employer was discontinuing their retirement plan and I had 30 days to either roll my balance into a different account or receive a distribution from the plan. This sort of thing happens quite often when people change jobs and leave their retirement account in the old employers plan. The strange thing about this notice was, I had no idea Id been participating in the plan while I worked there!
Could the same thing have happened to you? If youre looking for ways to increase your retirement savings, you just may want to look for lost or forgotten retirement accounts.
Roll Over The Old 401 Account Into An Ira
This will likely be the best option for most people because the IRA is attached to you instead of your employer, making it less likely that youll lose track of the account again. An IRA also comes with a much wider selection of investments than most 401 plans. Youll be able to choose from individual stocks as well as mutual funds, ETFs and more.
If you dont already have an IRA, youll need to set up an account before you roll over your 401. The process is fairly straightforward and you can open an IRA through most online brokers.
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Track Down Previous Employer Via The Department Of Labor
If you cant find an old statement, you may still be able to track down contact information for the plan administrator via the plans tax return. Many plans are required to file an annual tax return, Form 5500, with the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor . You can search for these 5500s by the name of your former employer at www.efast.dol.gov. If you can find a Form 5500 for an old plan, it should have contact information on it.
Once you locate contact information for the plan administrator, call them to check on your account. Again, youll need to have your personal information available.
Evaluating The Matchmaking Process
When someones Social Security number matches information in the database, the registry’s online system displays the employer holding the retirement money. It also prompts the individual to record his contact information online, which the registry emails to the employer. The message triggers your former boss to send you the appropriate forms for you to fill out to claim your retirement benefits.