Trying to locate a pension from an old employer may not be easy. However, there are a few tips and resources available that may aid you in your search.
We will discuss some tips in tracking down a pension that is held by a company that is either no longer in business or has been bought or merged with an another competitor.
The first and obvious step is to attempt to look up and contact your former employer. If the company has since closed or been sold, this done not mean that your pension is gone.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation should be your next point of contact. They maintain a computerized list of individuals who are entitled to pension benefits from pension plans under their jurisdiction that cannot be located because of an address change or other misinformation.
This does not mean that simply because your old employer has closed down that your name and pension will be administered by the PBGC, but it’s a good place to start.
Search the PBGC database here by participant or company name.
The PBGC currently has approx 38,000 names of persons who are entitled to benefits and cannot be located.
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
If the previous step yields no results, you should contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Their toll-free number is 1-866-444-3272.
The EBSA will be able to look up the Tax ID number for the plan. Remember, these plans are regulated and filing is required each year. However, if the company has been out of business for more than 6 years the EBSA may not have any records of this.
Finding a lost pension is like a search for a lost city or person. It may not be easy, and you must be willing to put the time and effort to piece the puzzle together.
Your old employer may have changed names or merged several time since you last worked for the company.
Finally, if you try the methods above and are unsuccessful in locating your lost pension, I recommend ordering a free booklet called “Finding a Lost Pension” (.pdf) from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. This can be done by calling the PBGC at 1-866-444-3272 and requesting a copy.