Retirement benefits are a vital source of income for many people after they stop. However, many individuals are unaware of unclaimed retirement benefits they might be eligible to receive. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, over $40 billion in unclaimed assets, including retirement benefits, are currently held by state governments and other agencies. If you suspect you might have unclaimed retirement benefits, there are several ways to find them.


Former employers


The first step in finding unclaimed retirement benefits is to check with your former employers. Employers are required to keep records of all employee benefits, including retirement plans. If you have lost touch with your former employer, you can try contacting their human resources department or pension plan administrator to request information about any retirement benefits you might be entitled to.


Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation


Another option is to contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is a federal agency which protects the retirement benefits of workers in private-sector defined benefit pension plans. If your former employer went out of business or terminated their pension plan without fully funding it, the PBGC may have taken over the plan and could be holding unclaimed retirement benefits on your behalf. You can use the PBGC’s online database to search for unclaimed pension benefits.


Financial institutions


Consider any financial institutions where you might have had retirement accounts, such as banks, brokerage firms or mutual fund companies. If you have moved or changed jobs frequently, it is possible you forgot about some of your retirement accounts. Many financial institutions have online tools allowing you to search for unclaimed accounts using your name and Social Security number.


National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits


In addition to checking with employers and financial institutions, you can also search for unclaimed retirement benefits through state and federal databases. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits is a free online service that helps individuals search for unclaimed retirement benefits. The database contains information on retirement accounts which have been abandoned by their owners, including 401(k) plans, pensions and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). To use the service, you will need to provide your personal information, such as your name and Social Security number, and the database will search for any unclaimed retirement benefits matching your information.


State unclaimed property department


If you are unable to locate any unclaimed retirement benefits through these methods, it is possible your benefits have already been turned over to the state’s unclaimed property department. Each state has a department responsible for holding unclaimed property, including retirement benefits, until the rightful owner can be located. To search for unclaimed property in your state, you can visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website, which provides links to each state’s unclaimed property department.


Comprehensive retirement plan


Unclaimed retirement benefits can provide a much-needed source of income for retirees; however, it is also important to properly manage your benefits and capital during your retirement years. This will ensure you are able to maintain the quality of life you want after you stop working. Having a comprehensive retirement plan is essential.