There are many different reasons pension benefits aren’t claimed or paid out to you as the employee who rightfully earned the money or to your beneficiaries. You could have changed jobs and simply forgotten that you have earned a pension from your previous employer. A company you once worked for may have changed its name, been acquired by another company or gone bankrupt. If you become very ill or die before you reach retirement age, your family might not know about the pension benefits they are eligible to receive as your beneficiaries.
Overlooking this important source of retirement funds is a mistake you can’t afford to make. Fortunately, there are ways you can find the funds due to you and prove that you are eligible to receive them. It will take some research, but it is well worth the effort to locate monies that can help pay your bills and improve your financial health for you and your family in retirement.The goal of your research is to find the pension that you’ve earned and prove that you are the person who should receive it. In most cases this is simple to do. However, when job changes and company reorganizations hide the money, so to speak, you’ll have to do some digging yourself to uncover it. Money went unclaimed decades ago because the time and cost of tracking it down was too high for most people. Today, the internet provides the tools you need to search quickly and effectively for unclaimed or lost pension benefits. If you don’t feel comfortable doing internet searches yourself, a family member, friend or public reference librarian can show you how to get started.If the company for which you worked experienced mergers, divisions or bankruptcy, it can be difficult to determine which entity is responsible for paying your pension benefit. By law, your benefit should be held for you no matter how many changes have occurred in the company since you worked there. There are cases in which the company has disappeared along with your pension funds, but those cases are not common.
An internet search is a good way to begin the investigation into the money you may be owed. You can simply enter the company name and the term “pension” into a search engine, whether it’s the current name or the name the company was using when you left. Extra search terms, such as the date the company changed its name or went out of business, are helpful. The employer identification number (EIN), printed on W2 forms, can also be very helpful.
You may find the information you need quickly, but there are times when you’ll need to dig deeper. There are a number of organizations that may be able to help you find the pension plan. A union that represented workers at the company may have information, even if you weren’t a member at that time. Chamber of Commerce officials in the town in which the company was located might have information on the company’s current name or location.
The target of your search should be the person or company that administers the pension plans. The plan administrator will have access to the records that prove you worked for the company and are owed a pension. If you’re looking for the plan rather than the company that employed you, you may be able to find the answers you need through a search of its annual financial reports. When financial reports aren’t helpful or available, you might be able to identify the plan administrator with help from the state government in which the plan is headquartered or from a specialized business library that can provide information on changes due to acquisitions or mergers.
Finding unclaimed or unpaid pension benefits owed to you isn’t impossible, but you and your family need to be prepared to do the research necessary to uncover it. Some companies offer to do the work for you for a fee. However, with some tools at hand and the willingness to undertake some detective work, you’ll likely uncover the money yourself.