4. Check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, otherwise known as the PBGC, is a federal corporation that was created to protect the pension rights of the more than 44 million American workers and retirees who are enrolled in private employer defined benefit plans. As of 2007 (the most recent year for which data is available), the PBGC was holding more than $133 million in unclaimed pension benefits for 32,000 people.
I find this simply amazing. There are 32,000 people who worked at a company for years, earned themselves a pension, but never collected it! According to the PBGC, the average recipient on its unclaimed assets list is owed $4,950—but at least one account is worth $611,028!
If you're wondering whether it's worth your while to go to the PBGC website to see if you might have any missing pension benefits coming to you, here's a fact to consider: Over the last 12 years, more than 22,000 retirees have used it to collect $137 million in previously unclaimed benefits. I call that found money!
So if you or a relative of yours ever worked for a company with a Defined Benefit Plan (not a a01ft) plan), head right now to the PBGC website and do a search to see if you have any unclaimed benefits coming to you. Here's how it works: On the home page, click on the tab labeled "Find Missing Participants" and follow the instructions to run a search. You should also download the PBGC booklet "How to Find a Lost Pension." In just 40 pages, it covers everything you need to know about searching for lost benefits. (You can also get this booklet for free by writing to PBGC Communications and Public Affairs Department, 1200 K St., NW Washington, DC 20005-4026.)
Here's an important tip from the PBGC that can save you from someday becoming a "missing participant": If you are or ever have been enrolled in a defined benefit plan, always keep your employer informed of your current address and any name change, even after you stop working for them. It is especially important that you continually let your former employers know whenever you move so they can always find you in the event you are owed a benefit.
Next: Check with the IRS