How to find a lost pension
The Savvy SeniorDecember 12, 2012 | 1,548 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
How does one go about tracking down a lost pension? About 35 years ago, I worked at a manufacturing company for a few years that offered employee pensions, and I want to find out if I’m eligible for any money now that I’m about to retire.
Losing track of a small pension from years ago is actually quite common, especially if you’ve have had a lot of jobs throughout your working life. To help you locate a lost pension, here are the steps to take along with some free resources that can help you search if your previous employer has gone out of business, changed names or merged with another firm.
If you think you have a pension from a previous employer, and the company is still in business, your first step is to call their human resources department and ask them to give you the contact information of the pension plan administrator. Then you’ll need to contact them to find out how much your pension is worth and how to claim it.
Depending on how complete the plan administrator’s records are, you may need to show proof that you once worked for the company and that you are pension-eligible.
Your old income tax returns and W-2 forms from the years you worked at the company will help you here. If you haven’t saved your old tax returns from these years, you can get a copy of your earnings record from the Social Security Administration, which will show how much you were paid each calendar year by each employer.
Call 1-800-772-1213 and ask them to mail you the “Request for Social Security Earnings Information” form SSA-7050, or you can download it at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf. You’ll pay a small fee for the report, depending on the number of years of data you request.
Some other old forms that can help you prove eligibility are your Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD) that you should have received from your employer when you worked there, or any individual benefit statements.
Check the PBGC
If you can’t find your former employer because it went out of business, or, if the company ended its pension plan, you need to check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) online pension search directory at search.pbgc.gov/mp/mp.aspx. Or, you can call 1-800-400-7242 and get help over the phone.
The PBGC is a federal agency that guarantees pensions of bankrupt companies. The agency also maintains information on any pension plan that has been terminated, even if the company is still in business.
The PBGC, however, does not cover or have information on lost pensions that are still active, nor will they help you locate lost 401(k) plans.
The best resource to help you track down a lost active pension from a company that has moved or merged with another firm is the U.S. Administration on Aging Pension Counseling and Information Program. This free program encompasses seven pension assistance programs around the country that serve workers in 30 states. To get the contact information of these counseling programs and the states they serve, visit the Pension Rights Center website at pensionrights.org.
If your pension happens to be outside the area served by the pension counseling centers, or if you’re trying to locate a federal or military pension, use Pension Help America at pensionhelp.org. This resource can connect you with government agencies and private organizations that provide free information and assistance to help your search.
For more information, the PBGC has a free publication called Finding a Lost Pension that provides in-depth information that can aid in your search. See pbgc.gov to see it online, or call 1-800-400-7242 and ask them to mail you a copy.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)