"Missing" Participants Reunite with $10 Million

October 4, 2000 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nearly five thousand pensioners have been reconnected with their "missing" pensions totaling some $10 million during the past year, thanks to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) Pension Search Directory.

Since its launch in December 1996, the Pension Search Directory has located some 6,600 people eligible for $21 million in pension benefits earned, but not received.

Generally these funds come from companies that terminated their pension plan before all beneficiaries were located, or underfunded plans that were unable to pay benefits when the plan was terminated.

While the 6,600 people “found” to date are in 48 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, over half are from just five states, New York (1,089), California (969), Ohio (399), Pennsylvania (376) and Texas (374). Benefits for those found averaged $4,200, ranging from $2.00 to $111,000.

The Directory currently has information about some 12,000 missing pension plan participants, with $27 million in pension benefits.

Of the 12,000 currently in the database, over half are from six states:

  • 2,038 in California
  • 1,901 in New York
  • 840 in Texas
  • 609 in New Jersey
  • 608 in Michigan
  • 607 in Illinois

Their benefits average about $2,600, ranging from under $1.00 to $196,000. The Directory also includes unallocated people who may be able to document that they are owed a benefit, even though current PBGC records show that no benefit is due.

The PBGC recommends that workers hold on to any pension-related information and make sure to tell their employer when they move or change names.

The PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to guarantee payment of basic pension benefits earned by about 43 million American workers and retirees participating in nearly 40,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans.

– Nevin Adams              editors@plansponsor.com

More information is at the PBGC’s Web site including “Finding A Lost Pension,” a booklet that explains the kinds of information needed for a search.