Question: I worked for ABC Company for about 15 years from 1985 to 2000. It had a pension plan and when I left they told me I was vested and could begin receiving benefits when I was 65. I am almost 65 and am having trouble finding the plan. I recently learned ABC Company was sold about 10 years ago and the company that bought them later went out of business. How can I find the plan and start getting my benefits?
You ask a good question and you are not alone. Many people lose track of pension plans when former employers move, merge, change names or go out of business. There are several ways to find these “Lost Pensions.” The first step is to gather all the information you can about your plan, such as the plan’s summary plan description or your individual benefit statements. The next step for a defined benefit plan (a kind of retirement plan that promises to pay a specific monthly benefit for life) is to contact the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (the “PBGC”). The PBGC is a federal government agency that oversees the termination of most private-defined benefit pension plans. Most private-defined benefit pension plans that terminate must file reports with the PBGC. If the pension plan could not locate all the plan participants, then the PBGC may have records of those lost participants. The PBGC may also take over the plan. Thus, checking with the PBGC can be a very good way to find your pension. They may even be looking for you! You can contact the PBGC at (800) 400-7242 or on their website at www.pbgc.gov
If your plan was not terminated, it is possible it is being administered by a different company. Iowa Legal Aid may be able to help locate this plan.
For help in finding a “Lost Pension” or for other questions about pensions or retirement plans, contact Iowa Legal Aid’s Pension Rights Project at 800-992-8161.