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Pot of Gold: How to Find Your Lost Pension

CONTACT: Judith Welles, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
or Gary Pastorius, Public Affairs Officer (202) 326-4040

July 22, 1999

Enhanced Internet Pension Search, New Guidebook Aid Those Missing Pensions

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced expansion of its Internet Pension Search in an effort to locate nearly 10,000 people owed more than $19 million in pension benefits. To reconnect people with missing retirement money, PBGC will now include last-known addresses of those named in the Pension Search listing and will provide tips for self-searches for unclaimed pensions in a new guide, "Finding A Lost Pension."

"PBGC's expanded pension search promises to help more Americans make sure they will receive all the pension money they earned," said Alexis M. Herman, Secretary of Labor and Chairman of PBGC's Board of Directors.

Since the last announcement, PBGC has added some 3,000 names and is now searching for 9,887 people who worked for about 1,400 employers in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Internet address for Pension Search is

"PBGC's commitment to retirement income security includes a vigorous program for locating people who are owed pensions but may not know it. We want people to receive all the retirement money they are owed and the new booklet, "Finding a Lost Pension," and last-known addresses are innovations that improve the odds for a successful pension search," said PBGC Executive Director David M. Strauss.

The Pension Search gives names and, for the first time, last-known addresses of workers who have pension money coming from terminated defined benefit pension plans. Terminated plans were either closed by former sponsors who distributed the benefits, or taken over by PBGC because they lacked enough money to pay benefits. Also included are unlocated 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 Pension Action Center at the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, partnered with PBGC in developing "Finding A Lost Pension." The new booklet explains the kinds of information needed for a search, suggests potential allies and details numerous information sources. It is available on the Internet at or from PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Dept., 1200 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20005-4026.

PBGC works continuously to locate missing people owed pension benefits, using information from credit bureaus, commercial locator services and telephone listings. PBGC does not endorse firms that offer to locate missing pension benefits for a fee because the information is available free from many sources including the Pension Search Directory and others listed in "Finding A Lost Pension." To avoid becoming a missing pension plan participant, workers should tell their employer when they move and hold on to any pension-related information.

Once people find their names in the Pension Search Directory, they provide PBGC further details for verification of identity which generally takes 4-6 weeks. After PBGC receives a completed application, people eligible for a benefit begin receiving checks within two months. Those entitled to future benefits will receive them at retirement age.

To date, 1,745 people who worked for 520 different employers were found in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico -- with 421 in California, 153 in New York, 102 in Illinois, and 99 in Texas. Benefits for the located people totalled over $5 million and ranged from a few dollars to more than $100,000, averaging about $4,000 per person found.

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 42 million American workers and retirees participating in more than 44,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The agency receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and investment returns.


[TABLE - PBGC Pension Search Program, State Data as of July 22, 1999]

PBGC No. 99-28

Using the Internet to Find Workers Owed a Pension

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