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Here’s how to hunt for missing retirement money

Workers who change jobs may leave retirement money

Workers who change jobs may leave retirement money behind without knowing it. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Bill Oxford

The days of working for one company for 30 years are all but gone. Most people have multiple employers. You may have left more than memories behind; make sure you keep track of all your retirement benefits.

“We constantly help clients uncover lost benefits. It could be a 401(k) account, 403(b), a terminated pension plan, employee stock option plan, profit sharing plan and more,” says Mark Fried, author of “Road Rules for Retirement.”

Not only can you lose track of what you had, Fried contends some retirement plan providers make it difficult to transfer money from your employer’s plan to an IRA or another retirement plan, because “every dollar that leaves a retirement plan represents less money that they can earn fees on.”

If you’re thinking/hoping you have lost retirement money, here’s where to hunt.

  • Make a list of former employers: Just because you didn’t participate in a retirement program doesn’t mean there isn’t money left behind. Many plans, such as a profit sharing plan or safe harbor plan, require employers to put money away for your retirement, even if you are not directly participating in their plan. Some pension plans vest over time, so you may have qualified for a small pension without knowing it.
  • Reach out: For a corporate pension plan, contact the human resources department of your former employer. If the business is no longer around, contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (pbgc.com) and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (dol.gov/agencies/ebsa). “Another source is the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits,”(unclaimedretirementbenefits.com) says James Lubin, CEO of Beacon Hill Private Wealth Management in Woodbury.

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