Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits

Whether caused by unemployment, boredom or a need to improve finances, job changes are ongoing occurrences in Americans’ lives. In the shuffle, many workers forget the retirement fund they left behind during the switch. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits aims at reconnecting employees with those earned benefits and to ease employers’ burden of trying to find their former staff.

Registry Overview

Operating under its parent company PenChecks Inc., the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits maintains a database of individuals with retirement funds to claim. As a processor of retirement distributions, PenChecks has access to a large list of people who have not come forward to claim their money. The registry’s database is partly populated by those names and partly filled with information that other organizations provide. The list is searchable at UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.com.

Using the Service

The service the national registry provides is free to employees and employers. Employees may look for forgotten retirement accounts online by typing their Social Security number in the appropriate box. After registering with the website, employers may begin to add participant information to the database. The system emails employers whenever someone whose record was uploaded searches the database.

Matchmaking

When someone’s Social Security number matches information in the database, the registry's online system displays the employer holding the retirement money. It also prompts the individual to record his contact information online, which the registry emails to the employer. The message triggers your former boss to send you the appropriate forms for you to fill out to claim your retirement benefits.

Considerations

The registry is limited by the information it has access to. If your former employer does not provide your account details to the online service, you may search it and find nothing. The best way to guarantee you will not miss out on receiving the money that belongs to you is to keep track of it. Whenever you leave an employer who sponsors a retirement fund, ask the benefits manager whether the money may remain in the account. If she advises you to transfer the cash, consider the options. A financial adviser can help you understand your choices. One of them may be to transfer the savings to a rollover IRA tax-free. Regardless of what you do when you change employment, always let the keeper of your retirement funds know how to reach you.

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About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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