Posted on 10 August 2012
By Mark Miller
When Frank Marroquin retired last year, he expected to live on his monthly $1,660 Social Security check, but then he remembered he was eligible for a pension from a former employer.
The 66-year-old Marroquin worked at MCC Powers from 1969 to 1982 and lost track of the company after it went through several mergers and ownership changes.
“I completely forgot about it,” he says of the pension. “You never think you will get to retirement age.”
Marroquin’s experience isn’t unusual, especially in today’s economy, where workers change jobs often – and companies frequently are bought, merged, moved or simply shut down. For former employees, staying in touch becomes more difficult as the changes multiply over time.
The odds of record-keeping errors also grow as companies change hands – and pension plan sponsors have trouble keeping track of former workers who might have moved, changed their names or died.
Unclaimed pension benefits simply stay in the pension plan, or with the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp (PBGC) in the case of terminated plans. That’s different from an unclaimed 401(k) or IRA account, which is the personal property of account holders or their beneficiaries.
Finding unclaimed pension benefits could make a huge difference to millions of Americans. About 23 million people over the age of 60 received pension benefits in 2010, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).
My column today at Reuters Money explains how to track down a lost pension.