If you have contributed to a 401(k) at a former employer or think that you may have contributed to a 401(k) at a former employer below are some steps that you can take to help you locate information about your old 401(k) Plan:
1) The easiest and most effective method of locating an old 401(k) is to contact your old employers. Ask them to check their Plan records to see if you ever participated in the 401(k) Plan. Be prepared to have your full name, social security number, and the dates that you worked for them available.
2) Due to a number of companies going out of business in recent years, it is possible that your former employer is no longer around. Even if your previous employer has declared bankruptcy or undergone a merger, your money is protected by federal laws. In these cases, try to locate an old 401(k) Plan statement to see if it contains any contact information for the firm that administered the Plan. If so, call the contact number and ask them if they can check on your account. Again be prepared to have your personal information available.
3) Most Plans are required to file an annual “Form 5500” with the U.S. Government. You can search for these 5500’s by the name of your former employer at a free website like www.efast.dol.gov. If you can find a Form 5500 of an old Plan, it should have contact information on it.
4) Check with The National Registry at www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com to see if your former employer has listed you as a missing participant. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits is a secure search website designed to help both employers and former employees. Former employees can perform a free, secure database search to determine if they may be entitled to any unpaid retirement account money and employers can register names, for free, of former employees who have left money with them.
5) If the amount of your old 401(k) was less than $5,000, then your former employer may have rolled the funds into an IRA account. In this case, you can search for free on the FreeERISA website for 401(k) pension plans and IRA accounts at www.benefitspro.com.
I hope that this blog was informative and able to get you started on your 401(k) plan search.