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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: South Texas~29N/98W
$75,000,000- what is 4% SWR?
Some 26,000 Americans have $75 million in pension money sitting unclaimed at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the government agency that takes over pensions when companies are unable to fund their plans.
"It's not uncommon for someone to work enough years to qualify for the pension early in their career, but it doesn't really register with them," said Jeffrey Speicher, a PBGC spokesman.
"They work someplace from [age] 20 to 27, they've accrued enough credits to be owed some amount of pension, and then they move on to another job, they move to another state, their lives change and they lose track of that accrued pension amount," he said.
The average benefit waiting for its owner is $3,675, but the highest individual sum is $264,548, a hefty amount to leave behind and a likely indicator of either death or illness. "The poor individual might have suffered an accident," Speicher said.
That means potential heirs might want to investigate whether a deceased relative left behind an untapped pension. The PBGC Web site's search function enables those who think they or a relative might have unclaimed benefits to search the PBGC database by name.
"We encourage people to search for their relatives or on behalf of friends who might not have Internet access," he said. Go to the PBGC Pension Search page.
The states with the greatest number of missing pensioners are New York, with about 5,436 people eligible for $23.55 million; California, where 2,929 people could claim $5.85 million; Texas, 1,747 people and $5.32 million; New Jersey, 1,388 people and $5.3 million; and Pennsylvania, 1,321 pensioners and $4.28 million.
More than 19,000 people have claimed $75 million in lost benefits over the last eight years. Most of the unclaimed benefits were accrued by workers in the airline, steel, transportation, machinery, retail, apparel and financial-services industries, the PBGC said.
While many of the pension benefits handled by the PBGC are those of bankrupt companies, like Bethlehem Steel, don't think your former employer had to go bankrupt for pension assets to be held by the agency.
The PBGC also holds pensions for companies that have terminated their pension plans but are still operating. In those cases, the company pays out benefits to the employees it can find, but the PBGC holds benefits for missing workers.
"Hundreds and hundreds of pension plans end that way every year, Speicher said. "They'll either give individuals the lump sum or they'll go out to the private annuity market and purchase annuities for everyone in their plan, but the company itself gets out of the pension business."
A few of the 26,000 people in the unclaimed-funds database are not eligible for any money, but that's a situation they can contest, Speicher said.
"We encourage anybody on the list to call if they have information that will contradict ours. Perhaps the plan record has their date of birth wrong and they're older than the records indicate, or their date of hire is incorrect," he said.
"Then perhaps they are owed more than zero. That can be researched and the correct amount can be paid."
Part-Owner of Texas
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx
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