How to Locate an Old 401(k) Plan?

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A 401(k) plan is a type of defined contribution retirement plan where you and your employer contribute money to an account, you choose how to invest the money, and you receive the balance upon retirement, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you've changed jobs several times, you may have a few different 401(k) plans.

Check your benefits files. You should have received paperwork about your 401(k) plan from your employer when you first qualified for the plan, and you also should have received quarterly statements from the financial institution managing the account. All of these documents should have contact information for the account manager, as well as balance and investment information. When you left your job, your employer should have sent you documents about managing your 401(k), including paperwork to help you roll over your investment into another retirement account.

Contact your former employer. The benefits administrator or human resources staff at your former employer’s office can help you locate your old 401(k) plan. If you did not roll over your old 401(k) into a new retirement account or into your new job’s retirement plan, your former employer’s benefits staff should still have documentation about your retirement plan. They will also have contact information for the financial institution that manages your old 401(k), so if they do not have the records you need, they can help you find the person who will.

Check government resources. Both the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits and the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation offer search tools to help you locate an old 401(k) plan. Both agencies track pension plans in the U.S. and maintain databases of plan participants who have not claimed dollars from these pensions. Note that for the National Registry, you will need your Social Security number; PBGC only asks that you search by your name or your employer’s name.

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