Searching for Missing 401k Participants?

Chances are you have a number of missing 401k participants who have moved and not provided a current address.  As a Plan Sponsor you have a duty to make every effort to locate these individuals.

search for missing 401k plan participants

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First, you should exhaust all internal sources, which may include verifying last known addresses on other items such as health plans or even contacting known beneficiaries. Other popular options include the following:

Vendor Search Several vendors offer services, for a nominal fee, to locate missing participants. An advantage of vendor searches is that any findings can be used to update your plan records for future communications with the participant.

IRS Missing Participant Program The IRS offers a mail forwarding service to missing retirement plan participants. This can be a effective means of getting distribution paperwork along with a collection of quarterly statements to the account owner. The downside is that the new address is not communicated back to you and it generally takes time.

If interested, send a cover memo and the mail to be forwarded to:

Letter Forwarding Unit, Disclosure 6

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

1301 Clay Street, Suite 840-S

Oakland, California 94612

Default Rollover If your 401k plan allows for it, you may be able to do an automatic rollover into an IRA. This generally only applies to account values less than $5,000.  Most vendors offer a streamlined default rollover IRA service for this option and they can assist you with the process.

To learn more about tracking down missing 401k participants, please contact your 401k Advisors.

Related Topics
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About Peter Philipp, CFA, CFP®

Peter Philipp specializes in employee benefits and investment management for businesses and individuals. In 1993, he helped launch the world’s first target-date funds, a concept which has become the cornerstone of today’s 401(k) plans. Peter holds both the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, an elite distinction since less than half of 1% of all financial advisors are “dually‐certified.”


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