The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated guidelines for fiduciaries to track down missing participants in defined contribution plans who are no longer employed by the plan sponsor. While Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2014-01 (which replaces Field Assistance Bulletin 2004-02) applies only to defined contributions that are terminating, it provides useful guidance to fiduciaries in finding missing or unresponsive participants.
It is estimated that in 2010, there was $1 trillion in orphaned retirement accounts. As individuals continue to have more and more jobs during their professional careers, the number of accounts and dollars within these accounts can be expected to grow.
Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2014-01 requires that, at a minimum, fiduciaries take the following steps to find missing participants:
- Use certified mail
- Check related plan and employer records
- Check with designated plan beneficiary
- Use free electronic search tools
If fiduciaries are unable to locate missing participants using the above steps, they should consider the participant’s account balance and the expense associated with additional search efforts in determining whether additional search steps are appropriate.
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