PBGC protects pensions. So, what is a pension? To most people, a pension is a retirement arrangement in which your employer promises you a regular payment from the day you retire, for as long as you live. The amount of your pension usually depends on how long you worked for an employer and your salary with that employer. Ask a retiree, "What is a pension?" and they may say,
"A pension is the $400 per month I receive for my many years of service at Acme Widgets. My pension helps to supplement the $600 per month I receive from Social Security and my retirement savings."
Normally, employees must work for an employer for a certain time period before the benefits they have earned belong to them. After they have done so, they are considered "vested" in those benefits. Today, in some pension plans, you are fully vested after five years on the job. In others, it takes you seven years to become fully vested - but you become vested in increasing portions of your benefit starting at three years. If you've worked for more than one company long enough to become vested in multiple pension plans, you can receive more than one pension payment.
Across the country, there are more than 38,000 people who haven't claimed pension benefits they are owed. Those unclaimed pensions equal a total of over $300 million dollars, with individual benefits ranging from twelve cents to almost a million dollars.
The states with the most missing pension participants and money to be claimed are:
- New York (7,031/$42.38 million)
- Illinois (4,129/$79.63 million)
- California (3,082/$8.52 million)
- Texas (2,487/$12.32 million)
- New Jersey (2,288/$12.84 million)
- Ohio (2,109/$15.22 million)