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News & Policy

PBGC Finds People Owed a Total of $1 Million in Pension Benefits

January 15, 1997

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) located 275 hard-to-find people owed $1,147,750 in pension benefits in the month since launching a Pension Search Directory on the Internet.

"These are the hardest-to-find pension earners or their survivors and we are determined to find them. The pension benefit is waiting for them to claim," said PBGC Executive Director Martin Slate.

The Department of Labor and PBGC initiated the Pension Search Directory on December 3 to help locate nearly 3,000 people owed $10 million in pension money from terminated defined benefit pension plans. Those found to date are owed benefits ranging from about $6.00 to almost $66,000. The Pension Search Directory is available on the Internet at http:// or by telephone at 1-800-326-LOST.

People were found in 41 states, with 39 in Ohio, 30 in Pennsylvania, 25 in Michigan, 19 in Connecticut, 15 in Indiana, 15 in Florida, 13 in North Carolina and 13 in New Jersey. They worked for 115 companies.

Between December 3 and January 13, people tapped into the Pension Search Directory on the Internet over 88,500 times as they sought to find out if they were owed pension benefits.

Once PBGC is contacted by persons who find their names in the directory, PBGC asks the former workers to provide more personal details including proof of age and other vital statistics. The identification process generally takes 4-6 weeks. Once PBGC receives a completed application, people currently eligible for a benefit should receive their checks within two months. Those entitled to future benefits will receive their benefits when they reach retirement age.

The Internet directory will be updated quarterly with the names of more missing people. The current list identifies 565 companies, primarily in the airline, steel, transportation, machinery, retail trade, apparel and financial services industries, that closed pension plans in which some former workers could not be found.

Many of the names in the Pension Search Directory are workers with pensions whose former employers closed pension plans and distributed benefits. Others are workers or retirees missing from underfunded pension plans taken over by PBGC because the plans did not have enough money to pay benefits. In 1995, PBGC located 16,000 people in plans it had taken over where the records of troubled companies were incomplete.

PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to guarantee payment of basic pension benefits earned by nearly 42 million American workers and retirees participating in 55,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The agency receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and investment returns.

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PBGC No. 97-13