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Unclaimed retirement benefits

Missing Participants Program

PBGC has a program called the Missing Participants Program, which connects people to their retirement benefit. When retirement plans end, not all people are paid their benefit because they cannot be located or for other reasons. Retirement plans that participate in the Missing Participants Program can take one of two actions for these people: 1) transfer their benefit to PBGC or 2) purchase an annuity for them from an insurance company. 

PBGC’s Missing Participants Program contains four types of retirement plans:

  1. Defined benefit plans that end in a standard termination.
  2. Defined benefit plans sponsored by small businesses.
  3. PBGC-insured multiemployer plans.
  4. Certain defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s, even though 401(k) plans are not insured by PBGC.


Thousands of people in the United States are eligible for a pension or other retirement benefit that they are unable to locate.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a federal agency created by Congress under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to insure private-sector defined benefit pension plans. 

Are you looking for a pension benefit from a defined benefit plan? Defined benefit plans pay participants a specified monthly benefit at retirement. Benefits are based on some combination of the participant’s years of credited service, salary, and age. Other types of retirement plans, known as defined contribution plans, are not insured by PBGC. Learn more about the many types of retirement plans: What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan

If you earned a benefit in a defined benefit pension plan that has terminated, PBGC may be able to help you locate your benefit. However, we will need some specific information from you. Use the links on the right of this page to learn more about how to search for unclaimed retirement benefits and steps to take before contacting PBGC.

Please refer to PBGC’s Glossary for brief definition of terms.

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