PBGC's Missing Participants Program connects people — missing when their pension plans terminated — to their retirement benefits. Until recently, the program covered only PBGC-insured single-employer plans as part of the standard termination process. The program has been expanded to also cover defined contribution plans (e.g., 401(k) plans) and certain other defined benefit plans that end on or after January 1, 2018.
When a plan ends, it must make arrangements with some other entity to provide benefits for missing participants. With defined benefit plans, the choices are typically PBGC’s Missing Participants Program or an insurance company that provides annuities. With defined contribution plans, the choices are PBGC’s Missing Participants Program or a private financial institution.
Although the program is voluntary for terminating plans that are not insured by PBGC, PBGC encourages all eligible plans to use the program to help connect missing participants with their benefits.
As with the original program, there are two ways to use the program. Plans may either:
- Transfer funds to cover the cost of providing a missing participant’s benefit to PBGC, in which case PBGC will provide the benefit once the participant is found, or
- Send PBGC information about the entity that’s responsible for providing the benefit when the participant is found, in which case PBGC will share that information with the participant once found.
Plans covered by the program
The Missing Participants Program covers four types of plans, each with its own unique rules, forms, and instructions.
Forms and Instructions
PBGC-insured Single-Employer Plans
Defined Contribution Plans
Small Professional Services DB Plans (not insured by PBGC)
PBGC-insured Multiemployer Plans
* In lieu of entering information directly on Schedules A and/or B, filers may submit a spreadsheet containing the requisite data. See applicable instructions for details.
How and where to send payment
Regardless of the type of plan that’s terminating, the same options apply with respect sending money to PBGC. Payments may be made on-line via www.pay.gov, a free, secure Federal website, electronic funds transfer (ACH or Fedwire), or paper check.
See Missing Participants Program Payment Instructions for detailed information about payment options and where to send payment.
Law and related guidance
The program is governed by Section 4050 of ERISA. On December 22, 2017 PBGC published a final rule that expanded the program to cover the other types of plans and made some changes to the rules related to how the program works for PBGC-insured single-employer plans (e.g., how to determine the amount of money to transfer to PBGC, what data needs to be reported).
The expanded program applies to plans terminating in or after 2018. However, because some practitioners may still need access to the prior regulation with respect to a PBGC-insured single-employer plan that terminated before 2018, links to both versions of the regulation are included below: