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How to Handle Missing Participants in a Standard Termination


Employers choosing to end fully funded PBGC-insured single-employer pension plans must distribute all plan benefits to workers and retirees before completely ending the plan. If someone cannot be found, the plan administrator either purchases an annuity from a private insurer in that person's name or sends funds to PBGC for distribution when the participant is found. Companies often have had difficulty finding an insurance company or financial institution willing to accept the funds on behalf of a missing person and the people who have been missed often have had no idea where to look for their benefits. That’s where PBGC’s Missing Participants Program comes into play.

Different rules apply depending when the plan terminates

In late 2017, several changes were made to PBGC’s Missing Participants Program with respect to plans that terminate on or after January 1, 2018. The key changes were:

  • Expanding the program to cover other types of terminating retirement plans (e.g., 401(k) plans, and
  • With respect to PBGC-insured single-employer plans, revising:
    • – The methodology for determining the value of a missing participant’s benefit (i.e., the amount to transfer to PBGC)
    • – The diligent search requirements, and
    • – The reporting requirements.

The prior rules continue to apply to PBGC-insured single employer plans with plan termination dates before January 1, 2018, even if such plans didn’t fully close out until sometime in 2018.

Where to find more information

If you are terminating a PBGC-insured single employer plan and are seeking information about how to handle missing participants, click on the applicable links below:

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