To find a 401(k), employees can look at box 12 on their old W-2s for evidence of their contribution, and then contact the employer listed for more information about the location of the 401(k), suggests Liz Weston for Bankrate. They can also look for old 401(k) statements, which contain contact information for the plan administrator.
Even without old W-2s, workers should first contact their former or current employer to find their 401(k) plans, according to Weston. If the employer is out of business, people can search for their 401(k) on the U.S. Department of Labor's Abandoned Plan Database, which lists terminated and soon-to-expire plans. The database includes contact information for the plan administrator. For a 401(k) worth less than $5,000, an old employer can legally covert that 401(k) to an Individual Retirement Account, notes Kathryn A. Walson for Kiplinger.
Businesses that have more than 100 employees with retirement plans must file Form 5500 each year with the Internal Revenue Service, explains Walson. Employees can search FreeErisa.com to gain access to their company's Form 5500, which lists contact information for the 401(k) on the form.
Small businesses going out of business sometimes abandon their employees' retirement plans, but the trustee should notify all employees about how the business disburses the existing benefits, states Walson. The administrator of the 401(k) has the authority to give former employees their benefits, and the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration can help individuals reclaim any 401(k) plans.