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Retirement

The Government Wants to Help You Find Your Missing 401(k)

A national database could make it easier to track down benefits.
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Illustration: Charlotte Pollet for Bloomberg Businessweek

As Americans worry about being able to afford retirement, billions in unclaimed retirement funds sit neglected in lost or forgotten accounts.

Regulators and politicians are pushing retirement plan sponsors, as fiduciaries, to work harder to find plan participants who are due benefits. The latest move comes in the Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act of 2018, legislation reintroduced on March 2 by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana. The legislation would create an Office of Retirement Savings Lost and Found to serve as a clearinghouse for retirement plan information and require employers to provide data for a national searchable database that could be used by all retirement plan participants. The expansion of auto enrollment in 401(k) plans, along with younger workers frequently switching jobs, will add to the number of missing participants, according to the bill.