NORMAN — Dear Savvy SeniorHow does one go about tracking down a lost pension? About 35 years ago, I worked at a manufacturing company for a few years that offered employee pensions, and I want to find out if I’m eligible for any money now that I’m about to retire.
Losing track of a small pension from years ago is actually quite common, especially if you’ve have had a lot of jobs throughout your working life. To help you locate a lost pension, here are the steps to take along with some free resources that can help you search if your previous employer has gone out of business, changed names or merged with another firm.
If you think you have a pension from a previous employer, and the company is still in business, your first step is to call their human resources department and ask them to give you the contact information of the pension plan administrator. Then you’ll need to contact them to find out how much your pension is worth and how to claim it.
Depending on how complete the plan administrator’s records are, you may need to show proof that you once worked for the company and that you are pension eligible.
Your old income tax returns and W-2 forms from the years you worked at the company will help you here. If you haven’t saved your old tax returns from these years, you can get a copy of your earnings record from the Social Security Administration, which will show how much you were paid each calendar year by each employer.
Call 800-772-1213 and ask them to mail you the “Request for Social Security Earnings Information” form SSA-7050, or you can download it at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf. You’ll pay a small fee for the report, depending on the number of years of data you request.