How to Find Old 401(k) Plans

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on January 04, 2023

The first step that you should always take when trying to track down old 401(k) plans is to call the human resources department of each of your former employers.

They should be able to tell you whether you still have 401(k) plans with their companies.

If you can't find the number to the HR department, try calling your previous supervisor or boss and ask him or her to get you in touch with HR.

If you have an old 401(k) plan statement available, then you can contact your previous plan administrator and they should be able to tell you where your plan is now.

Or you can contact a former co-worker who still works at your old company and ask him or her to give you your plan's current contact information.

How to Search for My Old 401(k)

Another way to find your old 401(k) is to search online at websites like www.unclaimed.org or www.missingmoney.com. You can search these sites for assets in any state in which you have lived or worked.

If you do find an old 401(k) plan on one of these sites, you will probably only have to fill out a form in order to get it back.

If your employer has been bought out or has merged with another company, then you can still search for your plan online at https://www.askebsa.dol.gov/AbandonedPlanSearch/ or https://www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com/.

www.Freeerisa.gov also stores records of the paperwork from old employee benefit plans.

Old 401(k) Balance

If your old 401(k) balance was less than $5,000, then your former employer's plan administrator may have rolled your plan into an IRA.

If your balance was less than $1,000, then the administrator may have simply cashed out your plan balance and sent the check to the most recent address they had on file for you.

If this is the case, then you may owe tax and penalty on the distribution balance. But your former employer's plan administrator can tell you where your money went if it was rolled over.

 

How to Find Old 401(k) Plans FAQs

What is a 401(k) plan?

A 401(k) plan is a retirement plan offered by an employer designed to help employees save for retirement.

How Do You Find Old 401(k) Plans?

The first step that you should always take when trying to track down old 401(k) plans is to call the human resources department of each of your former employers.

What is the difference between a Roth 401(k) and traditional 401(k)?

With a Roth 401(k), taxes are paid as money is put into the retirement account. With a traditional 401(k), taxes are paid as money is taken out.

Are there other retirement savings plans other than a 401(k) plan?

Alternatives to 401(k) plans include traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, pension plans (if your employer offers one), and 403(b) retirement plans for employees of non-profit organizations.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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