How to Find Previous 401k Accounts

by Steve Gregory, studioD

Many employers automatically deduct 401(k) plan contributions directly from their employee's paychecks. This makes it easy for an employee to forget about his 401(k) plan when he changes jobs or moves to another location. If you stop contributing to a 401(k) plan because you changed employers, the money stays in your account until you cash out the plan or transfer the money to a new 401(k) plan. Finding all of your old 401(k) plans will help to give you a clearer idea of how much money you have for your retirement nest egg.

Contact the human resources or benefits manager at all of your previous places of employment. The administrator of the 401(k) plan will have access to your account information. Give the administrator the required information to find your account, such as your social security number. The administrator will give you your 401(k) account information and all relevant contact and transfer information.

Check your personal financial files if they are available. Statements from 401(k) plans and old pay stubs are examples of financial files that will contain information about your old 401(k) accounts. Use the contact numbers on the statements to inquire about the status of your 401(k) accounts.

Search the National Registry Of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits website's database. The website is a secure national database of employees who have unclaimed funds from 401(k) plans. To find out if you have an old unclaimed 401(k) account, enter your Social Security Number in the search boxes. If the results show that you were a participant in a 401(k) plan, contact the listed employer for more information.

Search for your previous 401(k) plan's IRS Form 5500. Form 5500 is the Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan. This form must be filed by every year by employers that provide 401(k) plans for their employees. Search the database of a website that offers users the ability to search for employee benefit filings, such as the FreeErisa website. Enter the name of a former employer into the search bar to find the relevant Form 5500. The form has the contact information of the administrator of the plan. Contact the administrator for information about your account.

About the Author

An avid technology enthusiast, Steve Gregory has been writing professionally since 2002. With more than 10 years of experience as a network administrator, Gregory holds an Information Management certificate from the University of Maryland and is pursuing MCSE certification. His work has appeared in numerous online publications, including Chron and GlobalPost.

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