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September 29, 2016
PBGC Proposes Expansion of Its 'Missing Participants' Program

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is proposing to expand its existing Missing Participants Program to cover terminated 401(k) plans and most other defined contribution plans, as well as certain defined benefit plans that aren't currently covered by the program.

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retirement savingsFor over 20 years, PBGC's Missing Participants Program has connected people—missing when their pension plans terminated—to their retirement benefits. Currently, the program is open only to PBGC-insured single-employer plans.

"Many people associate PBGC with paying benefits for people in failed plans, but our mission is broader than that," says PBGC Director Tom Reeder, quoted in a press release. "We are also responsible for enhancing retirement security for American workers and retirees. One of the ways to do that is to connect them with their retirement savings."

Under a proposed rule, that was published in the Federal Register on September 20, 2016, the program would be expanded to cover missing participants in most terminated defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) and profit sharing plans). Instead of establishing an IRA at a financial institution for each missing participant account, plans would have the option of transferring benefits to PBGC.

PBGC would then hold the money, add the missing participant to its online searchable database, and periodically search for the participant. Participant accounts would not be diminished by ongoing maintenance fees or distribution charges and would be paid out with interest. PBGC anticipates the expanded program will be implemented in 2018, after receiving public comments and publication of a final regulation.

For more information, visit the Overview of the Proposed Expanded Missing Participant Program web page.

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