Employee Benefits-IRS Talks About Missing Participants Or Beneficiaries

In Employee Plans News, Issue 2014-15, September 22, 2014, the IRS talks about missing participants or beneficiaries. It says the following:

Plan sponsors, administrators and qualified termination administrators (QTAs)
sometimes need to locate missing participants or beneficiaries. For example, correction of a plan failure under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) may require payment of additional benefits to terminated participants. See Revenue Procedure 2013-12, Section 6.02(5)(d), for plan correction principles relating to lost participants.

Previously, the IRS provided letter-forwarding services to help locate missing plan
participants, but with the August 31, 2012, release of Revenue Procedure 2012-35, the IRS stopped this letter forwarding program. The IRS will no longer process requests to locate retirement plan participants or beneficiaries.

In the absence of IRS letter forwarding services, sponsors, administrators and QTAs may use a variety of other methods to locate missing participants and beneficiaries, including:

• commercial locator services;
• credit reporting agencies; and • internet search tools.

The Department of Labor in Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2014-01 lists the following search methods as the minimum steps the fiduciary of a terminated defined contribution plan must take to locate a participant:

• Send a notice using certified mail;
• Check the records of the employer or any related plans of the employer;
• Send an inquiry to the designated beneficiary of the missing participant; and • Use free electronic search tools.

Field Assistance Bulletin 2014-01 generally updates DOL/EBSA guidance on how fiduciaries of terminated defined contribution plans can fulfill their obligations under ERISA to locate missing participants and properly distribute the participants’ account balances.