Web site matches workers with forgotten pensions

The Pension Search Directory on Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s Web site has
helped 1,394 people receive more than $4 million in pension benefits, a PBGC official
said.


“The vast majority of workers receive their full pension, but sometimes people
move and forget to inform past employers of their new addresses,” said David M.
Strauss, PBGC executive director.


“The Pension Search Directory helps us find workers owed benefits who
couldn’t be located when their pension plans closed,” he said.


Started in February 1997, the Pension Search Directory lists about 7,200 people who are
owed nearly $13 million in pension benefits. The directory lists about 1,000
companies—many in the transportation, machinery, retail trade, apparel and financial
services industries—that closed their pension plans and could not find all former
workers. Some of the companies closed their plans and made benefits payouts; others closed
underfunded plans and required a PBGC takeover.


Since February 1997, the directory has found people in 40 states, including 309 in
California, 113 in New York, 87 in Pennsylvania, 87 in Illinois, 81 in Florida, 79 in
Texas, 74 in Massachusetts and 74 in Ohio. Benefits have ranged from a few dollars to more
than $100,000, with the average running about $4,100, a PBGC official said.


To get to the Pension Search Directory, a user goes to PBGC’s Web site at
http://www.pbgc.gov and clicks on the Pension Search icon. The user then clicks on the
Search for Your Pension link, types in the last name and clicks on the Submit Name button.
If the user’s name appears, the person can e-mail, call or write PBGC to receive the
benefits.


Users are required to provide name, Social Security number, employment dates, a mailing
address and daytime and evening phone numbers. Survivors of people listed must fill in
similar information about themselves, a PBGC official said.


The identification process takes four to six weeks. Once PBGC receives a completed
application, a person eligible for benefits begins receiving checks within two months of
reaching retirement age, a PBGC official said.


The Pension Search Directory runs on three servers. Two are 266-MHz Client Pro 766Xis
from Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho. The Client Pros have 128M of RAM each and
run Microsoft Windows NT 3.5. The third server is a 133-MHz Micron Millennia with 96M of
RAM, running Windows NT 3.5. A T1 line connects the servers to the Internet.


PBGC soon will migrate the system to two dual 400-MHz Compaq ProLiant 1600s with 512M
of RAM each, running Windows NT 3.5. PBGC is upgrading because directory traffic is
increasing, a PBGC official said.

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