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DOL Search Tool for Lost Participants Needs Assistance from Plan Administrators

The SECURE Act 2.0 brought many changes to the benefits arena, one of which was the call to create a national data base/search tool that would assist with finding missing retirement plan participants and beneficiaries.  Plan administrators have long been aware that participants and/or their beneficiaries may be difficult to locate if contact information for the participant or beneficiary is out-of-date or inaccurate.  Participants and/or their beneficiaries may also find themselves without any information on where to turn if a previous employer goes out of business or merges with another company. 

SECURE Act 2.0 provides that the Department of Labor (DOL) will establish a search tool to assist participants and their beneficiaries with finding information regarding their retirement benefits by December 29, 2024.   The DOL recently issued an information request to assist the DOL with carrying out this directive.

The IRS already collects much of the information being requested via Form 8955-SSA. However,  due to concerns regarding disclosure and confidentiality of returns and return information, the IRS is unable to provide this information directly to the DOL.  The DOL is expressly authorized under ERISA Section 523(d) to collect the names and social security numbers of participants and former participants who have separated from service and are entitled to deferred vested benefits and identify those who have been paid their deferred vested benefits, including those who have received a deferred annuity contract.  The DOL is requesting that plan administrators voluntarily provide the following information for separated vested participants and beneficiaries: 

  • Mailing addresses

  • Email addresses

  • Telephone numbers

  • Identification of any separated vested participants of normal retirement age or older owed a vested benefits and unresponsive to communications from the plan or has inaccurate contact information on file with the plan

The DOL asks that information dating back to the date the plan became subject to ERISA be provided, although the DOL is aware that some plan administrators may not have such information.   Furthermore, the DOL believes that this information can be collected as an attachment to the 2023 Form 5500 Annual Return and that this should help ensure an easy and efficient process for collecting and submitting the information to the DOL. 

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