Need to Find Missing Participants in Your Qualified Plan?

School of Employer Plans

glasses on laptop - find missing participants in your retirement plans

In the past, the IRS provided a letter-forwarding service to help Plan Sponsors locate participants for whom they don’t have a current address. As a cost cutting measure, starting September 1, 2012, the IRS discontinued processing requests to locate missing participants. Since that time, Plan Sponsors, third-party-administrators, and related service providers have been using a variety of tools, some for a fee and some without an additional fee such as social media, to help locate missing participants. On August 14, 2014 the Department of Labor issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2014-01 listing the following search methods Plan Sponsors should take to locate missing participants:

1. Send a notice using certified mail

2. Check all the records of the employer or any related plans of the employer

3. Send an inquiry to the designated beneficiary

4. Use fee electronic search tools


To obtain more details on these search methods and distribution options for a terminating plan, please visit the US Department of Labor website.

Whatever steps you take to help locate your missing participants, be sure to add your final step as: Document all steps taken to locate each missing participant.