What is a Missing Participant?

Definition of a Missing Participant: A missing participant is a former employee who has left funds in a qualified retirement savings plan (ex. – 401(k) plans) at their former employer, but has failed to keep their contact information current and is no longer actively engaged in managing their plan account.

Signs of missing participants include:
  • Returned mail
  • Returned emails
  • No recent web account or phone activity
  • An outstanding, uncashed distribution check
In most cases, missing participants realize that they have an account, but many may not realize that they have an account at all.

Closely related to missing participants are “unresponsive” participants, for whom a plan may have correct addresses, but are unable to be definitively contacted and who may not be acting in their best interest (ex. – not cashing distribution checks).

Finally, some participants may be deceased, a status which may be known or unknown to the plan's sponsor. If the status is known, then the plan's benefits are due to one or more beneficiaries, who must be located.

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