TSP – Unclaimed Government Retirement Benefits
Unclaimed government retirement funds are not declared abandoned unless unclaimed by the employee’s 115th birthday or 30 years after death; but virtually no effort is made to find lost employees owed government pension benefits.
Records on two million former Civil Service workers are not automated, but rather stored in some 35,000 file cabinets by alphabetical order. This system does not permit sorting by age, a likely indicator of unclaimed and unpaid benefits. Because many government employee records at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Retirement Operations Center are not computerized, it is virtually impossible for the government to determine when a federal retirement benefit goes unclaimed and unpaid.
Unclaimed federal retirement benefits include Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) distributions, a defined-contribution plan similar to a 401(K) created by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986 to supplement Federal Employees Retirement System benefits. As of 2012, TSP accounts for 4.5 million participants – including federal civilian employees in all branches of government, U.S. Postal Service employees and members of the uniformed services – totaled $313 billion.