How Can I Find Out My 401k Balance?

Over $5.3 trillion is held in 401(k) plans as of September 2017, according to the Investment Company Institute. If you're using a 401(k) to help you save for retirement, it's important to know how much you have in your plan so you can determine if your savings are in line with the amount you'll need to fund your golden years. If you don't receive paper statements with your 401(k) balance, there are other ways you can check how much you've saved.

How Can I Find Out My 401k Balance?
Image Credit: SARINYAPINNGAM/iStock/GettyImages

Contact Your HR Department

If you don't know where to check your 401(k) balance, your HR department can at least direct you to the entity that manages your company's 401(k) plan. Then, you can contact the 401(k) plan administer by phone or over the internet to check the balance of your 401(k) plan. You can also check how the money is invested and whether it's time for you to rebalance your portfolio.

Vested Versus Unvested Amounts

When you find your 401(k) balance, you might notice that some of the account is vested and some of it isn't. Amounts that are vested are yours no matter what; if you leave the company, you get to take that money with you, but you would lose any unvested amounts. You're always 100 percent vested in your contributions. However, your employer may make contributions to your 401(k) plan on your behalf but might put vesting requirements on the money. According to federal law, contributions must vest at least as fast as either the cliff vesting or graded vesting schedules. With cliff vesting, you must be fully vested at the end of three years of service. With graded vesting, you must be 20 percent vested by the end of your second year of service, and must vest an additional 20 percent each year after that, making you fully vested by the end of your sixth year.

Lost 401(k) Accounts

If you transition from an old job, you might be able to leave your funds in your old 401(k) or you might have to roll them to a new account, such as the 401(k) at your new job or to an IRA. However, if you don't leave any contact information and your old company can't get in touch with you, the funds may eventually be paid to the state. If that happens, you can search for unclaimed funds through the websites missingmoney.com and unclaimed.org. The forms vary by state, but often you can claim your lost money by filling out a few forms online.

references & resources