Minimum Distributions for Missing Participants and Beneficiaries of Retirement Plans


Employee Plans Examinations issued a field directive to all exam agents on missing participants, beneficiaries and the required minimum distributions (RMD) standards under Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(9). The memo enhances EP’s enforcement of RMDs, but doesn’t address the application of any other qualification requirements or other applicable law including Title 1 of ERISA.

The memo directs EP examiners not to challenge a qualified plan for its failure to commence or make an RMD to a missing participant or beneficiary if the plan has taken the following steps:

  • searched plan and related plan, sponsor, and publicly-available records or directories for alternative contact information;
  • used any of these search methods:
    • a commercial locator service;
    • a credit reporting agency; or
    • a proprietary internet search tool for locating individuals; and
  • attempted contact via U. S. Postal Service certified mail to the last known mailing address and through appropriate means for any address or contact information (including email addresses and telephone numbers).

If a plan hasn’t completed the steps above, EP examiners may challenge a qualified plan’s violation of the RMD standards for its failure to commence or make a distribution to a participant or beneficiary to whom a payment is due.