What to do if a former employee is being denied access to his 401k funds?

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What to do if a former employee is being denied access to his 401k funds?

My husband has been putting money in to the 401k for 12 years and his employer told him that he would have to quit to get into it. Well he did quit the job. He asked the bank how to get to his 401k. It told him that it will send forms need to be filled for release. It sent the papers and he sent them to his old employer. The old employer refuses to sign the papers. We called the bank, and the bank said that there is nothing that they can do because the old employer is the administrator. The money is under my husband’s name but he has no way to get to it.

Asked on October 22, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If it's your husband's money, he has a right to it. That said, there may be some paperwork hurdles or requirements; it may also be necessary to go to court and sue to get an order requring the former employer to do the things it must, if the employer refuses to. (You *might* also be able to recover some economic damages.) You and your husband should get an attorney to help you--look for one with experience in 401(k) plans and/or employee benefits since it's a somewhat speclialized area. Act quickly--if there's anything improper going on, the longer you wait, the greater the chance the money will be gone (e.g. stolen). If the old employer is refusing to help or comply, that may indicate improper motives or actions, so it's better to not wait but instead to get the ball rolling. Good luck.


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