Are You Owed Money from the Federal Government?

( – Have you ever heard of unclaimed money? Unclaimed money exists because federal agencies end up with a substantial amount of it for a variety of reasons — but they don’t have the resources to reach out to everyone to give them their money. The funds they are in possession of come from insurance policies, pensions, businesses that didn’t pay wages properly, credit union and bank failures, and more.

The only way most people find out about unclaimed money is by actively searching databases. The federal government consolidates several agency databases on, but you still have to search through each state and follow through with various agencies or individual states to complete a claim.

What Funds Do Federal Agencies Collect?

When a business owes you money, you might expect that the business would simply mail you a check. If you’ve moved, or if it’s been a while, or if the payout is the result of a class action lawsuit, those funds might get turned over to a government agency instead. Then, the government agency in question is responsible for getting that money to you.

When people move a lot or are for any reason hard to contact, getting that money to them is challenging.

Many federal agencies collect this type of money, such as:

  • Department of Labor: When businesses don’t pay wages properly, the Department of Labor collects it from them and holds it for as long as three years. There’s a database called Workers Owed Wages (WOW) to look for back wages.
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Sometimes companies go out of business or sunset a pension plan. When that happens, former workers may be owed a pension. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) ensures those benefits are paid. Currently, the PBGC has over 80,000 pensions unclaimed.
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: The FDIC covers $100,000 for each individual deposit in case of bank failure. If a bank fails, which can unfortunately happen, the FDIC is responsible for releasing your money to you when you claim it.
  • National Credit Union Administration: This administration is similar to the FDIC, but functions to oversee the funds of failed credit unions instead of standard banks.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission: This commission investigates fraud, in particular, investment practices that are fraudulent. When companies owe investors, the SEC collects.
  • United States Bankruptcy Courts: When a company folds and declares bankruptcy, the courts hold the funds and then distribute them to the company’s lien holders.

Finding Federal Money You Might Be Owed

It’s possible that a government agency might owe you money, but has yet to pay it out. Those agencies are:

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS): If the IRS sends a tax refund and it’s never cashed or if the check is returned to the IRS and no forwarding address has been left, the IRS may end up with unclaimed funds.
  • United States Department of Treasury: If someone has lost a savings bond after it’s matured and is no longer collecting interest, or they simply fail to collect, the money remains with the treasury.
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA): Sometimes homeowners have FHA-backed insurance policies on their mortgage. They then refinance or pay off their mortgage, no longer require insurance, and are owed money.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA): The United States Department of Veterans Affairs issues life insurance policies. Often, veterans or their beneficiaries have monies owed that remain uncollected.

Additionally, states also hold unclaimed funds. When businesses can’t contact someone they owe money to, the money gets turned over to the state. If you think this is the case for you, check your name over at the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to get what you’re owed.

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