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Sources of Unclaimed Property for the Military

Military families have more moves than most people. In the chaos of moving, things like utility deposits, security deposits, 401Ks for the civilian spouse, final pay checks, newspaper subscription balances and more can be left behind. After 3-5 years this money gets turned over to the state. You can check any state you’ve ever lived in by going to www.Unclaimed.org. If you own or owned your own business be sure to look for the business name also. The states are holding nearly $42 billion.

However, if you had a foreign address when serving overseas then the money gets turned over to the state where the holder (the company that owes you the money) is incorporated. This could be a state you never even visited.

If you left a traditional pension behind you can check with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Some of these listings are for bankrupt companies like Enron and Eastern Airlines. The designated beneficiary or heir may be able to claim the balance if the owner is deceased. There’s $280 million waiting to be claimed for 38,000 people.

Veterans’ service organizations such as Viet Nam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans, Military Order of World War and others also have unclaimed property listings. When searching, the less you enter, the broader the search. For example, enter just Disabled or Paralyzed for the maximum amount of listings for the Disabled American Veterans or Paralyzed Veterans of America. Use shortened versions such as VFW. Look under both Viet Nam and Vietnam Vet.

All branches of the military including many military bases have unclaimed property listings on the state sites. The Department of the Navy has more than $3.6 million held in the Treasury Department.

Military medals are sometimes found among the contents of safe deposit boxes that have been turned over to the state. Some states hold the medals indefinitely, trying to work with veteran organizations to return them to the hero or the family. Other states put them up for auction holding the proceeds until the rightful owner comes forward. Search under the name of the person that might have had the safe deposit box in the state they lived in.

Savings Bonds were a way to support the war effort. There are more than 40 million savings bonds that have stopped earning interest and should be cashed in and reinvested. To search for lost savings bonds, go to the Treasury Department. The estimated value is $16 billion.

Thrift Savings Plans are the federal government’s equivalent of a 401K. If you or a deceased family member participated in a plan, check for any available balance by going here or call 877-968-3778.

Life insurance offered through the military never gets turned over to the state. This can include payouts to a beneficiary that can’t be located as well as insurance premium refunds and dividends. Check the Veterans Affairs web site. Remember to keep your beneficiary contact information current.

Survivor aid and benefits for families can be found through the VA.

Foreclosure If you had equity in your home and it foreclosed for more than you owed, the excess belongs to you. Check with the clerk of court in the county where the foreclosure took place. The same thing applies to storage units. Check with the company where the storage unit was.


Viet Nam Veterans diagnosed with a disease recognized as being related to exposure to Agent Orange  may be eligible for service-connected compensation.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) This program is limited to the atmospheric nuclear testing program conducted by the US after World War II. The compensation is only provided for an individual that has contracted a related cancer following their exposure. It may apply to 3 populations:


  • ·         Uranium miners, millers and ore transporters
  • ·         Onsite participation at atmospheric nuclear weapons tests
  • ·         Individuals who lived downwind of the Nevada test sites (Downwinders)


Further details are available through the Department of Justice.

The fire in St. Louis in 1979 at the National Military Personnel Records Center destroyed many of the records that showed the military member’s participation at the site. But the radiation film badge records are available. The request needs to be filled out on form NV-192 and mailed to:

US Department of Energy

Bechtel, NV

ATTN: Dosimetry Research Project, M/S CF 401

PO Box 98521

Las Vegas, NV 89193-8521


If the participant is deceased, surviving family members can complete the Surviving Relative Affidavit.  This, the previously mentioned form and the Privacy Act form that you’ll also need are available throughAngel Fire or by calling (800) 729-7327. The Angel Fire web site provides help for some of the problems you are likely to encounter. Do not try to go through the Veteran’s Administration as that is the wrong agency.

The following information pertains to vets but has nothing to do with money. I included it because some things have no appropriate monetary value.

In an article on CNN last year, it was estimated that the suicide rate among vets, especially the younger ones, was more than 22 a day. Help is available.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Vets4Warriors is a peer-to-peer counseling service geared toward members and veterans of the National Guard, but is available to all branches of the military. It is staffed by veterans trained as counselors. Call 1-800 VET-TALK (838-8255) or online at www.Vets4Warriors.com.
  • Coaching Into Care is for family members that provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues. It’s a national phone service that places priority on linking veterans to benefits and services available in their own community. If you think you veteran family member or friend could benefit from readjustment counseling, please call Coaching Into Care at 1-800-823-7458 or email CoachingIntoCare@va.gov.

Mary Pitman is the author of “The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money that is Rightfully Yours.”Much of the content in this article was taken from her book. Used with permission. To book Mary to speak to your organization or for interviews email her at mcpitman@bellsouth.net. 


How to Find Lost Life Insurance Policies

This is a great how-to guide from Consumer Reports. There are search tips and contact info for some of the insurers. 
It's estimated that more than $1 billion is unclaimed. The average claim is about $2,000 with the occassional listing for $300,000. You have nothing to lose by looking!



Teen's testimony may force CA to list $68 million

I love this story! It shows how a little justified teenage outrage can be channeled for the good of many.



Unclaimed Holocaust properties: How to search and claim

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day I'm pleased to be able to share these resources for Holocaust survivors or the victims' families.

Holocaust survivors or the victims' heirs may have assets from before the Holocaust they don't know about. This has nothing to do with the state unclaimed property sites. This is important because the survivors are elderly and dying. There are 60,000 assets including: 
  • Real Estate -- apartments, buildings, land plots, and subdivided land in Israel
  • Monies-- accounts opened in Israeli banks, shares and bonds. Monies acquired through the sale or expropriation of real estate, and the compensation received from profitable assets rental fees on apartments and land.
  • Jewish Colonial Trust (JCT) Shares Shares in the Jewish Colonial Fund established by Bejamin Ze'ev Herzl in 1899 to serve as the Zionist Movement's financial arm.
  • Contents of safes and art pieces
There are several sites people can check:
The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets There's a woman in the video that found assets from her great grandparents. 
Project HEART If you or your Jewish relatives had property that was confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era, You could be entitled to participate in Project HEART. (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center Provides claims procedures for locating Swiss, Swedish, French and British bank accounts and insurance policies.
The Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany is another resource.
Take a moment and look. Then share the information.
Above all, never forget. 

Are you missing out on tax refund money?

An estimated 25 percent of people are eligible for the earned income tax credit but don't apply for it. Check the numbers in this article and see if you're eligible.