BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy wants federal officials to release billions of dollars in unclaimed retirement benefits to states, saying they’re better equipped to try to locate the people owed the money.
The Republican senator met with U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Wednesday to pitch his idea that uncashed and undistributed retirement benefits be returned to their rightful owners through states’ unclaimed property programs.
Kennedy said billions of retirement dollars held by large financial institutions have not been claimed and the Labor Department is researching ways to find people who rightfully should have the money.
Kennedy administered Louisiana’s unclaimed property program when he was state treasurer. He said states already have the staff and organizations in place to locate people owed money from old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments, and utility deposits.
For the federal government to administer a return program for unclaimed retirement benefits would require the establishment of new infrastructure and workers, Kennedy said, describing it as an unnecessary expansion of bureaucracy.
“I just think we’ll save money by having the states do it. The states are good at it,” he said.
Acosta agreed to review the idea, Kennedy said. The U.S. senator hopes the move could be done by executive order, but he said he’d file legislation if needed.