$18,000,000,000.00 in Unclaimed Money held by U.S. Government


U.S. Government coffers contain an astounding $18 Billion in unclaimed money. Navigating exactly which branch holds the money is one’s first hurdle, but we ran across a graph which can possibly point one in the right direction.

Early last week, NPR posted on its blog an easily readable chart setting forth the amount of unclaimed money held by the various branches and departments of the Federal Government.  We linked to the NPR chart above and pasted it below.


Highlights are:

US Treasury

Not surprisingly, the Treasury Department holds the most, i.e., $16 to $17-B, the bulk of which in unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds.  As of November 11, 2011, the Treasury Bureau held 44.7 million mutured, unredeemed savings bonds, and every month another half million bonds mature.  “Mutured” means the bonds have stopped earning interest, while “unredeemed” means the owners haven’t cashed them. [h/t ABC News].  The good news is that one can always cash in a bond. On the other hand, unclaimed tax refunds, some $900 million of which are on the Treasury books as unclaimed, expire in three years and are then seized by the Feds.

Federal Judiciary

The Federal Court system holds about $247,800,000.00 in unclaimed funds.  The largest, NPR reports, come from awards in class-action lawsuits.  A claimant to part of a class action award confronts at least three problems in obtaining the unclaimed award: (1) you may not even know you are a “member” of the class-action; (2) a “member” must file the claim in the Federal District Court which heard the class-action (there are 89 District Courts in the 50 states); and, (3), as far as “members” of the class are concerned, most awards are meager.

Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security maintains a “unclaimed money account” for the proceeds of auctioned items left and forgotten at the ports of entry into the U.S.

The Fifty States

Although $18 Billion held by the Feds is gargantuan, the fifty states are collectively holding, it is estimated, $41,700,000.00!!! in unclaimed money.






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