This account exists because she taught one single course at the local community college ages ago and employees of this government organization did not pay into social security. That money went into a 403(b). One could choose from the usual suspects of terrible custodians with TIAA being the obvious best choice to any Boglehead. She has not logged into her account in several years and didn't know her username nor password. Getting those was easy since we have not moved nor changed phone numbers in decades.
Next up, was to request a rollover to an existing Vanguard IRA. TIAA actually a button to click "Rollover to IRA" but that leads to opening a new TIAA IRA. Only after scrolling down below the displayed options could one find "Direct Transfer". Next up was to fill out the form there which was amusing because any birthyear like 1950 got converted to 2050 in the online fillable form. And any account number could not have dashes in it. Oh well. So we worked around that and submitted the request. Immediate response was "We need approval from your former employer to do this. Please go to their web site and get approval. Then fax us back their approval."
So off to another web site with more gnashing of teeth. Basically, one fills out another form and then one has to fax to them a bunch of TIAA forms and the newly filled out form in order to see what might happen. The fine print is quite helpful, not:
Basically everything is done by fax which is so 1970's and only during banking hours Mon-Fri. Furthermore, it looks like TSACG won't do anything until TIAA faxes them forms and TIAA won't do anything until TSACG faxes them forms. I also liked that there is no place whatsoever on any of the forms for signature. Probably done on purpose: We need your signature! Where? You can't give it to us. Sorry!TSACG wants to assist you in the most efficient manner possible. Carefully reviewing all documentation, verifying that you
have signed all necessary forms, and verifying that you have included any necessary evidence will help us to reach this
goal and avoid delays that are caused by incomplete documentation. Our customer service representatives are available to assist you at ....
So at this point in time, the process is stuck in limbo. I have made my spouse promise to call them tomorrow morning from her work and to fax everything back and forth. Past experience tells me not to get my hopes up. Also, some of the vocabulary used on these forms would prevent most people from filling them out properly anyways.
So far we spent an entire football game working on this. If I was billing out my hours for this, I would charge over $500 for this service. Who would pay $500 in order to get less than $200? I can see how a Vanguard CSR would just want to throw up their hands for working on some of these rollovers.
I'll update as this rollover rolls along.
Bottom line: Try to do rollovers of small accounts as soon as possible before you forget all the details. And don't get rid of your land line until you have all your old accounts in order and can update the phone number on them.