The DWP tell us that we’ll have lost 50m pension pots by 2050, unless we do better at tracking them down than we’re doing at the moment! There’s £20,000,000,000 of lost money in the pension system at the moment so let’s get finding! The dashboard ‘s going to help but – why wait for the dashboard!
Here are some handy tips from our friends at People’s Pension about how we can find our pensions today.
How are pensions lost?
People Pension’s research found that 1 in 5 people have lost track of a pension and 3 in 5 adults don’t know where all their pension savings details are.
So, why are people losing track of their pension pots?
Not sure who you’ve got pension savings with?
- You may have changed jobs several times by the time you retire, so you could find yourself having to look for all your lost pension savings when you need it the most.
- You may have moved house, misplaced the details and no longer receiving annual pension statements from your provider(s).
- Pension scheme information can become lost as many people now choose to go paperless, so there’s emails to keep track of as well as paperwork.
How to trace lost pension savings
Finding the details of a lost workplace pension can be a little easier than finding the details of a personal pension. Often your employer, or former employer (if they are still in existence), should have the details of their pension provider.
It can often be a little bit more difficult finding the details of a lost personal pension. A good place to start would be to contact the pension provider that you set up the personal pension with.
- Start at home – dig out as much paperwork as you can and see if you can find the details of any pensions you have forgotten about.
- Take a look at any previous employment contract and old payslips and check if there were any pension contribution deductions. If so, and you haven’t taken a refund, you could have a pension you’ve forgotten about.
- Contact your previous employers and ask for the details of their pension schemes. They’ll be able to give you the pension provider’s contact details, so you can contact them directly to find out if you were a member of a pension scheme.
- And you can use the Companies House website – they hold the names of all closed and existing companies registered in the UK.
If you are still having difficulty finding the details of a lost pension, you can use the government’s online pension tracing service.
Visit their website www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension or call them on 0845 6002 537.
Check if your pension contributions were refunded
In the past when leaving an employer, you could have had a refund of your pension contributions after only being in a pension for a short time.
So, it’s important to consider whether your pension is actually lost, or if your pension contributions could have already been refunded.
There are several key dates to help you check whether this applies to you:
- If you left your employer before 1975: it’s almost certain that you’d have had a refund of your pension contributions. If you did not pay into the pension scheme, then the chances are you will not be entitled to anything – the only exception will be if you worked there for a considerable amount of time, usually over 15 years.
- If you left your employer between April 1975 and April 1988: you may have a pension if you were over the age of 26 and had completed over 5 years’ service. If not, it’s almost certain that you’d have received a refund of your pension contributions.
- If you left your employer after 1988: you may be entitled to a pension, as long as you completed over two years’ service for your employer. If you left before completing two years, it’s almost certain that you’d have received a refund of your pension contributions.
If in any doubt you should contact any previous employer(s) for absolute clarification.
Take a look at the steps below if you think you have a lost pension and don’t think you’ve received a refund.
Once you’ve found a lost pension provider’s details
You’ll need to contact them to give them as many details about yourself, so they can trace your lost pension savings quickly and easily. They’ll need:
- your name (current and previous, if different) date of birth and National Insurance number
- your address (current and where you resided when you think you had the lost pension)
- the date you joined and left the pension scheme (if known).
And if it’s a workplace pension:
- the name of the company you worked for
- the address of the company you worked for (in case your company had multiple branches/outlets)
- the date you began working for the company and the date you left the company.
Find out as much information as you can
It’s important to find out as much information as possible about any pension scheme you may be part of. For example, you should ask:
- what’s the current value of the pension pot, and the estimated value on your expected retirement date?
- are there any management charges, and if so, how much?
- is there a nominated beneficiary?
- is it a defined benefit scheme or a defined contribution scheme?
- would there be any charges if I wanted to transfer the pension pot to another provider?
- are there any pension guarantees included e.g. Guaranteed Annuity Rates?
|Defined benefit schemes (DB)||These are also known as final salary schemes, or Career Average Revalued Earnings (sometimes known as CARE schemes) – your pension is based upon the number of years worked and your salary at retirement age, giving you a guaranteed income every year from your retirement. Check out our jargon buster for more information about defined benefit pensions.|
|Defined contribution schemes (DC)||These are based on contributions into a pension pot where you and/or your employer add money into it (like The People’s Pension) and can be accessed at any time after the age of 55 (proposed increase to age 57 from 2028). Check out our jargon buster for more information about defined contribution pensions.|
Once you have the full details about your lost pension savings, you may wish to get advice. You could choose to leave it as it is until you reach retirement age or, if you have other pensions, you could consider combining them into one pot – making it easier to manage and keep track of.