It is estimated that the average employee in the UK will change their occupations at least 11 times before retirement. This will lead to people having a hard time when trying to keep track of their pension. Most people may not even remember if or when they started paying money into a pension scheme. Others get discouraged particularly when firms shutdown, relocate, change business type or are bought up by larger firms or rivals. In a case where a person has a number of pension schemes, the process of transferring the money so as to unify all savings into one pot can be quite discouraging due to the high charges which are normally imposed.
No matter what scenario an individual may face, it is urgent to claim their pension and the sooner one can trace his or her lost pension, the better.
How to find your lost UK pension fund
The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has been in the process of changing the rules and regulations that hinder people from tracking down lost funds and failing to access their money when they need it most.
This piece is intended to give you a simple guide to follow when trying to find lost pension funds. Before getting started, you have to ensure that your funds are actually lost. Even if you possess a certificate from a pension scheme, it doesn’t mean that you have a pension entitlement. Individuals must ensure that they fully understand the finer details regarding their pension schemes. Older pension schemes normally require a certain period of membership before its members are entitled to any benefits.
The basic rules of thumb to follow are:
- People who stopped working for their employer before 1975 (April) will most likely have received their pension contributions by now. If individuals failed to pay anything into their pension schemes, they probably won’t be entitled to any benefits unless they have been in the scheme for 15 to 20 years.
- People who stopped working for their employers between 1975 (April) and 1988 (April) will be entitled to a pension providing that they were 26years or older and had been in the pension scheme for at least 5 years. If both criteria’s aren’t satisfied, it is highly possible that they will have been reimbursed their contribution and there is nothing to claim.
- For people who stopped working for their employer after April 1988, and have completed a minimum of 2 years’ service, they will be entitled to pension; otherwise they will have probably received a refund at the time of departure.
The first step in tracing lost pension funds is to contact the Pension Tracing Service (PTS). It has a registrar containing more than 200000 workplace and personal pension schemes. In cases where company schemes were outsourced, one may need to contact the National Insurance Contribution Office (NICO). You should try and gather as much data as possible regarding their pension schemes. This includes dates of employment and copies of certificates.
It is also important to classify whether it is a personal pension or workplace pension. Personal pension schemes are arranged and bought from pension providers (banks/life assurance companies/building societies). Workplace pension schemes are those provided by employers to their employees.
The PTS will also need any information regarding employer(s) details, some of which include:
- Type(s) of business conducted
- Current and previous addresses
- Time period during which the individual belonged to the pension scheme
- Current and previous names
The PTS will then be able to provide all the necessary details of the administrator of the pension. The onus then falls on the individual to contact the pension administrator so as to get all the specific details regarding how much pension is to be paid. This is because the PTS doesn’t have access to private pension details.
When tracing personal pension schemes, the PTS needs any of the following information:
- Name of the scheme provider
- Name of the personal pension scheme
- Address where the scheme was operated from
The PTS can be contacted via phone, email, post or by filling out an online form provided on its website.
FindMyLostPension is a firm that specialises in helping individuals traces unclaimed or lost pension funds for free. All that is required is the National Insurance (NI) number. This is can prove to quite useful when searching for your lost pension.