With all the recent publicity surrounding changes to the rules about Pensions and, of course, the arrival of Auto-enrolment, you may have been prompted to review your pension provision. As a result, you may have discovered you have a “black hole” in your history, where you have lost touch with an occupational pension scheme of which you were a member.
It’s estimated that over £3billion worth of pension contributions are sitting unclaimed because people have lost track of schemes they have been members of in the past. When one considers that the average person can have had around 11 different employments over a working life, and probably changed address several times, this is hardly surprising. Many 35-year olds today have already had an average of 5 different employers – and probably have not kept a record of related pension contributions. How many of us worry about retirement when we are young?
Tracking a lost pension can be daunting, but if you have any paperwork you should, in the first instance, contact the pension provider who should be able to determine your pension rights with them. You need to establish how much your contributions are worth and what you are able to do with them. If you have no details, the employer who operated the scheme is your next port of call.
If, however, that employer is no longer in existence, or not contactable for some reason, the DWP operates a free Pension Tracing Service which might help you locate the scheme you are looking for. All you need to do is complete an on-line questionnaire with simple details such as your NI number, your employer’s details, approximate dates of employment and your address at the time in question. They hold a database of schemes and employers, and may be able to provide contact details to help you locate the provider in question. Details of the Pension Tracking Service can be found here
Once you have a full pension history, you can make a decision about what to do with the various “pots” you have accumulated, to ensure you get the maximum benefit in your retirement. You can also obtain an estimate of how much State Pension to which you will be entitled, based on your National Insurance Contributions over the years, which can also help in your retirement planning.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.
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