In your working life you may have been a member of a number of different pension schemes with different providers and lost track of the records of these pensions. You may think that trying to find these lost pensions is not worthwhile but these pensions could still be growing in value and provide you with a reasonable income in retirement.
In this article we provide a guide to help you find those lost pensions and maybe a solution to keeping track of them in the future.
How to trace old or lost workplace pensions
If you have worked for a number of employers over the years then it is worth making a list of these employers and if possible the periods of employment. This list will be a good starting point in your search for lost pensions.
Once you have created a list then pull together any paperwork you may have referring to your employment or any pensions, either old payslips or annual pension statements.
Is your pension actually lost or did you get a refund?
Just because you have found documentation it doesn't necessarily mean you have an entitlement to a pension, as you may well have had a refund of your contributions when you left the employer. Many older pension schemes may have required a minimum number of years of service before you were entitled to any pension benefits. Generally speaking, if you left an employer after April 1988 with less than two years service you would have received a refund of your contributions at the time you left.
Contact the employer or pension provider
If your old pension scheme was run by the employer (usually final salary schemes) then contact them and ask for information on any pension schemes you were a member of. You should ask for the following details:
- Your National Insurance number
- Staff number if available
- The start and finishing dates of your employment
- The dates you joined and left the pension scheme
I suggest using email rather than phone or surface mail as this will provide you with a permanent record of all interactions in your search for your lost pensions.
If your pension was provided by a pension company, personal pension or workplace pension, then you may have to contact the pension provider for further details. Your old employer should be able to provide the pension provider's contact details.
How to trace old or lost personal pensions
If you have an old personal pension and have some details of the pension provider then you should contact them directly providing the following details.
- Name and address including any address you may have lived at when starting the pension
- Date started pension
- Last date pension payment was made
- Details of the bank account from which payments were taken
- Pension policy number
You should ask for an estimate of the value of your pension pot and also request the options that are available to you.
Contact the Pension Tracing Service
If you are still not able to find your lost pensions then the Government's Pension Tracing Service is designed to help you in your search. The Pension Tracing Service is completely free and will tell you who to contact when trying to track down your lost pension. You can search for a workplace pension, a personal pension (a pension you've set up yourself), or a civil service, NHS, teacher or armed forces pension.
The search process is quick and simple and you will need to provide an employer's name (company or workplace pension) or the pension provider's name (personal pension). If it is an NHS, civil service, teaching or armed forces pension, you'll be given a link to contact the specific pension enquiry service directly. You will be provided with the contact details of the relevant scheme for you to contact.
When contacting the relevant pension provider make sure you provide as much information as possible including your name, recent addresses and your national insurance number.
Consider consolidating your pensions
If you have a number of pension pots with various providers then consolidating these into one pension may be a sound idea.
- Keep track of all your pensions more easily with one provider and reduce the paperwork
- Reduce the costs involved if you are currently in a high-cost scheme
- Could provide you with greater investment choice than in your current scheme
- Transferring from a final salary scheme is not generally a good idea due to the guaranteed income in retirement
- Some providers may charge a fee to transfer your pension
- Despite recent changes, pension transfers can take quite a while to complete and you will need to check to make sure the transfer is carried correctly.
You can consolidate your pensions with most investment platforms but this can be a lengthy process when you have a number of pensions from a variety of providers.
If you do have a number of pensions then it may be worth considering PensionBee who will do the leg work for you by locating your existing pension pots and consolidate them into a new low-cost pension plan. You can also continue contributing to your plan to increase your retirement fund.
To find out more about PensionBee read our detailed article - PensionBee Review – is it the best way to find and consolidate your pensions?
Do I need to seek financial advice?
It is not necessary to seek financial advice to find old or lost pensions as you can do this yourself if you follow the guidance in this article. However, if you have more complex financial issues surrounding pensions, estate planning or investments it may be prudent to take financial advice but make sure you understand the costs involved before proceeding.
If you think you may need financial advice but do not have a financial adviser to call upon, consider using VouchedFor as they can help to find a reputable financial adviser near you. Simply fill out the details below to get started.