Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve been working for quite a while (or you just have an unnatural interest in lost pensions…). And, probably, not at the same job. In fact, the average person could have as many as 11 jobs in their lifetime. This means they could have 11 pensions floating around.
It should be relatively easy to stay on top of your pensions. Each provider should send you a yearly statement. But we know how it is, the older you get, the more likely it is that you become a little more forgetful. Did you remember to contact all of those old pension providers last time you moved house?
It’s important to claim your pensions. The sooner you can track down any lost pensions, the better. After all, you want to make sure you get all the money you are entitled to, right?
Are you sure your pension is lost?
Sometimes your pension may not be lost at all. It may have been refunded to you once you left your employer instead. Some older pension schemes may have had a requirement for a minimum number of years before you were eligible for any benefits.
As a very rough rule of thumb:
- If you left your employer before April 1975, you will have received a refund of your pension contributions. If you didn’t contribute into the scheme then you probably won’t be entitled to anything. Unless you were in the scheme for at least 15 to 20 years.
- If you left your employer between April 1975 and April 1988, you may well have a pension, provided you were over the age of 26 and had completed 5 years in the scheme. If not, you will almost certainly have had a refund of your pension contributions and have no further rights.
- If you left the employer after 1988, you’ll be entitled to any pension you put aside whilst there. As long as you completed 2 years’ service. If you left the pension scheme with fewer than two years’ service, you probably received a refund.
How to locate your old workplace pension
Think you have a workplace pension that has been lost? Not to worry, check the Pension Tracing Service.
Make sure you have as much information as you can to hand before using the service. At the very least, you need to know the name of your employer or pension provider and the years you belonged to the scheme.
If the service is able to track down your pension, they will give you contact details. From there you should contact your provider, where you can find out the value of your pension and how you can get it paid out.
Looking to track down a personal pension?
Personal pensions can be a little trickier to trace. There isn’t a place you can go to see all of the pensions you have paid into. Yet.
If you want to track down a lost personal pension, get in touch with a pension specialist (hello!). They will help you.
Great news. The pensions dashboard is coming!
The Pensions Dashboard is a project that is in development. Its aim is to provide individuals with an overview of all their pensions in one place.
According to The Pensions Dashboard, over £400m is sitting in pensions that people have lost. The website states that ‘you’ll find the pensions you’ve lost or forgotten, by using Pensions Dashboards.’ Wouldn’t that make our lives easier!
Rumour has it that it will be released later this year.
How to avoid losing any future pensions
Really, it’s not rocket science. Just make sure you keep all your paper work stored in one place. If you move, make sure you change your address with all providers to continue receiving your statement. Or get a friendly financial adviser to help you manage everything.
What to do with your long-lost pensions
If you do discover long-forgotten pensions, it may make sense to consolidate some of them.
There will be fewer pots to remember that way! More than that, some of that money may be languishing in schemes which really aren’t making the most of your money. So, do something about it now to reap the benefits in the future.
But before you do anything with old pension pots, always speak to a financial adviser. They can help you avoid any costly mistakes and make sure you really understand your options.
Contact us today if you need help tracking down lost pensions.