Many people come to us asking about lost pensions. Fortunately, there are several ways you can find them.
It’s not always easy to keep track of a pension, especially if you’ve been in more than one scheme or have changed employer throughout your career. But, it’s important that you do claim your pension, so the sooner you trace a lost pension, the better.
Are you sure it’s lost?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Because even if you have a certificate from a pension scheme, it doesn’t always mean that you have a pension entitlement.
You might well have had a refund of your contributions when you left that employer, for example. It’s also good to know that many older pension schemes may have required a certain number of years of membership from you, before giving you any benefits.
As a rough rule:
- If you left the employer before April 1975, it’s likely you will have received a refund of your pension contributions. If you didn’t pay into the scheme you probably won’t be entitled to a pension benefit.
- If you left the employer between April 1975 and April 1988, you will have a pension, provided you had completed five years in the scheme. If not, you will almost certainly have had a refund of your pension contributions and have no further rights. Between April 1975 and December 1985 you will have needed to reach age 26, in addition to completing 5 years in the scheme, to be entitled to a pension.
- If you were a member of an occupational defined benefit scheme and you left the employer on or after 6 April 1988, you will be entitled to a pension as long as you completed two years’ service in the scheme. If you left the pension scheme with fewer than two years’ service, you probably received a refund of your contributions (less tax) at the time you left or a cash transfer sum (which means that you transferred your pension benefits to another arrangement).
- In the past, members of occupational defined contribution or money purchase pension schemes with less than two years’ service would’ve received a refund of just their contributions less tax. Since 1 October 2015 those who leave employment (or opt out) with more than 30 days service are unable to request a short service refund and are instead entitled to a pension benefit.
Looking for workplace pensions
The first place to contact is the Pension Tracing Service. This has a register of all workplace schemes.
If you still aren’t successful, please contact us and we’ll see if we can help.
Looking for personal pensions
If you’re looking to trace a personal pension, then please contact us and we'll see if we can help.
How can I reduce the risk of losing track of a pension?
Prevention is better than cure, so be sure to keep all your pensions paperwork in one place. You should also tell your previous pension scheme administrator about any changes of address.
Where can I find out more?
If you need more information, please contact us. A pension specialist from our team will be happy to help with whatever pensions-related question you have. Our help is always free.