Pension Advice

How to Find a Lost Pension in the UK

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If you’re planning for retirement you need to know what’s in your pension pot and if you’ve paid into several pension schemes over the years you may have lost track. Luckily, finding a lost pension in the UK is a relatively straightforward process.

 

Before you can work out whether you can afford to leave work and retire now, you need to see what you already have and understand what each of the different types of pension means for your future.

 

This can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

In the UK there’s essentially two types of pension scheme, Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution, which one you have might affect what you do with it.

 

You can read more about the different pension types in this article.

 

Find out how much you have in your pension pot and how much your retirement income could be by checking the details of all the workplace and/or private pensions you’ve paid into during your working life.

 

There are several ways to find the details of your lost pension (s) in the UK.

If you’ve paid into more than one pension scheme, you’ll need to contact each provider separately to find out how much is in each lost pension.

 

Did you know?

 

The days of a job for life are gone. According to research carried out by AAT, on average, a person in the UK changes jobs 5-6 times over the course of their career. This means it can be easy to lose track of the different pension schemes you’ve paid into over the years.

 

 

What happens to my pension when I leave a company?

 

If you’ve paid into one or more company pensions at any point during your past employment, you’ll need to know what happened to the pension when you left the company so you can work out how much you have in your overall pension pot.

 

You may automatically have been enrolled in your workplace’s Defined Contribution pension scheme or have a Defined Benefit pension with your employer. Alternatively, you may have a personal Defined Contribution pension.

 

If you left the company before April 1975, you might have received a refund of your pension contributions at that time. If you didn’t pay into the scheme, you probably won’t be entitled to a pension benefit.

 

If you left the company between April 1975 and April 1988 and had contributed to the pension scheme for at least 5 years, you’ll have a pension. If you contributed for less than 5 years, it’s likely you received a refund when you left the company and won’t have a pension.

 

Also, if you left the company between April 1975 and December 1985 in addition to completing 5 years in the scheme, you’ll also have had to have been aged 26 or over at the time to be entitled to a pension.

 

If you left the company on or after 6 April 1988, you’ll be entitled to a pension, if you contributed to the scheme for at least 2 years. If you left the company with less than two years’ contributions to the scheme you probably received a refund when you left.

 

If your employer provided access to a personal or stakeholder scheme, then you should contact the pension provider directly for confirmation. Your employer should be able to provide the details.

 

The pension provider should also send you an annual statement, so it’s worth making sure they have up-to-date contact details for you.

 

How to find a pension from an old job

 

Part of planning for a comfortable retirement, is knowing what’s in your pension pot.

 

If you’ve paid into several pension schemes over the years you may have lost track of them but luckily, finding a lost pension in the UK is fairly easy.

 

Firstly, most pension providers send you an annual statement which includes an estimate of the retirement income the pension might provide when you retire. If for some reason you aren’t receiving statements – perhaps because you’ve changed address or online contact details and not updated the pension provider – don’t worry, there are other ways to track down your pension:

 

If you can remember which pension(s) you’ve paid into and the name of the provider, you can contact them directly. Often you can do this via their website. If you’ve paid into more than one scheme, you’ll need to contact each provider separately.

 

If you can’t remember or aren’t sure which workplace pension schemes you’ve paid into you can find a lost pension on the Government’s Pension Tracing service.

 

It’s a free service which searches a database of more than 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes to try to find the contact details you need.

 

To trace a workplace pension run by your employer you should contact the employer directly and give them the following details:

 

  • Your National Insurance number
  • The date you stopped working there
  • The date you started work there
  • The dates you joined and left the pension scheme

 

If your employer provided access to a personal or stakeholder scheme rather than a workplace pension provided by them, then you should contact the pension provider directly, your employer should be able to provide the details.

 

Contacting either your employer (for workplace pensions) or your pension provider (for personal and stakeholder pensions) should give you the details such as the current value of the pension, how much has been contributed and how much the pension is likely to pay out at your chosen retirement date.

 

You should also be given details of any nominated recipient for any death benefits, what charges you’re paying for management of the pension, how the pension is being invested and the options for making changes or transferring to another provider.

 

Did you know?

 

Unlike the state pension, you can normally start taking money from a private pension when you’re 55 if you want to and you don’t have to stop working to do so either. However, you should check what the ‘selected retirement age’ is on each of your pensions as it’s likely to be set to the state pension age by default.

 

Before you can plan your retirement, you need to understand what type of pensions you have and what each of the different types of pension means for your future.

 

In the UK there’s essentially two types of pension scheme, Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution, which one you have might affect what you do with it.

 

Defined Benefit pensions – sometimes called a final salary scheme – means there is one big pot of money, paid into by all employees and managed by the employer.

 

You pay in a fixed and flat percentage of your salary or wages, and the employer pays in a contribution too.

 

Your employer takes on all the investment risk.

 

When you retire, you get a monthly income.

 

If you’re married and die first, your spouse will usually continue to receive a proportion of your pension until they die

 

You can’t usually pass it on to other people you choose (although dependent children can sometimes benefit).

 

Defined Contribution pensions have lots of different names. You might call yours a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension), personal pension, workplace pension or stakeholder pension.

 

In this sort of pension scheme, you and your employer pay in a percentage of your wage. But instead of it going into a big communal pension pot, it goes into a pot with your name on it. This money is then invested in the markets to hopefully grow over the long term.

 

Importantly, with this type of pension you’re responsible for deciding how and when you access it.

 

  • This pension is generally available for access any time after you turn 55.
  • You can withdraw up to 25% as a tax-free cash lump sum (often called a pension commencement lump sum).
  • You can decide what to do with the remaining 75%.

 

There are two options:

 

Annuity. The remaining pot of money can be paid as an annuity, providing regular monthly income like a Defined Benefit pension, for the rest of your life or agreed term.

 

Drawdown. You can access as much or as little of the remaining pot of money whenever you need it. When you die, the remaining money can be passed on to your spouse, children, grandchildren or even your favourite charity.

 

You can read more about the pros and cons of annuities and drawdown in this article.

 

Did you know?

 

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates that more than 1.6 million pension pots worth £19.4bn are “lost” – the equivalent of £13,000 per plan.

 

Can I find a lost pension with a national insurance number?

 

Your national insurance number is used by organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions to make sure your national insurance contributions and tax are recorded in your name, so you qualify for certain benefits and the State Pension. Pension providers also use this information.

 

To trace a lost pension, you’ll need to know your national insurance number.

 

You can find your national insurance number on your payslip, P60, or letters about tax, pensions, and benefits. You can also find it through your personal tax account and download a confirmation letter.

 

To trace a workplace pension run by your employer you’ll need to know your national insurance number, the dates you worked there from and to and the dates you joined and left the pension scheme.

 

What is the pension tracing service?

 

If you’re still struggling to find a lost pension in the UK, perhaps because you can’t find the contact details of an old employer, or you don’t know the provider of a private pension, you can use the Government’s Pension Tracing Service.

 

It’s a free service which searches a database of more than 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes (including civil service, NHS, teacher, and armed forces) to try to find the contact details you need.

 

To use the service, you’ll need to know either the name of the company you worked for, the name of the pension scheme, or the name of the pension provider.

 

The service won’t tell you whether you have a pension or what its value is, it will help you find the contact details so you can contact the provider directly.

 

Can I view my pension online?

 

Most pension providers must send you a statement each year and these statements include an estimate of the retirement income that the pension pot might provide when you reach retirement. Many pension providers let you set up an online account so you can log in and view your pension via their website at any time.

 

How to find out if a deceased person had a pension?

 

When someone dies it’s important to let their pension scheme know as soon as possible. The earlier it’s done the easier it will be to get their affairs in order.

 

When someone dies, it’s possible that a spouse or other beneficiary could benefit. It depends on the type of pension, the age of the deceased and their beneficiaries.

 

If you’re dealing with a deceased person’s affairs check their paperwork to see if there are details of any personal or workplace pension schemes. If there are, contact the pension provider directly to find out what to do next.

 

If you don’t know who the pension provider is and the deceased was employed, contact their employer to see if there was a current workplace pension.

 

If you can’t find any trace of a private or workplace pension, but you think the deceased person might have had one, contact the Government’s Pensions Tracing Service, a register of all workplace schemes.

 

It’s a free service which searches a database of more than 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes to try to find the contact details you need.

 

The type of private or workplace pension the deceased person had will affect the amount that can be claimed and when the beneficiary can claim it. So you’ll need to find out if the pension is a Defined Contribution pension or a Defined Benefit pension.

 

If it’s a Defined Benefit pension (sometimes called a final salary pension) it provides a regular monthly income on retirement. If the deceased was married their spouse will usually continue to receive a proportion of the pension regularly until they die but it can’t be passed on to another beneficiary.

 

If it’s a Defined Contribution pension (also called a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension), personal pension, workplace pension or stakeholder pension) the money can be passed onto the deceased’s spouse, children, grandchildren or other beneficiary, this is known as a death lump sum.

 

Want to understand your pension and retirement options?

 

To make sense of your pension options and get started on your journey to retirement, you can take our free no-obligation first meeting.

 

You’ll be able to speak with our financial advisers who can explain our PlanHappy Lifestyle Financial Planning process, how it can help you, but most importantly, you can work through what it really is you want to do in retirement.

 

You tell us what you want to do, you tell us your goals and aspirations, and then we start your journey to retirement.

 

   Retirement Savings – how much you need to save for retirement

 

   Retirement Date – when you can afford to stop working

 

   Retirement Income – how much you can spend in retirement

 

So, if you’re looking to make sense of pension and retirement planning options with straightforward financial planning advice, we’re here to help.

 

Contact our friendly team on, 033 0133 3035 or use the form below to arrange a call back from one of our experts.

 

Joslin Rhodes Pension & Retirement Planning – Real Advice, For Real People

 

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