How do I track down old pension schemes?
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Phil Beck is an Independent Financial Adviser with Smith & Pinching, Chartered Financial Planners, advising on how to track down an old pension scheme.
I am trying to find out if I have some pension due to me when I retire from a scheme that I was a member of for about 15 years in the seventies and eighties. I’m sure they had a company pension scheme, but I can’t find any paperwork about it in my files. I’ve done some digging: it looks like the company doesn’t exist anymore and I’m not in touch with any of my former colleagues. I’m in my mid sixties and due to retire in a couple of years and have built up another work pension scheme over the years, but is there a way of tracking down my old pension schemes?
Phil Beck of Smith & Pinching responds:
This is not an unusual situation: many people lose track of old pension schemes of which they may have been a member. To help in this situation, the government provides a tracing service on its website at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details. You just need some basic information about the scheme – the company name is usually sufficient – and it should find it. The service is free of charge. You will be given details of the scheme administrator, enabling you to write to them for details of what entitlements you may have built up.
Having said that, finding the scheme doesn’t necessarily mean that you will still have pension entitlements from it. Pension legislation has changed over the years and what happened after you left a company scheme depended on the legislation at that time and the rules of the scheme itself. In some cases, for example, pension contributions were refunded when you left your job, and in others there was a minimum membership requirement before pension entitlement was granted.
Another issue may be that, even if you have entitlements under the scheme, it may not be worth as much as you might have hoped. Closed schemes may not have benefitted from active investment management so growth may be limited. There may also have been ongoing charges for the administration of the scheme eroding the total as well as fund charges from any investments you hold.
It may be possible to transfer your benefits to another scheme but with your retirement date so close, it may not be worth doing so, particularly if there are penalties for withdrawals before your planned retirement date. However, it is certainly worth looking at all your options with a view to potentially finding better ways for your entitlements to work for you. Speak with an independent financial adviser to work out the best solution for you.
Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.
For more information visit www.smith-pinching.co.uk