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Tracing and finding lost pensions

It’s not always easy to keep track of a pension, especially if you’ve been in more than one scheme or have changed employers throughout your career. Over time, pension schemes close, merge or are renamed. So even if you remember the name of your scheme, it could now be called something else. It’s important that you claim your pension – so the sooner you trace a lost one, the better.

Are you sure your pension is lost?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself.

Depending on when you were a member of the scheme, and the type of scheme, you might not have automatically been entitled to a pension.

You might have a certificate from a pension scheme, but it doesn’t always mean that you have a pension entitlement.

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The information below explains whether you had a pension entitlement or not. Please be aware that this is only a rough guide and might vary from scheme to scheme.
Pre-April 1975

If you left your employer before April 1975, it’s likely you’ll have had your contributions refunded. Some schemes didn’t require the member to pay contributions. And if this was the case, you probably won’t be entitled to any pension benefits from the scheme.

April 1975 – April 1988

If you left your employer between April 1975 and April 1988, you might be entitled to a pension. If you had completed five years’ service. If you left with less than five years’ service, you might have had your contributions refunded.

April 1988 onwards

If you left your employer after April 1988, you might be entitled to a pension. This is providing you had completed two years’ service. If you left with less than two years’ service, you might have had your contributions refunded.

Tracking down a personal or workplace pension

Most pension schemes must send you a statement each year.

These statements include an estimate of the retirement income that your pension pot might give you when you reach retirement.

First, check to see if you have any old paperwork which might have the name of your employer or pension scheme. This will give you a good starting point.

If you’re no longer getting these statements – perhaps because you’ve changed your address – to track down the pension you can contact:

  • the pension provider
  • your former employer, if it was a workplace pension, or
  • the Pension Tracing Service.

Contact the pension provider

If you know which provider your pension was with, your first step is to contact them.

There’s a link below to a template letter for you to complete and send to them. However you contact them, you should provide as many of the following details as possible:

  • your plan number.
  • your date of birth.
  • your National Insurance number.
  • the date your pension was set up.

And by asking the following questions, you’ll get a thorough overview of your pension pot:

  • What is the current value of the pension pot?
  • Is there a nominated recipient for any death benefits?
  • How much has been paid into the pension pot?
  • What charges are you paying for management of the pension pot?
  • How much income is the pension pot likely to pay out at your chosen retirement date?
  • How is the pension pot being invested and what options are there for making changes?
  • Would there be any charges if you wanted to transfer the pension pot to another provider?
  • Are there any special features, such as guarantees like a guaranteed annuity rate or a guaranteed minimum pension?
  • What are the death benefits – in other words, how much money would be paid from the pension if you died?
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Contact your former employer

If you want to trace a workplace pension – a scheme arranged by a previous employer – your first point of contact should be the employer.

However, if your employer provided access to a personal or stakeholder scheme, contact the pension provider if you know their details.

If you don’t know the pension provider’s details, ask your previous employer – they should be able to provide them.

Again, you’ll find a link below to a template letter you can use for this.

The main information you’ll need to provide is:

  • your National Insurance number
  • the date you stopped working there
  • the date you started work with the employer
  • the dates you joined and left the pension scheme.

And the main questions to ask are:

  • what type of plan it is – for example, defined benefit or defined contribution?
  • unless it’s a defined benefit scheme, which pension provider is your pension with?

Contact the Pension Tracing Service

If you’re still struggling to make progress, you can contact the Pension Tracing Service.

This could be because you can’t find the contact details of an old employer, or you don’t know the provider of a personal pension.

The Pension Tracing Service is a free government service. It searches a database of more than 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes to try to find the contact details you need.

You can phone the Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 or use the link below to search their online directory for contact details.

Submit a tracing request form to the Pension Service via the GOV.UK website

Find out more about the Pension Tracing Service on the GOV.UK website

More help to find your pension

It might be worth speaking to former colleagues to see if they’re able to help with tracing your pension. They may be able to give you details of the scheme, such as its name or contact information.

If you paid into a personal pension, you might be able to check your bank statements to see where your payments were going.

Was your pension a defined benefit or final salary? Then it’s possible that it’s been taken over by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

When an employer is no longer able to pay the pension benefits promised to its members, the PPF will take over and provide the benefits (subject to limits).

You can find a list of schemes the PPF looks after on the PPF website

Have you’ve tried all the options above and are still unable to find your pension? Then you might want to look at the Unclaimed Assets Register and the Policy Detective. Both are commercial websites.

Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR)

The UAR is a search engine that some providers have used to share unclaimed pensions. You can check it for a fee of £25 per search.

This covers only a few pension schemes. And even if your scheme uses it, they might not class your pension as ‘unclaimed’. For example, if you’re under the age of 75, they might not see your pension as being unclaimed yet.

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The Policy Detective

This is a free service you can use to trace your old pension. But you have to know the name of the pension company your policy is with.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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