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How To Find A Lost Pension

To find a lost pension pot can be daunting, especially if you’ve switched jobs multiple times. According to research, one in six (16%) UK adults have attempted to trace or find a pension that has been lost or forgotten, with only one in ten (9%) managing to do so successfully[1].

Amidst the current cost of living crisis, these lost pensions could be a lifeline for many facing financial hardships.

Retired woman looking sad whilst staring at a laptop trying to find her lost pensions

Lost Pensions

The average lost pension total found was £6,351.

Among those who have managed to find a lost pension, the average total was £6,351. Most respondents discovered pensions worth between £1,000 and £5,000 (24%). However, nearly one in ten (8%) traced pensions worth over £20,000.

Despite the substantial amount of money at stake, worryingly, less than one in ten (8%) individuals know they have a missing pension but have yet to try to trace it. Starting the search journey sooner rather than later. The lost pensions challenge in the UK has escalated significantly in recent years, particularly exacerbated by the pandemic, which led to many people changing jobs.

The Pension Policy Institute estimates the total value of lost pension pots at a staggering £26.6 billion in 2022[2]. Given the potential benefits, starting the search journey sooner rather than later is crucial.

Rules regarding pensions

The rules regarding pensions have evolved over time. Depending on when you were working, you may or may not have built up a pension, and a pension may or may not still exist for you. Here’s an overview of how these rules have changed, though remember that specifics can vary between different pension schemes.

  • Before April 1975 : If your employment ended before April 1975, you probably received a refund of your pension contributions. Some schemes did not require members to make contributions. If you didn’t contribute, you likely wouldn’t be eligible for any pension benefits from that scheme.
  • April 1975 – April 1988 : During this period, if you left your job and were over the age of 26 with at least five years of service, a pension may have been preserved for you. However, if you left with less than five years of service, you might have received a refund of your contributions instead.
  • April 1988 onwards : If your employment ended after April 1988, you could be entitled to a pension,

Keep your information updated

With the introduction of auto-enrolment in 2012, around 10 million people have started saving for their futures through employer-sponsored pensions. Each new job potentially means a new pension scheme. Make sure to update all of your pensions with any address changes and keep a record of all the pension schemes you’ve been enrolled in.

So, how can you avoid losing track of your pension pots?

You will likely be enrolled into numerous workplace pension arrangements throughout your work life, so it’s easy to understand how you could lose track of your pension pots. Not to mention, factors such as previous employers going out of business, changing names, and people moving house can complicate matters even more.

  • Keep your contact details updated – Always inform your pension providers or old employers about any changes in your contact details. If they don’t have the correct information, it will be nearly impossible for them to contact you.
  • Understand different pension plans – Pension plans are usually categorised into defined benefit (often referred to as final salary schemes) and defined contribution (often referred to as money purchase schemes). Knowing the difference between these two can help you keep track of your pensions.
  • Keep track of your SERPS – If you started employment before 2002, you might be aware of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS), a government scheme to increase your state pension. Make sure to keep track of your contributions to this scheme.
  • Use Government services – The UK government offers services to locate missing pensions. These services are particularly useful if you’re looking for details of your old employer’s scheme, a personal pension provider, or confirmation of your SERPS situation. See the recent press release on the new Department Work and Pensions service.
  • Keep all your payslips – Old payslips contain much information which might be required to reclaim your missing pension assets. These include your full name, address, date of birth, national insurance number, type of pension, retirement age, employee number, and policy number. Following these steps ensures you don’t lose track of your pension pots and secure your financial future

Here are some tips to find a lost pension

  • Check your old paperwork – Most pension schemes send you a statement each year that includes an estimate of the retirement income your pension pot might give you. If you have any old paperwork from your employer or pension scheme, this will provide a good starting point. Look for details like the name of your employer or pension scheme, or the contact information of the scheme’s administrator or provider.
  • Contact relevant parties – If you’re no longer receiving these statements – perhaps because you’ve changed your address – consider contacting:
    • The pension provider
    • Your former employer (if it was a workplace pension). Their Human Resources department is likely to be the best contact.
  • The Pension Tracing Service – Use the government service – Find Pension Contact Details. Be careful as there are some companies advertising as a ‘Pension Tracing Service’ or similar. These are not official goverment sites and often will charge a fee or attempt to wrap the service with financial advice. They may not make it obvious that this is the case.

Contact your former employer

If you’re trying to track down a pension scheme set up by a past employer, your first step should be to get in touch with that employer. If your employer facilitated a personal or stakeholder scheme, contact the pension provider directly if you have their contact information. Don’t hesitate to ask your former employer if you’re unsure of the pension provider’s details. They should be able to give you this information. You’ll need to supply them with the following details:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • The date you ceased employment there
  • The date you began work with that employer
  • The dates you entered and exited the pension scheme. Moreover, make sure you ask these key questions:
    • What kind of plan is it? For instance, is it a defined benefit or defined contribution plan?
    • If it’s not a defined benefit scheme, which pension provider are your funds with?Contact the Government’s
      Pension Tracing Service

The government’s Pension Tracing Service

The government’s Pension Tracing Service is an excellent resource if you’re having difficulty finding your pension details. This service can be particularly useful if
you can’t locate the contact information of a former employer or if you’re unsure about the provider of a personal pension. The Pension Tracing Service is a free service that searches a database of over 200,000 workplace and personal pension schemes to help find the contact details you require. You can contact the Pension Tracing Service by phone at 0800 731 0193. Alternatively, you can use their online directory to search for contact details.

Want to Read More?

Further useful information can be found in our newsletters for March – April 2022, January – February 2023 and May – June 2023 as well as our step by step process to Pension Planning which is part of our fully inclusive service.

Need Help or Advice?

If you have multiple pensions, it can be challenging to keep track of all of them. Or if you’re having difficulty finding your pensions, you’re not alone. If you need help then as part of our Pension Planning service we can help find a lost pension for you. There is no additional fee for this. We provide your with our recommendations and you only pay the intiial charge if you wish us to enact our recommendation. This is our risk but also our confidence in our service providing value for money.

If you’re looking for help or advice have a look at our website for ways we can help . Or if you prefer to talk about your specific situaiton you can book a free 30 min meeting via this link.

Compton Financial Services Limited is an appointed representative of New Leaf Distribution Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority (FCA). FCA number is 460421.

Our services relate to certain investments whose prices are dependent on fluctuations in the financial markets beyond our control. Investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested. Past performance cannot be used as a reliable prediction of future performance.

Source data:

[1] Research conducted by Opinium among 2,001 UK adults between 25–28 October 2022.
[2] sponsor-research/research-reports/2022/2022-10-27-briefing-note-134-lost-pensions-2022-what-sthe-scale-and-impact/