Everyone needs a bit of a helping hand from time to time. Whether it’s finding a lost pension, getting investment advice or making a complaint, retiresavvy looks at where to go for pension help.
Finding lost pensions
According to charity Age UK , the average 65-year old has had five or six jobs throughout their career and one in ten has lost track of the whereabouts of at least one of the pension schemes they’ve joined in that time – and with younger workers changing jobs more often, this problem is only likely to get worse.
If you need to track down a lost pension, your first port of call should be the pension scheme trustees of your past employers. If you can’t remember or can’t find the details of past employers – they may have moved or merged over the years – then the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service can help you track them down.
The Pension Tracing Service can give you your provider’s contact details, but it’s up to you to get in touch with them to find your pension and make arrangements to claim it. For more details, you can contact the Pension Tracing Service on 0845 6002 537 or visit www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension.
Getting financial advice and guidance
If you’re looking to make the most of the new freedoms that came in to effect in spring 2015, or want to know how best to invest your nest egg, you may want to take financial advice.
But it’s important to understand the difference between ‘advice’ and ‘guidance’. Guidance, as offered by the Government’s Pensions Wise service or here on retiresavvy can only offer information and generic detail. It can be a useful starting point for understanding what options are available and their consequences, but if you want or need more in-depth, personalised advice, tailored to your own circumstances, you will need to take financial advice from a qualified, professional financial adviser.
This will involve a more in-depth, thorough assessment of your individual financial situation and aspirations, as well as usually incurring a cost. At the end of the process, you will be provided with personalised recommendations and it will be up to you whether to follow them or not.
Official help from TPAS and the Ombudsman
Sometimes, things do go wrong – it might be that you have been paid too much or too little pension, or that you disagree with a decision your scheme has made - and sometimes you might need some help in sorting them out.
You should always contact your scheme first to see if they can help sort out any issues you may have, but if that fails – or you think you have been poorly treated – The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and the Pensions Ombudsman Service exist to help put matters right.
Both are free, independent services that take an impartial view on any problems. The Ombudsman has powers to make legally-binding decisions based on its investigations. But be aware that neither TPAS nor the Ombudsman can help with problems relating to the State Pension or investment advice.
It’s also important to remember that investigations can take time. The Ombudsman says it hopes to resolve cases within 10 months, although complex cases can take over a year, and it can take an average of seven weeks before letting you know whether it is able to take your case.
Getting a State Pension statement
Knowing how much State Pension you are entitled to is an important part of retirement planning. A good first step is to find out what you can expect as income in retirement. There are a number of ways to go about this. To find out your current Basic State Pension entitlement, you can fill in a BR19 form.
The full Basic State Pension is currently worth £115.95 per week, although for those retiring on or after 6 April 2016, it is being replaced by the New State Pension, which will be worth at least £151.25 per week, or just under £8,000 a year for those who qualify for the full amount. The actual amount will be set in late 2015.
However, not everyone will be eligible for the full amount at the outset. For the 2.5 million people due to reach State Pension Age in the first five years of the New State Pension, the Government is rolling out a service to give personalised estimates of how much they can expect, based on their work history and National Insurance Contributions. The service will eventually be extended to all workers.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.