According to the Department for Work and Pensions there is £400m in unclaimed pension savings. Could some of this be yours?
Increasingly, we change where we work several times during our careers, possibly leaving a trail of pensions behind us. While employees are now automatically opted into a pension scheme, as they move jobs, their pensions don’t follow them. Sadly, the proposals for pots to follow employees if they move jobs was not implemented when the law changed. So it’s easy to lose track of them. And we clearly do: in 2016 the Department for Work and Pensions announced that there is an estimated £400 million in unclaimed pension savings.
What can you do to find old pensions?
Without knowing how much you’ve got saved and where, how can you accurately forecast for your retirement? Here are a few tips on how to find them, and what to do once you’ve found them so you can plan ahead and work towards a more comfortable retirement.
1. Dig up old statements
You should be receiving annual statements for any pension schemes you’re a member of, with an estimate of your retirement income from that pension pot. Try to find all your old ones and keep them together.
2. Contact old employers and pension providers
But what if you’re not receiving statements?
The most common reason for losing track of a pension is moving house without telling the pension provider. If you’re not receiving these statements and don’t know how to find out about your pension, you have a couple of options.
If you’re tracing a personal pension and know who your pension provider is, contact them and ask to receive information on your pension pot, checking they have your current address. Provide as many of the following as you can: date of birth, national insurance number, pension plan number and the date it was set up.
If you’re tracing a company pension set up by a former employer, you should contact that employer and ask for the pension provider’s details. When you then contact the pension provider, it will help to know your national insurance number, the start and end dates of your employment and the dates you contributed to the pension scheme.
3. Use the government’s pensions tracing service
If you don’t have any statements, you don’t want to contact your old employer, or it’s a personal pension you’re tracking down, you have another option.
The government provides a free online service to help you find contact details for any lost pensions. You can either search by previous employer names or by pension provider (in some cases, your pension provider might have changed name – this service will help you find the new name).
The pension tracing service will provide you with the pension provider’s current name and contact details. You can then contact them for your pension information.
Should you bring your old pension pots together?
Once you’ve tracked down all your lost pensions, what do you do?
To minimise your admin, and to reduce the chance of losing track of them again, you can bring most old pensions together by transferring them all to your preferred pension provider. This will mean that they are easier to keep track of. You may save on fees too.
But remember that some old pensions, especially final salary schemes, have valuable benefits that would be lost if transferred, so you may need to do some homework.
The future looks bright: introducing the pensions dashboard
The government has plans to radically improve the way we view our pensions. The pensions dashboard, once launched, will enable us to be reunited with our long-forgotten pensions quite easily, and show us all our pensions together in one place, including the state pension.
Sounds ideal, but sadly it’s not available yet. If all goes to plan, you’ll be able to log into the pensions dashboard in 2019.
Risk warning: As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Pension rules apply and tax rules may change in future. If you need help with pensions, seek independent financial advice.