How do I track down a lost pension?
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Smith & Pinching Chartered Financial Planner Richard Barker offers some expert advice on planning for your retirement income, including tracking down lost pensions.
I am beginning to think seriously about my retirement. I obtained a state pension forecast from the government and know I’ll get a full pension but I’m struggling to sort out what other pension money I’ll receive. I’ve been a member of the Local Authority scheme for about 30 years and worked for a business in the west country for 10 years but they went into liquidation soon after I left. I know the company had a pension scheme and I’m sure I was in it, but can’t find any paperwork relating to it. I’ve lost touch with everyone I knew from that time so am a bit stuck as to how I find out how much it is worth. Can you help?
Richard Barker of Smith & Pinching responds:
It is possible to track down a lost pension using the Pension Tracing Service via the government website. You will need to provide information to track it down but as long as you can remember the name of the business where you were employed at the time or the name of the pension provider, you should be able to find it.
However, it’s worth remembering that just because you were a member of a scheme in the past doesn’t always mean that you have entitlements. The rules about pensions have changed over the years. For example, you may have received a refund of your contributions when leaving your job, there may have been a minimum membership period in order to qualify for a pension, or you may have needed to have reached age 26 while in the scheme to be eligible for benefits.
Planning for your retirement is an important task – particularly as you draw closer to your planned retirement date. It’s important to understand not just the value of your entitlements but also the options available to you in terms of how you take it.
Your Local Authority pension brings with it a guaranteed level of income and may include other benefits such as a pension for your spouse or civil partner after your death. This could mean, for example, that if you do have personal pension entitlements, you may not need to call upon them for income, so you might want to consider taking cash lump sums for other purposes or perhaps look at the ways in which you can leave their value to your heirs.
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On the other hand, you may need to generate additional pension income to supplement your Local Authority pension, in which case you may want to invest in further personal pension savings in the last few years of your working life.
I strongly recommend that you take independent advice and review your retirement plans before retirement so that you understand what your current arrangements will deliver. This will allow you to adjust your planning as needed in the immediate future to achieve your aims for the longer term.
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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.