In November 2007, research which was conducted by the London School of Economics revealed that the Government were sitting on a pot of around £4.5 billion in unclaimed benefits for the elderly. This consisted of unclaimed council tax benefit, housing benefit and pension credits many of which the elderly had no idea they were entitled to. Added to that, there will inevitably be many more thousands of pounds sitting in banks all over the place which were pensions that people may have taken out years earlier but, for one reason or another, had forgotten about.
How Does This Occur?It’s hardly surprising that this kind of thing occurs given that these days, we may all change jobs a number of times throughout our lifetimes. There will be occasions where you may have contributed to a company pension scheme yet only remained at the company for a relatively brief period and then gone on to work somewhere else and completely forgotten about the pension you’ve contributed to. Since then, you might also have moved address and any mailings from the pension provider may not have reached you. Alternatively, a company may have enrolled an employee in a non-contributory pension scheme so that it was the company itself who was contributing and yet you may not even have been aware that you were in a pension scheme.
How Can I Find Out?The good news is that now it can be quite easy to trace your history of what pension schemes you may have been enrolled in whilst you were working. The Pension Service website is a useful place to start if you think this might have happened to you. Their Pension Tracing Service can help you locate details of a pension you may be entitled to but so far haven’t claimed as it has access to a database of over 200,000 occupational and personal pension schemes and it can be used online at no charge to search for a particular scheme.
How Do I Go About Doing This?All you need to do to trace a pension you may be entitled to is to go on to the Pension Service’s website and complete an online tracing request form which should take about 15 minutes to complete. Once it’s been submitted, the Pension Tracing Service staff will investigate the matter on your behalf. This service is provided free of charge and in full confidentiality. Obviously, the more information you’re able to provide on the form, the easier it will be for the Pension Tracing Service to try to find out what you might be entitled to. So, the kind of information it would be useful to know would include the following depending on whether it was a personal or occupational scheme which was involved:
- The name and address of the employer and type of business
- The approximate dates you worked there
- Any alternative name of the business if it has ever traded under a different name
- Whether the company ever changed address and details of that if you know it
- The name of the personal pension scheme and the address from where it was run along with any details of the insurance company who were involved with running the scheme
Pension CreditsIn addition to a pension scheme, you may also be entitled to pension credits which guarantee you at least a set amount of income to live off each week. Once again, the Pension Service will be able to advise you about this.
It’s well worth checking out whether or not you are entitled to pensions, credits and other benefits you have yet to claim or weren’t even aware you were entitled to. Some people have discovered that they were entitled to thousands of pounds as a result of the Pension Tracing Service being able to track down pensions they were entitled to and, as you’ve worked hard throughout your life, any additional cash may as well be in your bank account as opposed to sitting in the coffers of the Government or some other financial institution.