Should I consolidate my pensions: How to find lost pensions and more Should I consolidate my pensions: How to find lost pensions and more

24 Jul 2022 | Comments: 0 | Author: Christina Bentley | Retirement

If you’re like most people, you’ll have had many jobs and pension pots by the time you reach retirement age. You might find yourself wondering, ‘Should I consolidate my pensions. And how do you find lost pensions? While having fewer pensions to manage might seem like a logical solution, it could mean losing out on money, benefits and more.

Not sure what pension consolidation is or whether it's a good idea? In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about pension consolidation, tracking down lost pensions and more.

How you can find your lost pensions

Determining whether you’ve lost a pension and finding it can seem like climbing Mount Everest. But with a little detective work and making use of free resources, we’ll show you how it can be done.

We’ll take you through the steps and considerations to help you figure out if you’ve lost any pensions and how to get leads from pension providers.

How to find out whether you’ve lost a pension

Finding old pensions is a lot like trying to find out where you misplaced your phone or wallet. Retracing your steps with a methodical approach can help you identify where you misplaced that pension.

To get started, grab a notepad or your computer and make a list of all the jobs you’ve had including your current role. Next, add your start and end dates for each one. Make a note of any pensions you’re aware of.

Now that you have dates to focus on, it’s time to do a little detective work. You may have received a paper or online statement from your pensions. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig through that dusty box of paperwork you’ve saved to find details of old pension schemes. If that doesn’t turn up any clues, look through your email inbox for online statements. If you still can’t find the details for a certain pension you think might exist, you may need to do a little more digging.

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How to figure out if you have unclaimed pensions

Finding a certificate from a pension provider doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a pension. Nor does seeing pension contribution deductions on your old payslips. There are many factors that can affect your eligibility. Your monthly contributions may have been refunded to you. The dates you were a scheme member may also affect your eligibility.

If the following scenarios apply to you, you could have received a refund on your contributions from a previous employer and aren’t entitled to a pension. This could apply if you left an employer:

  • Before April 1975 - but, this might not apply if you worked for this employer for over 15 years.
  • Between April 1975 and April 1988 - the exception is if you worked more than 5 years for this employer and were 27 years old or older.
  • After 1988 - unless you worked for this employer and completed more than two years of service.

All pension schemes are different, and these above guidelines aren’t guaranteed for all plans. To get a definite answer, you’ll need to speak to your pension provider.

How to find a lost pension from an old job

According to research from The Association of British Insurers, there’s an estimated £19.4 billion worth of lost pensions. And with the rise of pension review scams means you may lose even more money without trusted advice.

The easiest way to find out whether you have misplaced a workplace pension from a previous employer is to pick up the phone. A quick call or email to their HR department can help point you in the right direction. They’ll usually ask you to confirm your National Insurance number and the dates you worked for them.

It’s also helpful to include extra information to help them along, such as your full name, address and date of birth. Do consider whether you may have moved, as not updating your address with HR could explain why you’ve not received pension statements. If you have a lost pension, the HR team should be able to tell you your pension provider’s name, what type of plan it is and your policy number.

What if my employer went bust?

If your employer went bust, your pension doesn’t disappear with it. In fact, there’s a chance your pension might be managed by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) if you had a defined benefit (DB) pension. Since 2005, they’ve looked after and protected DB pensions for thousands of people.

The PPF’s pension schemes list can be a useful tool to help you find one of your old pensions. If this still doesn’t help, consider reaching out to former colleagues. It never hurts to ask. Your old workmate might have a statement from your old pension scheme and can point you in the right direction.

How to find an old private pension

If you think you may have one or more defined contribution (DC) or private pensions, you’ll need to find out who your pension provider is and get in touch with them. Some employers also offer access to stakeholder or personal workplace pensions, so they may also be able to help if you think your pension is one of these types.

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What to do after you’ve tracked down a pension

Now that you’ve discovered that you’ve lost a pension, you’ll need to find out more from your pension provider. It’s important to have as much information to hand to help them identify potential pensions you might hold. If possible, aim to provide:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your pension plan policy or account number
  • The date your pension plan started

Once the pension provider has located your details, they should be able to tell you more about your pension pot. This is a great opportunity to find out how much you may be entitled to when you retire.

Consider asking the following questions:

  • How much is my pension pot currently worth?
  • What pension options are available once I turn 55?
  • Am I entitled to death in service or other benefits?
  • What are the management charges?
  • How are my pension funds invested and can I choose these investments?
  • Have I nominated beneficiaries?
  • Can I transfer my pension to another provider?

The advantages and disadvantages of pension consolidation

What is pension consolidation?

Consolidating your pensions means combining them into a single pension pot. This gives you the option of managing one pension, rather than multiple ones. But while this may sound like a sensible choice, consolidation may not always be the right decision for your circumstances.

There are many things to consider. For one, you can’t reverse your decision, so it’s wise to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.

Pension consolidation pros and cons

Pros

  • It’s easier to manage one pension pot - You’ll get one statement, making it easier to keep track of your pension fund.
  • More control - Transferring out of older pensions into newer platforms means you may have access to increased fund choice, online portals and other tools.
  • You could have a bigger pension pot - Moving out of an old pension scheme that has higher charges and/or poor fund choices could mean big savings over time.

Cons

  • Transferring usually comes with a cost - Transferring and/or exit fees can be costly.
  • There’s no undo button - You can’t change your mind once you’ve combined.
  • You could lose benefits - Moving a defined benefit pension means you could lose out on guaranteed income, early access and other benefits.
  • You might pay more tax - A better-performing pension pot means you could end up in a higher tax bracket, and a higher tax liability.

Get expert advice on your options

If you’ve followed the steps above, you should have a good idea of what pensions you hold. But if you’re still struggling to find lost pensions, calling the government’s free Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 can help. They’ll search their database of workplace and personal pensions to help you get the contact details you need to begin your search.

After you’ve uncovered your lost pensions, it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to manage your pensions and prepare for retirement. With so many options to consider, this can seem daunting - unless you have an expert to do much of the heavy lifting.

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Taking the next step with your pensions

If you’ve followed the steps above, you should have a good idea of what pensions you hold. But if you’re still struggling to find lost pensions, calling the government’s free Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 can help. They’ll search their database of workplace and personal pensions to help you get the contact details you need to begin your search.

After you’ve uncovered your lost pensions, it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to manage them and whether to consolidate. With so many options to consider, this can seem daunting - unless you have an expert to do much of the heavy lifting. That’s where our free advisor matching service comes in.

Get pension advice from the experts

We hope that the above tips have helped you better understand the pros and cons of pension consolidation as well as how the UK government’s Pension Tracing Service can help you track down lost pension pots.

But, if you’re not sure whether pension consolidation is a good idea or not, don’t worry. We can help take the stress out of locating old pensions by connecting you with a local financial advisor, wherever you’re based in the UK.

Working with an FCA-regulated financial advisor can help you:

  • Understand whether transferring or consolidating your pension(s) is suitable for your circumstances
  • Gain a good overview of your current financial situation
  • Determine your financial goals and priorities
  • Form a solid retirement plan
  • Make the most of tax relief
  • Get personalised advice on your investment options

Getting advice on your pension has never been easier. Tell us what type of advice you’d like and a little about you and we’ll match you with the most suitable expert for your needs.

Your expert will invite you for a free 60-minute consultation, which we’ll arrange so you can ask questions and decide if their services could help you better manage your pensions.

Get quality pensions and retirement advice today. Click on the button below to match with a local expert now!Find a local advisor today!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2021 and has been expanded on and updated for accuracy.