Tracing old pensions
Last updated on 17 February 2016
The Pension Tracing Service is a free government service that can help you track down pensions from schemes you have lost contact with.
It’s estimated that one in six people may have lost touch with an old pension scheme. Even if you have only a small amount saved in these schemes, it is still worth tracking them down. They could provide extra pension later on or a cash sum straight away.
Old pensions: hidden treasure
Over the years, you may accumulate bits and pieces of pension from many different sources. This may include:
• Company pension schemes (also called occupational pension schemes or superannuation schemes) run by employers you used to work for.
• Personal pensions you stopped paying into when you joined a different pension scheme at work.
• Personal pensions taken out if in the past you had been 'contracted out' of part of the State Pension scheme. Being contracted out meant you gave up building up part of your State Pension and some of your National Insurance contributions were paid into this scheme to provide you with a personal pension instead.
You may have transferred the pensions you were building up under these schemes to a new employer's company scheme or to a new personal pension. But, if you didn't do that, you probably still have the right to a pension when you retire or possibly, from age 55 onwards, a cash lump sum straight away.
Either way, usually you can take a quarter of these savings as tax-free cash. The rest, whether taken out as a pension or lump sum, is treated as taxable income.
To make sure you don’t lose out, it’s essential these old schemes have your up-to-date contact details, so always give them your new address whenever you move home. But what can you do if you have lost touch?
How the Pension Tracing Service can help
The Pension Tracing Service is a free, government scheme specially set up to help with tracing old pensions. It may be able to give you the contact details for a company pension scheme or personal pension that you have lost touch with. It is then up to you to contact the scheme for details of any pension.
Don’t confuse this government service with private firms that use the same or similar name but which charge you a fee.
Without charge, the government service will search a database of over 200,000 schemes. This includes details of the new company or provider name if your old scheme has been taken over or changed its name over the years.
How to trace old pensions
You can get in touch with the Pension Tracing Service either by phone on 0345 6002 537 (8am to 6pm) or by filling in an online form on the Gov.uk website.
You need to give the service as much information as you can about the scheme you have lost. Ideally, this should include:
• For an occupational pension scheme (company pension scheme or superannuation scheme): name of the employer and type of business, last address you have for the scheme, when you belonged to the scheme.
• For a personal pension: name of the scheme, last address you have for the scheme, the name of any bank, insurance company or building society associated with the scheme.