‘I’m 65 and set to retire with just state pension as I don't know how to trace pension pots’ - Experts reply

Man looks at calculator and documents with laptop in front of him

Millions of pension pots are considered lost

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 22/10/2023

- 20:52

Updated: 22/10/2023

- 21:39

A GB News reader who faces retiring with just a state pension asked how they could track down lost pension pots

UK pension savers are at risk of missing out on thousands of pounds in retirement, with research suggesting more than 2.8 million pension pots are considered lost.

The study, published in 2022, found these pots are worth a total of £26.6billion. According to a Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) briefing note, which was sponsored by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Punter Southall Aspire (PS Aspire) and published last year, the value of lost pension pots in the UK has risen by 37 per cent in 2018 – a rise of £7billion.

With National Pension Tracing Day just around the corner, now could be a good time for pension savers of all ages to check to see if they have any lost pension pots.

GB News reader Tim, whose name has been changed, is among those wondering how to go about tracing pension pots.

WATCH NOW: GB News panellists discuss state pension triple lock

Tim, 65, is hoping to retire this year but is set to rely on just the state pension. The full new state pension is currently worth £10,600 a year - although the amount a person gets depends on their National Insurance record.

GB News asked several retirement experts what they suggest.

Do you have a money story you'd like to share or a financial question you'd like the experts to answer? Get in touch by emailing money@gbnews.uk.

Tim, asks: “I’m due to retire in 2023 with just a state pension. I have been looking to move to a more financially viable country, as I don’t own a home and my partner of 30 years and I will have to survive on my pension.

“Over the years I have worked for several companies but I have no idea how to claim any possible pension pots that I may have acquired with them. I have a very bad memory so dates are a hindrance for me. I’m also not really sure if I have paid into a pension with any of the companies, although I expect I have. Most of my employment terms were for a few years so my pots will be small.

“How do I trace the companies and the pension companies that would hold any possible pension?

“Is there a way that I can request details from providers with my social security number without specific dates? Is there a list of pension holding companies or is this infinite?

"I presume because some of these companies do not trade anymore there must still be a pension in my name somewhere, how do you find the company that holds any possible pension if the company I worked for has ceased?”

Dean Butler, managing director for Retail Direct at Standard Life replies: “Before you make the big decision to leave the UK, make sure you’ve had a look at the wide range of support here. There are lots of state benefits available – the Government's benefits calculators page is a good port of call to check what you might be entitled to.

"If you’re in a couple, both yourself and your partner are of state pension age, and your combined income is less than £306.85, you’re likely to be eligible for Pension Credit. It’s worth £3,500 a year on average so can be a real help. People who claim Pension Credit may also be able to get help with heating costs, NHS services, rent and council tax and a free TV license.

“The issue of lost pension pots is a big one - it’s estimated that there’s £26.6billion sitting in lost pensions plans in the UK. The good news is it can be relatively easy to find them. If you have your National Insurance number, and the names of your previous employers, you can use the Government’s Pension Tracing Service to track them down. You can search using a previous or current name of an employer, and can use Companies House to check the name of a company even if it’s gone out of business.

"If you’re having real trouble finding the name of your old employers, try reaching out to old colleagues to check, if possible. When you track your pots down, you could be in for a nice surprise – thanks to potential investment growth and compounding, they might be a bit bigger than you expect.”

Becky O'Connor in photo for PensionBee

Becky O'Connor is the director of public affairs at online pension provider PensionBee


Becky O’Connor, director of public affairs at online pension provider PensionBee, says: “Firstly, it’s great that you are able to remember at least the names of the companies you used to work for. That’s the first step in being able to trace your old pensions. Write down the names of these companies.

“A good first port of call is the Government’s free pension tracing service. You need either the old employer names or the name of the pension provider that provided the workplace scheme to use this.

“If the Government tracing service doesn’t give the results you were expecting, you can try finding the contact details of the HR/ payroll division of each company and either call or email them with your name yourself, so that they can see if you had a pension with them. Your National Insurance number will also come in handy here. They shouldn’t need the dates you were employed to find details of any pension you have with them. They should also be able to tell you the name of the provider that pension is with. Again, write these down as you go.

“If you wanted to bring all of your old pensions together, you can ask a pension consolidation company, such as PensionBee, to track your old pensions with these employers for you, then consolidate them if that’s best for you. With so many small pots from former work, it does sound like you could be an ideal candidate for consolidation, although this will also depend on the type of pensions you had and whether they came with any other valuable benefits that you’d lose if you consolidated.

“One thing that can cause a stumbling block is when former employers change names. You may find that when you worked there, it was called something else. You will still be able to contact the HR/ payroll division of the newly-named company to find your old pension.

"Using old employer names through the Government pension tracing service or provider names through a consolidation pension company like PensionBee is a much simpler way of finding your old pensions than trying to jump the middleman and going to pension providers themselves.

“If the company no longer trades, you can check whether its pension scheme is now part of the Pension Protection Fund here, although this applies to private sector defined benefit schemes only.

"If your pension was a defined contribution scheme and the employer went bust, the pension should still be with the old pension provider - the Government tracing service should be able to identify this for you.

“A quick word of warning: there are pension tracing companies that charge a fee for finding your old pensions for you. There is no need to pay for this. If you are planning on using the free Government service, make sure you are using the right website, here.”

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