Dealing with pension problems and making a complaint

If there’s a problem with your pension, there are organisations that can help. This guide tells you who you can complain to and what you can expect.

Your State Pension

In most cases, your first point of contact if you have a complaint related to your State Pension is The Pension Service (0345 606 0265), which will respond to your complaint within seven days.

However, if your complaint relates to your National Insurance contributions record, you should contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You’ll find details of HMRC’s complaints procedures on its website.

If you subsequently wish to take your complaint further, you can do so through the relevant tribunal:

Defined contribution pensions

The correct organisation to contact with your complaint depends on the nature of the problem – see below.

Complaints about the way your pension scheme is being run

In the first instance you should contact the company through which you joined the pension scheme. This might be the pension provider itself, or it could be a professional financial adviser.

If you’re unable to resolve the problem in this way, your next step is to contact the Pensions Ombudsman by phoning 020 7630 2200. It offers a free service aimed at settling disputes of this kind.

Complaints about the selling and marketing of pensions

If you think you were wrongly advised when you bought your pension, or, for example, you were given information that’s turned out to be incorrect, you should complain to the company you bought the pension from (the provider or financial adviser). If you are not happy with the way they deal with your complaint, you should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9 123.

A typical example of the kind of complaint handled by the Ombudsman would be where someone was advised to take out a personal pension when they should have joined their workplace scheme.

If your pension provider goes out of business

If your pension provider goes out of business or goes into insolvency, leaving it unable to pay you money you are owed, you should contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) on 0800 678 1100.

Defined benefit pensions

If your employer operates an occupational pension scheme (such a salary-related pension), then by law it must have a formal complaints procedure. So your first step in complaining should be to ask your employer what you need to do.

  • If you can’t resolve the issue in this way, contact The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 or using the link below.
  • If that doesn’t solve the problem, contact the Pension Ombudsman on 020 7630 2200.

If your employer goes bust

If you’re a member of a defined benefit pension scheme (a final salary or other earnings-related pension) and your employer goes bust and there is not enough money in its scheme to pay your pension, you may be able to get help through an organisation called the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The amount of compensation you may get will vary according to your circumstances:

  • If you have retired and are beyond the scheme’s normal retirement age and are already drawing your pension then the PPF will normally continue to pay you the same pension as you are already getting.
  • If you retired early and are already taking your pension you will receive 90% of your pension payment amount subject to an annual cap. The cap amount depends on your age and the date the company went bust – the earlier you retired the lower the cap. You can check current cap rates on the PPF website.
  • If you haven’t started taking your pension, once you reach your scheme’s normal retirement age, the PPF provides 90% of the income you would have received through your pension, using a cap as described above.

In all cases, your pension will increase in line with inflation for contributions made from 5 April 1997 – currently subject to a 2.5% maximum. Any element of your pension based on contributions made before this date will stay the same.

If you have a complaint about a financial adviser

If you have a complaint relating to a financial adviser, your first step should be to try to resolve it with them. They should have procedures in place to deal with these issues.

If you are not happy with their response, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123 – they will help you resolve the problem.

If your complaint relates to money that you’ve lost due to bad advice, but your adviser has gone out of business, you should contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) on 0800 678 1100.

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