Pension Tracing

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Pension Tracing

Pension Tracing

Paul Chambers Cooper explains the process of tracing your pensions.

How do I access my pension and track my pension claim? What information do I need to track unclaimed pensions?

It depends what information you have about the pension. A lot of people have letters from old pension providers or they get an annual statement sent. If you’ve got the name of your pension provider and your plan number, it’s really easy.  

You can phone up the company and they’ll send you the latest plan information or, as an advisor I can get you to sign a letter, then we can write off to the provider with your permission. We can get all of the plan information. 

If you know you had some old pensions but have lost the paperwork – which is quite common – we can still trace it fairly easily.  There’s a government pension finder site which helps us establish who the pension provider might be, based on your employer. 

We would generally look for who you worked for and the dates when you worked there. A lot of people might have been known by a different name at that time. We would ask about previous addresses, your national insurance number, date of birth et cetera and we can write off to the company you worked for, or whoever administers their pension. 

They will come back to say either there wasn’t a pension or indeed there is a pension and provide the details. It can be a slightly time-consuming process but it is quite straightforward. You’d be surprised how many people do have lots of pensions and almost forget about them rather than looking after them.

How many years do you need to contribute to get a full pension?

To get a full state pension, which is now over £10,000 a year, you’ve got to make 35 years of National Insurance contributions. However, you can make voluntary contributions – perhaps you worked overseas or have been below the earnings threshold years ago. 

In terms of private pensions, the more you pay in, the more you’re going to have at the end: the greater your pension pot’s going to be worth. There’s no set answer – it depends how you want to draw a pension, how much you’re likely to need in retirement and also how affordable it is to make the payments. 

The big thing here is make sure you get your national insurance paid up so you get your full state pension, and put as much as you possibly can away to have the most comfortable retirement possible.

What is a pension review and is it necessary for all pensions?

Obviously how necessary something is will be subjective. But I think it is something that everyone should do, to make sure their pensions are working for them and that their goals and aspirations are aligned with what’s in their pension, because things do change over time.

We would look at your existing pension provision, how much you’ve got and how far we are from your anticipated retirement date. We’d look at how much we know you’re going to get in retirement. 

Some people will have final salary pensions from old jobs or even a current job. We’ll look at your state pension forecast and at other savings. People have got private pension pots which are accruing, and we’ll ask some basic questions about how much you’re hoping to have in retirement and what sort of retirement you’d be comfortable with. 

We would then normally do some cash flow analysis. We look at what you’ve got in your pension pot and what that’s going to pay you each year once you do retire. 

Assuming you’re not right at the point of retirement, we’ll look at how you might contribute more into your pension and get the greatest growth. We’d look at your attitude to risk and capacity for loss. We’d make sure that the investments that you’ve got match that attitude to risk. 

We wouldn’t want to put your pension funds into a really risky investment unless that was something you were comfortable with. Likewise, we want to make sure there’s potential for growth that matches your aspirations for retirement. 

Once we know what sort of retirement you’re going to have, we make sure that when you do retire you can draw on your pension in the right way. We want to make sure you’ve got enough money, but not take money out that you don’t need – because then you lose the growth potential. 

When you do retire we make sure that we draw your money down in the most tax-efficient way possible. 

I would encourage people to review what’s happening on a regular basis. Looking at what’s happening in your pension and your whole financial situation tends to get the best from it, because we can adjust things accordingly to match the changing playing field.

Can I lose my pension in the UK? How do I find my old and lost pensions?

I suppose you can lose your pension in the UK, it can actually be really easy. The average person stays in a job these days for six or seven years, so over your career there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have some old pensions kicking around. 

In my previous employment I had a pension with Legal and General, and until quite recently  the letter used to go to my mother’s house. Fortunately, my mother stayed living there and eventually I did something with it. But people do move on. They don’t update their pension providers with their new addresses or keep records of the paperwork. 

So yes, it’s possible to lose your pension and it’s important to find them again.  If you had a job and you think you had a pension, we can find out who administered that pension scheme – there’s a government service which will help us do that. 

We can write off to that scheme with dates that you worked at the company, your national insurance number, date of birth and previous addresses and they can quickly track down a pension. 

It takes a bit of time but then we get that pension information and can make plans based on that.

Speak To an Expert

Aitana Financial Services was established in 1993, and today we cover the whole of the country, focusing on giving the best advice for your circumstances. We really pride ourselves on the quality of our advice, and it’s the reason we’ve grown through recommendations from happy clients.

What happens when a pension recipient dies? What happens to the pension fund of the deceased?

It really depends on the type of pension. Some people have final salary pensions, which will  often pay a certain proportion of that pension to their spouse. 

The most common type of pension is a defined contribution scheme. Most people refer to that as private pensions. That pension scheme doesn’t die with you. It stays very much alive. 

If you are fortunate enough to have an estate which is quite large and you fall into the inheritance tax bracket, your pension sits outside of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. 

Depending on the age at which you die, your beneficiary may be able to draw that pension entirely tax-free. 

Is there an app or service that tracks pension funds?

There are plenty of advisors like me who would help you to do that. As far as I’m aware there isn’t any central app that can track multiple different pension schemes, although that’s something that the government is looking to bring together. 

They are considering a system where you can log on and see all of your pensions –  because they are attached to your national insurance number.

The government is keen that people don’t lose their pensions so that they can have a comfortable retirement without drawing lots of state benefits. 

We’ll see how long it takes the government to come up with that. But if people do sit down and consolidate their pensions with an advisor, we provide a platform where you can see all your pensions. But even then it will only be the pensions that have been transferred – and  we wouldn’t necessarily transfer every pension. Sometimes they’re best left where they are. 

How can a financial adviser like yourself help?

One thing we know is that most people who receive advice tend to have a more comfortable retirement. We can help you make decisions. We can look at your pension funds, savings, mortgages and all manner of financial affairs. 

By looking at it holistically, with someone who’s qualified and has had training and and is up to date with what’s happening in the markets, we can adjust what you have in a way that suits your aims, aspirations and anticipated retirement date.

We know when to start de-risking things so it’s ready to draw down. Risk is a huge thing when it comes to pensions and investments. We want to reduce the risk as much as we can so that when you do come to retirement, as much money as possible is there. 

Having financial advice is massively beneficial. I truly believe in it – I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t. You’d be amazed at the number of people financial advice won’t help them – but everyone who works now is enrolled in a pension scheme. There is a huge scope for a financial adviser to help. 

Once you get to 70 and start drawing your pension, you might wish that you had engaged with someone a little bit sooner.


The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount invested.

HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen.

Pension tracing services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 28/02/2024..