How do I find out if I have a pension from an old job?
You may be thinking I’ve had more jobs than hot dinners and can’t remember who or what was going on at the time. How can I find my pension pots, I mean my pots of gold I seem to have left lying around?
Tracking down old pensions from your old job may well be very important for your overall net worth, especially if you are approaching retirement.
So here are a few ideas on how to go about finding old pensions.
How can I find my pension plan from a previous employer?
So life has happened, well keeps in happening and you have lost track of your pensions from previous jobs.
Maybe you have
- Changed jobs a lot
- Moved houses a lot
- Moved country now and again
- Changed your name, married, divorced and then remarried
- Just kept a pretty chaotic financial system, i.e. the draw of financial doom.
All or some of these might have resulted in you forgetting where on earth you left that pension. Or even if you ever had one with past employers.
The first thing to do is to try and remember where you worked and when. Can you dig out any of the paperwork from those past jobs?
Can you find your old
- P45 or P60 in the UK
- Contracts or job descriptions
- Do you have the contact details of the employer
- Do you know anyone that used to or still works there that you can ask
You could design yourself a table a bit like this to place your previous jobs in order and collect all the data you might need.
The more info you have, the easier it will be to track the pension down.
|Employers name||Contact details||Dates worked there||Payslips||P45/P60||Contract or employment details||Staff number||Any old contacts|
Once you have tracked down the contact details of your old employers, you can contact them directly to enquire do you have a pension with them.
Using LinkedIn to track down old pensions
Another method to track down old pensions might be to use Linkedin. Here you can tack down your old company, see who the current HR people are and contact them directly.
If the company doesn’t exist anymore you might be able to track down old colleagues (if you didn’t leave in a blaze of fire and swearing) connect with them and then ask “errr I know we haven’t spoken for 20 years but, do you/we/I have a pension from the old company?”
Can I find my pensions with my national insurance number?
Yes, your national insurance number (NI) will be a bit of critical data to use to track down your pensions. Your NI number is unique to you so will be the one bit of info that should only be linked to you.
You can use your NI number to contact government departments and see if they can track down old pensions. They are likely also to want other info like old addresses and possibly additional identifying info like passport numbers or driving licences.
If you have worked across public and private sectors, then you might need to use at least two different services or methods to track down old pensions.
Contacting your old employers
First of all, you can contact your old employers if they are still around and ask them (I know who would have thought of doing this!).
I know it’s going to feel like contacting an old partner to say it hasn’t gone as well as you expected and can you have that 20 quid you lent them 15 years ago. But swallow the pride and try and find that small or large pot of gold with your name on it.
You can also use the Pensions tracing service which with a bit of info from you will search if or where your old pension might be. This service is free, but there are also paid options out there that you might want to consider.
If you worked for the government at any time, you could contact the Department for work and pensions who can help track it down.
How do I get my pension from a previous employer?
Once you have contacted and found out, you have a pension its likely you will need to carry on the conversation with the actual pension provide or pension scheme as it’s they who are likely holding it for you.
Here’s where you are going to want to understand:
- what your pension is invested in,
- the fees you are currently paying,
- if you can or how you might transfer it and what the costs of this might be
- What your pension is now worth.
With this information you can review if its worth transfer it to a new employer pension, keeping it where it is or seeking further financial advice.
You will likely need to seek financial advice if your old pension is a defined benefit pension and or if your pension pot is particularly large and might need further thought before transferring.
It also depends on what age you are as to what you can do with it as if you are over 55 then you might be able to start accessing it now.
Is it better to transfer pensions into one?
This probably depends on what you have found out in the above investigations.
From an admin perspective, it can be a good idea to combine pensions as now you just have one account to look after.
If the fees of some of your pensions are higher than others, it might be an idea to combine them to lower your fees and keep more of your money yours.
What the pension is invested in may play a factor in whether you want to switch if you think the companies invested in are no longer what you want to support or value anymore.
All the above would need to be reviewed against what might be the disadvantages usually along the line of any penalties or fees to transfer or loss of benefits with particular regards to any guaranteed payouts associated with defined-benefit pensions.
Some further pension reading for you
Summary: How do I find out if I have a pension from an old job?
You’re going to need to do a bit of investigation work
Find all the paperwork you can from old employers, payslips, p45/p60, contracts.
Contact your old employers and or colleagues that used to work there and ask them was there a pension at your old job?
Then speak to the pension provider to understand what your pension is invested in, fees, current worth and if or how you might transfer it if that’s what you wanted to do.
Good luck out there.
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