With the increasing popularity of auto-enrolment workplace pensions, when people switch jobs, they often forget to move or combine that old workplace pension. These pensions could be classed as a 'Frozen Pension' as they no longer receive new contributions.
The definition of a frozen pension
The term “frozen pension” usually relates to an old workplace pension that no longer receives contributions from your former employer or you.
The technical term to describe these pension pots is a ‘dormant pension’, or ‘preserved pension.’
How do frozen pensions work?
Although you nor your old employer are still contributing to these pensions, the money within these funds could continue to grow, that’s why the term ‘Frozen pension’ isn’t technically correct. You should also still be receiving an annual statement from your provider. If you aren’t, you should call the provider and update your contact details to ensure you are being communicated with.
Even if the pension pot funds are small, it is still your money that you’ve earned and saved, so it’s essential to keep track of them.
Not only will the regular pension statement give you peace of mind that you know where your pension funds are, but you’ll also benefit from full visibility over all your savings and how they’re performing.
How do I find dormant pension pots?
If you think you are missing some pension funds from your old employers, then tracking down these funds is a must. If you don’t have any of your past statements to hand or have simply forgotten the details of your pension fund, there are a couple of ways in which you can locate previous providers.
Option 1 – Speak with your old employer.
If you speak with your previous employer or their HR department, they should be able to give you the details of the company pension provider that you invested with. From there, contact the provider and give them your name, National Insurance number and address so they can check their records. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find your pension policy. If you pass their security procedures, update your contact information and send you an updated pension statement.
Option2 – Government’s Pension Tracing Service.
Contacting your employers is the most effective way of finding your old employer pension details. But, if you think you have multiple dormant pensions, it could save you time by using the Government’s Pension Tracing Service here. The free database will allow you to enter your employer’s details and if found, will tell you the contact details for the pension provider. Again, you will need to speak with the provider to get your pension information and to update your details.
Do frozen pensions continue to grow?
Yes, although you or your old employer no longer contribute to a dormant pension, the funds may continue to grow over time (although they can reduce depending on management fees). You will be able to access the pension as usual provided you’re over the age of 55 or combine it with any other pensions you may have. Find out more about combining pensions here.
What charges will I have to pay?
As like with every personal pension, you will be paying management fees for the provider to manage your savings. Hopefully, the management fees will be less than the growth earned from your account, so your pension can continue to grow.
If you decide to merge your pension with another pension you have, you may have to pay exit fees with the existing provider to move your funds. Before deciding to move your pension, we’d always recommend speaking with a pension adviser at Hilltop Finance.
What can you do with a frozen pension?
Now you’ve found all of your ‘Frozen Pensions’ what can you do with them?
A couple of options you could consider:
Leave your funds in the pension pot.
If your pension has been growing and you’re comfortable keeping a check on a few pension pots, leaving your dormant pension where it is could make sense. It’s always a good idea, though to speak with a pension advisor. Ask them to perform a few checks to see if the pension is suitable for you, you’re not paying high charges, and it’s in a risky fund.
Combine your pensions into one pension pot.
Now you’ve found an extra pension or multiple pensions, it could be a good idea to merge your pensions. An experienced and independent pension adviser will be able to check your current pension policies and assess them against the market to see if you’re getting a good deal. If merging your pensions into one fund is suitable for you, they will advise this and could help combine your pensions.
By combining your pensions, it could be easier to keep track of your funds and ensure that you don’t lose sight of your savings again. You could also benefit from better performance, lower fees and having a pension that’s more suitable for your needs.
Can I access a ‘dormant pension’?
If you’re aged 55 or over, and your pension is a defined contribution policy, yes you can take benefits or access a dormant pension.
You can do this in the same way as you would with any pension. You could take a 25% tax-free lump sum, arrange for regular payments out of the account (called Pension Drawdown) or use the money to purchase a pension annuity.
We’d always recommend speaking with an adviser before taking any money out of your pension. An adviser can ensure that you’re making the right decision and are fully aware of the impact withdrawing money could have on your later life.
Speak with Hilltop Finance
If you have tracked down your ‘Frozen pensions’ and looking for advice on what to do with them, our advisers are on hand to give you a quick pension summary to tell you what you currently have. Please call 0161 413 7051 or click here and we’ll call you back for free.