How to trace a lost or forgotten pension
You could be losing out on tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of euro by forgetting about or failing to track down a pension taken out in your youth. Many Irish people are losing out on pensions taken out in their early career - particularly if they have worked overseas or have moved jobs a number of times. It is well worth chasing up any pension pots from previous jobs, however, according to James Skehan, head of pensions with New Ireland.
For example, let's say you're a 35-year-old who is changing job and you have built up a pension fund worth €10,000 with the employer you are leaving. This fund could be worth about €29,000 by the time you retire - assuming you retire at 65, "This could add €90 a month to your pension income in retirement - assuming you buy an annuity," says Skehan.
To prevent yourself running into difficulties tracing a pension you took out in your early career, keep a record of the name of the administrator for each of the pension schemes you have paid into, as well as the administrator contact details.
Update that record should there be a change of administrator. Be sure too to inform the administrators if you change your address, so that it can contact you when the time approaches for your pension to be paid - or if there have been any major developments affecting your pension. The same applies should you decide to change your surname after getting married. Otherwise, you risk losing out on that pension.
Hold onto any important pension documents you receive while in a job, including your annual benefit statements (annual updates on the value of your pension). This will make it easier for you to trace the pension in the future - and to prove you have an entitlement to a pension. (There are some cases where pensions have been lost because records were destroyed after a change of pensions administrator).
It can be particularly hard to trace a pension if you have moved abroad since taking one out, if the employer who provided that pension is no longer around or has gone bust, or if the pension provider itself has changed its name.
Should you hit a brick wall when tracing a pension, contact the Pensions Authority as it keeps a register of company pension schemes. Another useful way to track a pension is to ask previous colleagues who also worked with the employer.
"Remember, the money in a pension is held in trust," says Jim Hegarty, chairman of Hegarty Financial Management. In other words, it is still your money and still there - so don't give up on it. It could make all the difference between a cash-strapped retirement and a comfortable one.
Sunday Indo Business