What is the Pensions Ombudsman?

The Pensions Ombudsman (PO) is an independent organisation that investigates complaints about how pension schemes in the UK are run.

The Pensions Ombudsman was set up in 1991 and is responsible for investigating complaints from private and workplace pension scheme members on how their pension is being run. It also has the power to consider complaints made against the Pension Protection Fund and to appeal decisions made by the Financial Assistance Scheme. The Pensions Ombudsman service is free for pension scheme members to use, as well as a scheme’s beneficiaries, employers and trustees.

Making a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman

If you have a complaint about how your pension scheme is being run and have already tried to settle it without reaching a suitable resolution, you can contact the Pensions Ombudsman for help.

It’s possible to complain about a workplace pension scheme or a personal pension scheme that you are a member of, but you must contact the Pensions Ombudsman within three years of your grievance occurring or within three years of the grievance coming to your attention.

The Pensions Ombudsman can help you if your complaint is about:

  • The people who run your pension scheme, such as employers, trustees, scheme administrators or managers
  • An issue which affects you personally, such as losing money or suffering from distress or inconvenience as a direct consequence of action taken by your pension scheme

Specifically, the Pensions Ombudsman addresses complaints in relation to the following situations and pension scheme behaviours:

  • Taking too long to do something without good reason
  • Failing to do something they should have
  • Not following their own rules or the law
  • Breaking a promise
  • Giving incorrect or misleading information
  • Not making a decision in the right way

However, the Pensions Ombudsman can’t help you if your complaint is about:

  • State Pensions
  • Tracing a lost pension
  • Sales or marketing (mis-selling) of pensions
  • The type of benefits your pension scheme offers
  • A decision made by a tribunal, court or another Ombudsman

When it comes to pension ombudsman decisions, the facts of each dispute will be looked at on a case by case basis without bias, with the aim of finding a fair resolution. The Pensions Ombudsman has the legal power to make decisions that are final, binding and enforceable in court. You can search the Pensions Ombudsman’s database of past decisions to find out how complaints of a similar nature have been resolved.

You can contact the Pensions Ombudsman Service about any UK-based pension scheme by calling 020 7630 2200 or by emailing enquiries@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk. If you have a complaint about a pension scheme administered in the Isle of Man email ombudsman@pensions-ombudsman.im.

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