Find out about pensions and how we can help if you have a complaint about your pension or annuity.
This page contains information about our general approach to complaints about pensions. If you’re looking for information specifically in relation to Covid-19, please look at our dedicated page that contains information for consumers about complaints in relation to Covid-19.
What are pensions and annuities?
Pensions are a way of saving towards retirement. Payments can be made into a pension in lump sums and/or in stages, by way of regular (often monthly) contributions. And although you’ll be making contributions yourself, your employer might also contribute.
Pensions are tax efficient savings plans. “Tax relief” – so the amount of income tax which you’ll have paid on the amount of your contribution - is usually added to the amount paid into the pension, up to certain limits, and growth in the pension is also largely free of tax. And when you come to retire, you’ll usually be able to take part of the pension as a tax-free lump sum, with the remainder being subject to income tax.
Until April 2015, the remaining part of a pension pot after any tax free cash needed to be taken as a regular payment for life, called an annuity - or in more flexible “income withdrawals” which were nevertheless still constrained by government approved yearly limits.
From April 2015, the “pension freedoms” introduced by the government at the time meant that people could take as much of a personal pension pot as they liked in one go (subject to restrictions on some types of pension). But anything beyond the tax free cash amount would still be subject to income tax.
How we handle complaints about pensions and annuities
We’ll look at the facts and circumstances of each individual complaint and we’ll listen impartially to both what you and the business have to say.
We’ll reach what we consider to be a fair and reasonable outcome in the particular circumstances of a complaint. We’ll also take into account whether – and how – the business you’ve complained about has tried to put things right.
If we uphold a complaint we’ll try, as far as possible, to put you in the position you would have been but for the business’ error. This could take the form of financial compensation paid to your pension plan or directly to you. We might also make an award for any trouble and upset caused.
There are limits to the amount of an award we can make. You can find out more about our award limits.
Complaints we see
Generally, pensions fall into two categories – workplace pensions and personal pensions. But an employer can set up some personal pensions. And people who run their own businesses can set up some workplace pensions.
We look at complaints about businesses regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We can only look at a complaint about a workplace pension if it’s about the way it’s been administered by an FCA-regulated business, or if it and its investments have been advised upon by an FCA-regulated business. All other complaints about workplace pensions are dealt with by the Pensions Ombudsman. Complaints about state pensions are usually dealt with by the Pension Service.
Where we aren’t able to look at a complaint, we’ll tell you about any other organisation that might be able to help. You can find more specific detail about the types of complaints we see in the links below:
How to complain
How long it takes
It is currently taking 7 months for us to allocate a complaint about pensions to a case handler for review.
If you're facing financial hardship or severe ill health, please let us know. We're working hard to reduce this wait time, so you may hear from us sooner than this. Once your complaint is allocated, you can expect to receive an initial assessment within 90 days.
You may also find the Money Advice Service website useful if you want to contact one of the independent free charities that can help people in financial difficulty.