There is a significant amount of money sitting unclaimed in pension schemes in Ireland, a quick search of the internet and you’ll find the amount of these ranges anywhere between €500million and €1billion. Unfortunately unlike in other countries, there is no central register of old pension schemes in Ireland that you can access and find the necessary information. This lack of a central service has been raised by politicians over the years, but with no success as yet.
This money is owned by the beneficiaries – most often ex-employees. It’s really important to remember that all of this money is held in trust and completely separate to the assets of the employer. So even if the company is no longer in existence, the money is still sitting there somewhere, waiting to be claimed by its owner – the ex-employee.
You might dismiss for example a tiny amount from early in your career as not worth the hassle to chase up. However time and compound interest do wonderful things to pensions funds - Albert Einstein once said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”. If you assume for a minute that you left your first employer at age 30 and left behind your pension fund with €10,000 in it. The company may be gone, you’ve no idea where to start looking for the money and don’t think it’s worth the hassle. However if the fund grows on average by 5% p.a. and you retire at age 65, it will then be worth over €55,000. Now that is definitely worth chasing! The benefits may be even more valuable if they were built up in a Defined Benefit pension scheme.
Probably the biggest frustration for many people in this situation is that it is not easy to find and claim old pension scheme benefits. Your old employer from 20/30 years ago may no longer be in existence, and you may not know who the pension scheme administrators were. Quite often, people have simply binned any correspondence that they got over the years. This can turn out to be an expensive mistake.
So what should you do if your old employer is no longer in existence and you want to track down your benefits?
This is a really important step. Retain any scheme benefit statements that you get for your pension scheme and retain contact details of the scheme administrators. Remember when you move house etc. to keep them updated of your changed contact details. Also if you change your name when you get married, it makes sense to get them to update their records.
Talk to old colleagues
If you have no paperwork, quite often you will find that a slightly older ex-colleague may well have faced this exact same situation themselves in the recent past. Reach out to them – they just might be able to save you a whole heap of work by passing on the details of the pensions scheme administrator.
Contact The Pensions Authority
If all else fails, contact The Pensions Authority who regulate most of the pension schemes in Ireland. They may be able to help you track down the administrators of your old scheme.
As mentioned earlier it is usually well worth the trouble of chasing up on these old benefits. It could produce a really nice boost to your other pension funds.
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