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Can I complain?

Can I complain?

We can help with a complaint or dispute about an occupational or personal pension scheme if you are: 

  • a member of a scheme or think you should be
  • a beneficiary - entitled to benefits from someone else’s pension scheme, for example, following a divorce or the death of a member
  • an employer participating in a scheme 
  • a trustee or manager of a scheme.

We can also help if you have a complaint about a decision made by the Pension Protection Fund or the Financial Assistance Scheme.

What should I do first?

First, you should give the party you think is at fault a chance to put things right. If you are unhappy with their reply or they do not respond within eight weeks, you can submit an application to us. We will then be able to consider how best we can help.

We operate an Early Resolution Service as well as a formal adjudication service. This means, wherever possible, we resolve complaints informally at an early stage. So, if you have not already complained to the party you think is at fault and need some help, please contact us.

You also need to check if you are within time to bring a complaint to us.

Usually, you need to contact us within three years of the event you are complaining about happening or within three years of when you first knew about it (or should have known about it). Sometimes, this time limit can be extended. For example, we will use our discretion to expand this time limit for new applicants who have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

We can help if you:

  • are, or were, a member of the pension scheme
  • think you should be a member of the pension scheme
  • are a beneficiary - this means you believe you are entitled to benefits from someone else’s pension scheme, for example, following a divorce or the death of a member.

A ‘member’ is anyone who has joined a pension scheme and is entitled to payments from it now, or in the future.  

Things we CAN look at

We can look at complaints about the way personal and occupational pension schemes are run. You can complain to us about the employer, trustee, manager or administrator of the scheme. We can look at things like:

  • 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.

Things we CANNOT look at

There are some things that we cannot look at, including:

  • complaints about State Pensions
  • tracing a lost pension
  • sales or marketing (mis-selling) of pensions
  • where a decision has been made by a tribunal, court or another Ombudsman.

If you are unsure about whether we can investigate your complaint, please contact us.

If there are a number of you who have the same problem with the same scheme, this is called a group complaint. Find out how we deal with these in the section on ‘what to expect.’

If you are an employer participating in a scheme, you can ask us to investigate if you think there is a problem with the way a pension scheme is run.

We can also look at a dispute of fact or law between you and the other people who run the pension scheme. 

If you ask us to investigate a complaint or dispute you will not need to show that injustice has occurred.

Things we CAN look at if you are an employer, include:

  • a complaint you may have about the trustees or the managers of the same scheme.

Things we CANNOT look at if you are an employer, include:

  • a dispute against the administrators of the same pension scheme.

If you are unsure about whether we can investigate your complaint, please contact us.

If you are a trustee or manager of a pension scheme, you can ask us to investigate if you think there is a problem with the way a pension scheme is run.

We can also look at a dispute of fact or law between you and the other people who run the pension scheme.

Things we CAN look at if you are a trustee or manager

  • a complaint you may have about the employer of the same scheme

  • a complaint that involves the trustees or managers of a different pension scheme

  • a dispute between the trustees of the same pension scheme where at least 50% of the trustees refer the complaint to us

If you are a sole trustee with a question regarding the discharge of your role as trustee, please contact us.

Things we CANNOT look at if you are a trustee or manager

  • a complaint you may have with the same scheme’s managers or administrators

  • a complaint that has been dealt with by a court or another ombudsman

If you are unsure about whether we can investigate your complaint, please contact us.

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If you have not already complained

and need some help, contact us.

Contact us

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What do I do next?

Once you have checked that your complaint is something we can deal with, you will need to submit an application and send us any documents related to your complaint. If you have not already complained to those involved and need some help, please contact us.

You can find out more about our processes and how we deal with your application in the next section.

Find out what’s involved

Pension Protection Fund and Financial Assistance Scheme

What if my complaint is about a decision made by the Pension Protection Fund or the Financial Assistance Scheme?