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Is there a time limit on bringing a complaint to you?

There are time limits within which complaints need to be brought to The Pensions Ombudsman. In most cases, applications need to be made to us within three years of the event being complained about, or, if later, within three years of when you were aware of this issue or should have been aware of it. 

These time limits can only be extended where reasonable to do so, for example if it can be shown that the complaint was delayed because of serious ill health, pressing family concerns, it was held up with another organisation (such as the Financial Ombudsman Service) or if reasonable continuous and concerted efforts were being made to resolve matters. We may also use our discretion to expand this time limit for new applicants who have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

If more than one event is being complained about, it may be that some are within our time limits and others are outside them.  

Similarly, if the complaint is about something that a pension scheme does regularly, such as paying annual increases, any failure to pay these more than three years ago, could fall outside of our time limits. But we may be able to consider a complaint about the non-payment of increases during the last three years. 

Different time limits apply if your complaint is about a decision made by the Pension Protection Fund or the Financial Assistance Scheme. See 'What are the time limits for a complaint about a decision made by the Pension Protection Fund or the Financial Assistance Scheme?' 

Category: What is the role of The Pensions Ombudsman?

Related questions

When someone asks us to look into a problem, they have often been trying to resolve it for some time. A lot of people feel very frustrated or distressed.

We have to be impartial and look into a problem without taking sides. Sometimes a decision that is fair in a legal sense may not seem fair to you personally.

We will always be open and honest with you about how and why we have made our decisions.

Please see our ‘How we investigate complaints’ factsheet for more details on our process and what this means to you.

In the first instance you should contact your employer and try to resolve the matter yourself. To find out more please see our Complaining to the party/parties at fault’ factsheet.

But, if you have already raised the matter with your employer and it remains unresolved, please complete our application and we will look into whether we can help to resolve it. 

You may also want to report the non-payment of contributions to The Pensions Regulator.  Some useful information can be found in our Workplace pensions – unpaid pension contributions’ factsheet.