Putting things right: case 3

When Mrs N resigned her employer wrote to her giving details of the pension she would receive at her future retirement date (her “preserved pension”) based on her length of employment.

The letter said that any application for early payment of a preserved pension should be made to the employer’s “superannuation section”. She was also given an address for general enquiries about the scheme.

Two years later a new paying agent and scheme administrator were appointed. Over the next five years the employer merged with another employer and was then renamed. Mrs N was not informed of any of these changes.

Nine years after she left her employment Mrs N was told she had terminal cancer. She wrote to her former employer to apply for early payment of her pension on the grounds of ill health, but did not receive a reply.

Her husband was initially told by both the paying agent and scheme administrator that they had no record of Mrs N. He was referred to another official who asked for further information about her, which her husband provided.

After Mrs N died, her husband received a form to complete. An official told Mr N that his wife’s records had been located in another office.

Mr N complained that if his wife’s records had not been lost, she would have received her pension before her death and when she died the different rules applicable would have led to a higher payment.

We upheld the complaint because there was a failure to transfer Mrs N’s records correctly and maintain accurate records after that. And a statutory duty to inform her of changes in administration arrangements had not been complied with.

We directed the respondents to calculate how much would have been paid to her estate had the application been processed before she died and to pay her husband an amount that would make up the shortfall, together with interest.

We also directed each respondent to apologise separately to Mr N for the unnecessary distress caused and pay him £250.