Wrong or misleading information: case 2

Ms R had the option to retire at any time between age 60 and 65. She planned her retirement so that a special salary supplement that she had received would be used in the final pay on which her pension was to be based.

Before she retired she asked for pension figures – and several times asked for, and was given, confirmation that the supplement would count.

After she retired, and when it was too late to get her job back even if she wanted to, she found out that her pension would be lower.

This was because only part of the supplement would count – some of it related to an earlier tax year which was not included in final pay.

The pension figures she had been given were wrong. Nevertheless she took her pension and a cash sum, and complained about what had happened.

The pension scheme said that the figures she was given were marked as estimates and she could not rely on them.

We said that Ms R could not have known that the pension estimates were wrong, particularly since she had asked whether the supplement counted towards her pension and had been told that it would.

Although the figures were said to be estimates they also said that they were based on pension records and the scheme’s rules. In fact they weren’t. And so we said the scheme couldn’t rely on them being described as estimates.

We established that, because of the way the supplement was paid and the way the scheme’s rules worked, if Ms R had retired a few months earlier or a few months later then her pension would have taken account of the special payment.

We decided that had she known this she would have retired later, so her pension and cash sum should be added to, taking account of the special payment.

We also directed that there should be adjustments for the money she had received early and for the fact that she would have stayed in work for a while, earning more.