It is important that:
- you have the information you need about your pension
- the information you get is accurate
- you get the information you need at the right time.
When you first join the LGPS, and when a decision is made about your pension, your employer or your pension fund must contact you.
Your employer and pension fund can make decisions on how to apply some of the LGPS rules. They must have written policies on some of these ‘discretions‘. If something goes wrong, you have the right to complain.
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What your pension fund or employer must tell you
Basic information about the Scheme
Your pension fund must provide you with basic information about the LGPS when you first join the Scheme. This includes how your benefits are worked out and how member and employer contributions are worked out. It must provide this information within:
- one month of the date your employer told the pension fund that you joined the Scheme and provided your personal and contact details, or
- two months of the date you became a member of the LGPS.
Your pension fund must also provide this information if you request it.
Decisions about the LGPS
Your employer and pension fund will make decisions about your membership of the LGPS and the benefits you are entitled to. They must let you know about those decisions as soon as possible. When your pension fund works out the amount of pension you are entitled to, they must tell you how they have calculated it.
Your employer is responsible for deciding what contribution rate you must pay. They must tell you what that rate is when you first join the LGPS and whenever the rate changes.
Your pension fund must give you an annual benefit statement every year. They must provide a statement by 31 August each year to every active and deferred member. They do not have to supply a statement to you if you are receiving your pension.
Material changes to the Scheme
Your pension fund must tell you if any material changes are made to the LGPS rules. They must do this as soon as possible after the change. This must be within three months of the date the Scheme rules changed.
Pension fund annual report
Your pension fund must prepare and publish an annual report by 1 December every year. This report details the management and financial performance of the pension fund during the year.
Funding strategy statement
Your pension fund must prepare, maintain and publish a written statement setting out its funding strategy. The statement will set out how your pension fund takes account of social and environmental considerations.
Your pension fund must prepare, maintain and publish a written statement setting out its policies on how it will communicate with members, representatives of members, prospective members and Scheme employers.
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Your employer and pension fund can decide how they will apply the Scheme when certain events happen. These are called discretions.
Your employer and pension fund must decide how to exercise discretions. They must have a written policy on how they will apply certain discretions. Your employer must have written policies on whether it will:
- allow flexible retirement
- award additional pension
- pay towards the cost of additional pension
- waive any reductions if your pension is paid early. This does not apply if you retire due to ill health, redundancy or business efficiency. If you retire for one of these reasons, your employer must meet the cost of paying your pension early.
Your employer and pension fund must act with ‘prudence and propriety’ in making their policies. They must keep those policies under review. You can ask your employer or your pension fund what their policy is in relation to a discretion.
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How to complain
Who can help you if you have a query or complaint?
If you are in any doubt about what you are entitled to in the LGPS, or you have a problem or question, Contact your pension fund. They will seek to clarify any misunderstandings or put right any errors quickly and efficiently.
If you have a query about your contribution rate, contact your employer’s HR or Payroll section. They can explain how they have decided which contribution band you are in.
If you are not satisfied with any decision made about the LGPS, or a failure to make a decision, you can complain. Your complaint will be reviewed under the Scheme’s Internal disputes resolutions procedure. There are also other regulatory bodies that may be able to help you.
Internal disputes resolution procedure
Stage 1: Write to the adjudicator of the body who made the decision that you want to complain about. You can instead write to the pension fund, who will refer your complaint to the appropriate person. You must do this within six months of the date you were notified of the decision, or the date of the act or omission that you are complaining about. The adjudicator may allow a longer period. Stage one is a formal review of the initial decision, act or omission. The adjudicator will consider your complaint and notify you of his or her decision.
Stage 2: If you are dissatisfied with the adjudicator’s decision or their failure to make a decision, you can apply to Scottish Ministers to have it reconsidered.
Contact your pension fund to find out who its adjudicator is, and the adjudicator chosen by your employer. Your pension fund can give you a leaflet with more information about the Internal disputes resolution procedure and the time limits that apply. It may also have a form that you should fill in if you want to make a complaint. You can also ask your employer for further information.
Other sources of help
MoneyHelper is the easy way to get free, independent help for your pension and money choices. MoneyHelper can help members and beneficiaries with any questions or guidance about their pension benefits. You can find out more on the MoneyHelper Pensions & Retirement website.
The Pensions Ombudsman deals with complaints about the administration or management of your pension scheme. You have the right to refer your complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman free of charge. There is no limit to the amount of money that the Pensions Ombudsman can award you. Its determinations are legally binding and enforceable in court.
You must contact the Pensions Ombudsman within three years of the event you are complaining about happening. If later, you can complain within three years of when you first ought to have known about it. There is a discretion for these time limits to be extended.
Visit the Pensions Ombudsman’s website to find contact details and to submit a complaint form online.
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