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'I've retired but my pension has been put on hold'

Holly Thomas
The reader has a pension with Aviva, which sponsors the Premiership Rugby - PA

I have a pension with Aviva with a retirement date of July 20 2018. The pension scheme was set up years ago under a company that has now dissolved. The other three members are sadly deceased.

I told Aviva I wished to access benefits from the plan as well as take my tax-free lump sum. It emerged that the scheme had no principal trustee and the matter needed to be referred to the Pensions Regulator. I was left to rely on Aviva to process the matter speedily in order for me to start receiving my benefits.

After much chasing and unanswered letters, in February I finally learned that my annuity payments would start and be backdated but only to November, not to July. That leaves me out of pocket to the tune of around £5,000.

JB, Derbyshire

I contacted Aviva and it explained that the date that pension scheme members become entitled to their benefits is linked not only to the scheme retirement date but also to the date that documents and trustee authority are all in place.

Aviva advised you that the pension scheme did not have a trustee following the wind-up of the company on Sept 15 2017, according to Companies House records.

It says it took steps to request that the Pensions Regulator appoint you as a trustee, which took until mid-September – around 11 weeks. The Pensions Regulator states a timescale of around 12 weeks.

Aviva has acknowledged there were a few delays in processing your documents and further information to process the annuity payments such as the “option selection form” and quotations. Aviva has paid you £100 as an apology, but stands firm on its refusal to backdate your annuity payments to your retirement date.

A spokesman said: “We followed the correct process for this pension scheme given that the company had been dissolved.”

You wish there had been an earlier indication of the processes needed to activate your annuity payments. This should have been picked up at the time that the company was dissolved and a trustee appointed to ensure the scheme was ready to pay out.