It’s Pension Awareness Week! Did you know? Many veterans who served in the British military often don’t know about or claim their ‘preserved pensions.’
The good news is that for many, the preserved pension is claimable if they have qualifying service and it can be claimed when a veteran reaches a particular age. The bad news is that the MOD doesn’t remind veterans of this fact, and puts the onus on the veterans themselves to apply for it.
In 2019, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimated that over 1.6 million pension pots (worth over £19.4 billion) are ‘lost’ and unfortunately, scheme providers have no way of tracing which individuals have not claimed theirs.
At Veterans Outreach Support, we help veterans from the British Armed Forces and Merchant Navy (along with their spouses, partners and carers) – and our welfare office can offer support, guidance and signposting to help with pensions. If you’re one of our service users, we want to make sure that your ‘preserved pension’ is not among the many pensions that go unclaimed here in the UK.
Contact us to learn more, or keep reading for more info about veteran preserved pension access.
What is a Preserved Pension?
A preserved pension is a pension that’s earned through time in qualifying service and can be claimed once a veteran reaches a certain age (which differs by scheme, but is often 60 or 65). Once you reach the age stated by the pension scheme rules, you can gain access to your preserved pension for the rest of your life to use as you see fit. You must submit an application to claim a preserved pension. Until it is claimed by yourself, it is held securely for you and the value increases annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
As a general rule across most of the Pension Schemes, veterans can claim preserved pensions if they served in the Regular Armed Forces (Army, Royal Navy, or RAF) for a minimum of 5 years- but there are several differences to the Pension Schemes depending on when you served and when you signed off.
It can be quite complicated to figure out which Pension Scheme applies to you. All the Armed Forces Pension Schemes (AFPS 1975, 2005 and 2015) have different rules and resources for preserved pensions. If you think you may qualify, it’s important that you apply!
Here is a quick breakdown of the three Armed Forces’ Pension Schemes, what they are, and what age they can be claimed:
If you would like to research more details about the Armed Forces Pension Scheme criteria yourself, you can visit the Veterans Gateway.
Do I Qualify for a Preserved Pension?
According to the Forces Pension Society, Any member of the Armed Forces who left service after 1 April 1975 and who served over five years might be entitled to a preserved pension.
There are a select few who, however, meet the above criteria, but will not have any preserved pension benefits.
These are people who joined on non-pensionable terms (like gratuity-earning short service commissions), volunteer reserve members, personnel who opted out of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, and those who transferred their benefits into another occupational pension scheme.
A very important thing to remember here is that this pension can be claimed by ALL veterans of qualifying service, including any LGBT+ veterans who served in the above time frames. Many LGBT+ veterans were banned from receiving military pensions previously, which has been officially recognised as “an appalling failure of the British State” since the recent publication of Lord Etherton’s Independent Review.
If you are an LGBT+ veteran seeking pension application support (or any other sort of mental health, wellbeing or welfare support) we would be happy to help you. Contact us, stop by a Drop-In, or read more about how we aim to support the LGBT+ community with our Welcome Home Initiative.
How Can I Claim Mine?
To claim your preserved pension, it’s best to submit an application three to six months before it is due to start (which is essentially the birthday when you turn the particular age specified by your Pension Scheme). This is done by completing an AFPS Form 8 and submitting it to Veterans UK in Glasgow. If you miss the date, it is still sometimes possible to receive a backdated preserved pension.
Unclaimed pensions are a long-standing issue and VOS would like every veteran with a pension entitlement to receive it! If you need help filing the forms in to claim yours or have any questions about the preserved pension, please do contact the office on 02392 731 767, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to help.
If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner, spouse, or carer to one, VOS would love for you to join our community. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email email@example.com.