Making a complaint about your pension
The Pensions Ombudsman has the power to investigate and determine your complaints concerning disputes of fact or law and errors in relation to occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA). The Ombudsman has the power to give any directions necessary to resolve the complaint or dispute and can give financial compensation (redress) but this cannot exceed the actual loss of benefit under the occupational pension scheme or Personal Retirement Savings Account. The Ombudsman does not have the power to award legal costs. All decisions made by the Ombudsman are binding between the parties subject to a right of appeal by either party to the High Court.
The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 provided for the amalgamation of the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau, with effect from 1 January 2018. The new office is called the Office of Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
There are certain time limits for bringing cases to the Pensions Ombudsman:
- 6 years from the date of the act that has given rise to your complaint/dispute
- 3 years from the date that you became aware of or should have become aware of the Act
The Pensions Ombudsman has discretion to consider a complaint or dispute outside these timeframes but cannot go back further than 13 April 1996. The Pensions Ombudsman can carry out an investigation if the act or event that gave rise to the complaint or dispute took place between 13 April 1996 and 28 April 2003, even if more than 6 years have passed since the event.
There is no charge to bring a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman.
How to apply
What to do if you have a complaint
If you have a complaint or dispute, you should begin by trying to sort it out at a local level with those responsible for the management of the pension scheme or Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA).
Where the pension scheme or PRSA has an Internal Disputes Resolution (IDR) procedure, the Pensions Ombudsman cannot as a rule investigate the complaint or dispute unless and until the matter has gone through that procedure and the trustees or managers have issued their notice of decision.
Under the Pensions Act, all pension schemes and PRSAs must operate an IDR procedure. Parties are not bound by recommendations arising out of an IDR procedure.
If the matter has not been resolved to your satisfaction having gone through the IDR procedure, or if the procedure has not been completed within 3 months, you can apply to the Pensions Ombudsman to investigate your complaint.
How to make a complaint
You should check that your complaint or dispute is one that the Pensions Ombudsman can investigate and that you are eligible to complain. You should then write to the Pensions Ombudsman explaining your complaint or dispute and saying what you think the persons responsible for the management of the pension scheme should do to put matters right.
There is a standard complaints form, approved by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, that you must use. This form is available from the Office of the Pensions Ombudman or from the Pensions Authority. You can download the form here.
You should enclose all relevant documents and correspondence (copies will be sufficient), including any correspondence with your pension scheme, employer or administrator.
Complaints may be made by post. Complaints cannot be made by telephone.
Where to apply