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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Making a complaint about The Pension Service

If you are unhappy with the standard of service you have received from The Pension Service you can make a complaint. Find out how to make a complaint and what to do if you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint.

Benefits and services dealt with by The Pension Service

The Pension Service is part of the Department for Work and Pensions and deals with many benefits and services, including:

  • State Pension
  • Additional State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Over 80 Pension
  • State Pension forecasts
  • occupational and personal pension tracing
  • Winter Fuel Payments

How to make a complaint

If you think a decision about your pension or benefit claim is wrong

This complaints process is different from the process you can follow if you think a decision about your pension or benefit claim is wrong. If you think a decision is wrong, then you need to make an appeal.

If you are unhappy with the service The Pension Service has provided and want to complain, you should contact your pension centre.

Contact details for the centre dealing with your claim will be at the top of any letters The Pension Service sent to you. Alternatively you can use ‘Find your pension centre’ below.

When you contact the pension centre, please explain what has happened, how this has affected you and what you want to happen to put things right.

What happens next

The Pension Service will contact you to find out more about your complaint and then try to sort things out to your satisfaction. They will usually contact you by phone so it's important to include your telephone number when you contact them. You will be provided with the name and direct contact details of the person looking into your complaint. The Pension Service will aim to deal with your complaint within 15 working days.

Your complaint will be dealt with in the best way for you. For example, if you want to be contacted in writing, instead of by phone, just let the centre know when you complain.

At each stage of the process you will be given clear guidance on what to do next.

What to do if you're unhappy with the response

If you’re not satisfied with the response, you will be asked if you want to take your complaint further. If you do want to take your complaint further, the person looking into your complaint will send it to the Chief Operating Officer. They will aim to deal with your complaint within 15 working days.

If you're unhappy with the Chief Operating Officer of The Pension Service response, you can ask the Independent Case Examiner to investigate. The response from The Pension Service will tell you how to do that. The Independent Case Examiner can help if you feel that you have not had your complaint dealt with in a satisfactory manner. See 'Other help with your complaint about service' to learn more about the Independent Case Examiner and how to contact them.

Other help with your complaint about service

If you need help when you’re dealing with the Pension Service or when you want to complain about their service, you could ask:

  • a local advice centre like a Citizens Advice Bureau 
  • your Member of Parliament (MP)

Independent Case Examiner

If you have been through The Pension Service’s complaints procedure and are still unhappy, you can contact the Independent Case Examiner. The Independent Case Examiner is independent of The Pension Service and offers a free and impartial review of a complaint. You must contact them within six months of receiving a final reply about your complaint from the Chief Operating Officer of The Pension Service.

The Independent Case Examiner can look at complaints about the standard of service provided by The Pension Service. They can’t look at matters of law (for example, they will not review benefit decisions because you can appeal against these) or government policy. If they accept your complaint, they will look at what happened and what The Pension Service did about it. If they think that The Pension Service should have done more, they will ask them to put matters right.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

You can also contact a Member of Parliament and ask them to send your complaint to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about government organisations not acting properly or fairly or providing a poor service. The Ombudsman will not normally become involved until The Pension Service and the Independent Case Examiner have had the opportunity to deal with your complaint.

If a mistake has been made

If The Pension Service has made a mistake it will act quickly to apologise, explain what went wrong and correct its mistakes.

It may also award a special payment if something it has done (or not done) has caused you to experience unfair treatment or suffer financially. For more details see the guide ‘Financial Redress for Injustice Resulting from Maladministration'.

If you think a decision about your pension or benefit is wrong

If you think a decision about your pension or benefit claim is wrong, you can ask the centre who made the decision to explain it.

You can also ask to have the decision reconsidered. If you are still unhappy, you can usually appeal against the decision.

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