A retiree has received a windfall of nearly £133,000 after a chance conversation with an adviser led him to a state pension pot he didn’t know existed.
According to Responsible Life, 76-year-old Peter Williams was looking to release equity from his house in an effort to boost his finances because he thought he wasn’t entitled to a state pension.
He had filled out his pension forms when he retired but, after not hearing back from the government, had assumed he was not eligible.
Because of this, Mr Williams was living off two workplace pensions worth £234 and £275 a month respectively for 11 years and stopped going to his local pub and on holidays in order to make ends meet.
When he turned to equity release, an adviser from Responsible Life, Graeme Donegani, visited him and during the discussions, realised Mr Williams had not received a penny from his state pension.
Mr Donegani and Mr Williams called the state pensions claims line and discovered he was entitled to £274 a week along with a £132,800 windfall payment for all the unclaimed years.
Mr Donegani said Mr Williams had no family and no one to help with financial matters, adding that his case was a “stark reminder” that all retirees should check their entitlements to avoid missing out.
Mr Williams said: “Words cannot describe the elation I feel. I no longer need to release equity in my property and will be able to live comfortably on my pensions.”
Martin Bamford, chartered financial planner at Informed Choice, said Mr William's case was "absolutely an example of the value of advice".
He said: "We must not assume that all clients will be aware of the state benefits or pension assets to which they are entitled. Part of the role of a financial planner is to help clients identify everything they owned and everything they are owed."
Paul Stocks, financial services director at Dobson and Hodge, said many clients often underestimated the value of a state pension and would often receive a “pleasant surprise” when the figures were obtained.
He said: “This story demonstrates not only how the public can at times be detached from their financial futures but also how there are ‘unknown unknowns’ out there.”
Managing director at Responsible Life, Steve Wilkie, agreed, adding it was no “exaggeration” the money would change Mr Williams' life.
“It just goes to show all retirees need to make sure what their entitlements are, and if you make enquiries with the tax office no news isn’t necessarily bad news, he said.
Cases such as this are also hoped to be helped by the pensions dashboard, if state pension data is included.
The dashboard will ensure people throughout the UK have easy access to key information about what pensions they have, who manages them and what they are worth.
The government confirmed in December last year it would introduce multiple pension dashboards, with the first one, developed by the Money and Pensions Service, expected to launch later this year.