Pensions Ombudsman  

Overpayment woes at Teachers’ Pension Scheme continue

Overpayment woes at Teachers’ Pension Scheme continue
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The Pensions Ombudsman has partially upheld two more complaints about overpayments to members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert reported in November that Edi Truell, co-founder of the Pension Superfund, and Professor Stephen Heppell, former adviser to the Department for Education, were proceeding with their own complaints against the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Heppell had been asked to repay £98,000 and had his pension reduced by £1,000 a month, while Truell’s mother was denied a pension — he estimated it should be worth around £5,000 a year — on the grounds that she could not reproduce payslips dating back to the 1950s.

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In the two most recent cases, Leicester County Council was fined £1,000 for providing incorrect salary information to the scheme, which led to Mrs R being overpaid, while Teachers’ Pensions was told to pay £3,000 to Mrs G after causing her “exceptional distress and inconvenience”.

Teachers’ Pensions’ ‘repeated failures’

The case of Mrs G arose after Teachers’ Pensions demanded that she repay more than £96,000 she had been mistakenly awarded.

Her time working in education with children with special educational needs saw her accrue pension in the NHS Pension Scheme, of which she elected to remain a member even after responsibility for this area of education was passed from health to the education sector.

Though she remained a member of the NHS scheme, the precursor to Teachers’ Pensions maintained a record of her service, which — as with other employees who had elected to remain with the NHS scheme — was deemed non-pensionable.

However, when Teachers’ Pensions updated its computer systems in February 2013, her period of non-pensionable service between 1971 and 2001 was showing as pensionable service, resulting in a benefit statement issued before her retirement that showed she had accrued 34 years and 143 days pensionable service, resulting in an annual pension of £18,697 and a lump sum worth £56,091.

Mrs G repeatedly contacted Teachers’ Pensions to explain that she thought the quoted amount had been overstated, as she was already in receipt of a pension from the NHS Pension Scheme for her work between 1971 and 2001.

She asked Teachers’ Pensions to check the accuracy of its statement, and it told her it could see no error. She contacted it again on the same matter and was told that the administrator would contact her employer, Lancashire County Council, to clarify matters.

Mrs G retired in 2013 and her pension was put into payment, but it was not until February 8 2017 that Lancashire County Council responded to Teachers’ Pensions’ investigation to say that it could not confirm any NHS Pensions contributions, since the scheme administrator would not confirm details without Mrs G’s consent.

That same day, Teachers’ Pensions wrote to Mrs G informing her that the issue had not been resolved after all. On March 16 it sent her an updated benefits statement, showing her pensionable service had gone from 34 years to four years, her annual pension had been reduced from £18,697 to £2,428.13, and the lump sum value from £56,091 to £7,284.38.