Overpayment of pension benefits
Produced in partnership with Wyn Derbyshire of gunnercooke LLP
Overpayment of pension benefits

The following Pensions guidance note Produced in partnership with Wyn Derbyshire of gunnercooke LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Overpayment of pension benefits
  • Overpayments from trustees’ viewpoint
  • Overpayments from the employer’s viewpoint
  • Overpayments from the member’s viewpoint
  • Tax consequences of overpayments
  • Limits to the Pensions Ombudsman’s powers concerning overpayments
  • Methods of recovering overpayments
  • Defences against a claim for restitution

THIS PRACTICE NOTE APPLIES TO TRUST-BASED OCCUPATIONAL PENSION SCHEMES

This Practice Note focuses on overpayments of benefits to scheme members. For information specific to overpayments of contributions by members and employers into the scheme, see Q&A: When can overpaid pension contributions be recovered from a pension scheme?

The overpayment of benefits from occupational pension schemes generally arises either as a result of:

  1. an incorrect calculation of benefits due, or

  2. incorrect information being provided to the pension scheme which is then used to form the factual basis upon which the benefit calculations are subsequently carried out

Less frequently, the trustees and administrators may be mistaken about the benefits which the scheme provides, for example where it is mistakenly believed that a benefit improvement has been granted. In such a case, a large number of scheme members may be affected.

Regardless of the cause of the error, the overpayment of benefits can cause considerable difficulties and distress for the trustees of the relevant pension scheme, its sponsoring employer and, naturally, the members concerned, each of whom will have their own views on the matter.

Overpayments from trustees’ viewpoint

Members often expect that trustees have a choice over whether or not they recover or stop an overpayment, whereas in reality the flexibility not to pursue an overpayment is fairly limited.

Trustee duty to take all