TPO upholds delayed pension payment complaint against Aviva

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) in the UK has upheld a complaint about delayed pension payments against Aviva Life and Pensions UK Limited.

As reported by our sister title, Pensions Age, 'Mr L' complained that Aviva delayed paying his pension from the scheme from July 2017 until April 2019, with the complainant stating that he felt he had not been adequately compensated for the delay.

The complainant, who had been a deferred member of the RMJM & Partners Retirement Benefits and Life Insurance Scheme and held pension benefits with Aviva, was due to receive his pension benefits from his 65th birthday in July 2017.

When contacted by Mr L in January 2017, Aviva said they had no records of his pension and would not communicate directly with him, instead providing him with the details of previous trustee, Mr T.

The schemes trustee was actually Dalriada Trustees Limited, as the employer had gone into receivership in 2012.

When Mr L contacted the previous trustee, Mr T then contacted Aviva to kickstart the pension payment process but, in October 2017, Aviva said it could not commence in making pension payments due to a lack of a Deed of Appointment.

Aviva only confirmed it was able to liaise with Dalriada in December 2018, when it stated that it had a copy of the Deed of Appointment and the scheme’s administration details were up to date.

However, the trustee complained that a new retirement illustration issued by Aviva failed to comply with an earlier commitment that Mr L would not be disadvantaged by the ongoing delays.

Disputes about whether the complainant needed to fill in new application forms and other paperwork continued from January 2019 to March of the same year, before Mr L first received pension payments in April.

However, Mr L complained that these payments did not correspond to the amounts due or to the pension he had accepted in 2017 and was unsure how they had been calculated, leading him to supply the trustee with a list of payments he had received in May 2019.

He also complained that two payments totalling £400 from Aviva for distress and inconvenience caused were not sufficient.

Mr L told Dalriada: “I personally do not regard a few hundred pounds as sufficient for what they have put me through over the past years. It started with my approach to Aviva in January 2017, when they denied knowledge of my pension fund.

“That was resolved, but then followed years of uncertainty, frustration and stress as further problems were raised, before eventually being overcome with your assistance. All of this was made worse by their ignoring me. It is not so much that problems were encountered, but the manner in which they were dealt with which I find intolerable.”

Once the complaint had been raised, the adjudicator reasoned that Aviva’s actions had amounted to maladministration and that the delays would have caused Mr L distress and inconvenience which had not been adequately recognised, though Aviva had acted correctly by paying the pension due to Mr L and including interest for late payment.

TPO said: “There is no dispute that Aviva considerably delayed the payment of Mr L’s pension. However, I note that Aviva has correctly backdated the pension payments due to Mr L to his 65th birthday and paid interest for the late payment.”

It added: “Mr L has not suffered a financial loss as he has been paid the pension due to him with interest, but I am satisfied that Mr L was caused severe distress and inconvenience by Aviva’s maladministration and lack of an apology.”

TPO instructed Aviva that it had 28 days to pay Mr L £1,000 in addition to the £400 which Aviva said that it had paid for the severe distress and inconvenience he had been caused, while Aviva was also told to provide Mr L with a correct retirement benefits schedule.

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