A big thank you to all the readers of This is Money for the pension questions that you submit every week.
Over the last couple of years I have answered questions on everything from how state pensions are worked out and how you can access your pension pot to the rules around winter fuel payments in France and housing benefits for pensioners.
Each week I try to choose a question from the many submitted which will explain something new from the complex world of pensions, though occasionally I return to topics we have covered before if taking a new angle will be useful to readers.
I’m afraid that I can’t answer every question personally, but hopefully the full list of columns that we have already published provides a mine of answers.
Looking at the columns which have attracted the biggest readership (see the five most popular below) it is very striking that they are all about state pensions and in particular how the new state pension works.
It is clear that the Government still has a lot more work to do to make sure people understand the new system.
STEVE’S TOP FIVE MOST READ ANSWERS
Almost every week there is at least one question sent in about the impact of ‘contracting out’ on state pensions, and my answer to a common one is here.
Another regular theme is the impact on your pension of getting married, divorced or living together, and you can read a typical one here.
If I’m not able to answer your specific question, there are lots of official websites which are a good place to start.
Despite their names, neither of these organisations provides tailored financial advice but they will provide impartial factual information. Later this year all three of these guidance bodies – PensionWise, MAS and TPAS – will merge into a single body which should make matters easier.
There are two things that make writing this regular column each week particularly satisfying.
The first is that I’m always learning something new. No matter how long you have worked in pensions and even if you have helped to write some of the laws of the land on pensions, there is always a new situation you have never come across before or a new angle to consider.
I rely heavily on official websites and things like House of Commons library guides to make sure I am getting my facts straight, but I do also occasionally check things with expert colleagues at Royal London or in the wider industry to make sure I am getting answers right.
The second source of satisfaction is when you are actually able to help someone get a better outcome.
Over the course of writing the column we have come across a number of readers who are not getting what they are entitled to and we have been able to help boost their pensions or benefits.
By being willing to share your story you are also helping other readers to discover whether they too might be missing out on what is rightfully theirs.
When I’ve submitted my column it gets thoroughly checked over by the team at This is Money who are very knowledgeable and make sure I have got my facts straight and that I’m explaining things as clearly as possible.
This is very much a partnership and I look forward to getting started shortly on the first of the next one hundred columns – please keep the questions coming!
ASK STEVE WEBB A PENSION QUESTION
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.
He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.
Since leaving the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election, Steve has joined pension firm Royal London as director of policy.
If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.
Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.
If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.
Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.
If you have a question about state pension top-ups, Steve has written a guide which you can find here.