Hogan Lovells

Key Dates

Determination dated 29 June 2018.


The Pensions Ombudsman has upheld Dr G's complaint about the decision of the manager of her late partner's self-invested personal pension (SIPP) not to award her any benefits on his death.  He directed the manager to reconsider the distribution of the lump sum death benefit and to fully document the rationale for its decision.



Dr G complained again to the Pensions Ombudsman. 

The minutes of the manager's meeting outlined factors which had been considered in making its decision, including that Dr G was within the category of "Dependant" and "Eligible Recipient"; that Dr G and Mr T had been partners for at least five years prior to his death; and that Dr G had produced evidence of joint home ownership and domestic expenditure and had made reference to joint pension planning around pension death benefits.  The minutes then stated:

"After considering the above factors, the meeting determined that there would not be a dependant's pension for Dr G, and Mr T's pension fund would be paid as a lump sum to his estate."

Ombudsman's conclusions

The Ombudsman agreed with his adjudicator's finding that, although the manager had acted within its discretion, it had not explained its reasons or rationale and there was no causative link between the circumstances and conclusion.   The manager also appeared to be led by considerations of what Mr T would wish for it to do when, having decided that Dr G was an Eligible Recipient, it should have considered whether there was reason to distribute benefits to her. 

The Ombudsman acknowledged that payment of death benefits was at the manager's discretion.  However, in this case the basis for the manager's decision was not clear and this omission was problematic.  In particular:

The manager was directed to reconsider the distribution of the death benefit lump sum and to fully document the rationale for its decision and to communicate this with Dr G.  

Date Accessed: 28/05/2022