Saturday, 11 May 2019

Saturday Rant



Many years ago I worked for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. During that time I contributed to a government backed pension scheme for nearly 14 years. As I’ve recently taken early retirement I thought it would be a good idea to initiate the pension in order to bask in the guttering light of its pittance.

Problem One: Before I could receive any information about my pension it was necessary  to establish my identity to the satisfaction of the 'Authorities'. Personally, this is not a problem as I’m well aware of who I am, a few philosophical doubts aside. However, it was necessary to establish my identity to the satisfaction of the pension authorities back in the UK. I understand, identity theft is rampant and consequently unequivocal true identity establishment is of paramount importance. Helpfully, the agency directed my aim to a number of independent organisations willing to check my credentials. I picked an organisation at random and completed the online form. I submitted my details and promptly received notice that the company could not confirm my identity. This was a little frustrating as no explanation was forthcoming. Never mind. I went on to the next cited organisation and completed and submitted their online form. Again, my application was rejected. A pattern seemed to be emerging. Undaunted and being of a sanguine disposition ( I’m particularly in tune with the word’s original definition) I persevered unabated and completed a further four applications with the same ultimate result. Surely, this is the definition of madness? I can only surmise that my lack of residence in the UK is somehow connected with my ‘non-existence’. As a practising solipsist, I contemplated the implications with rising terror and dread. Perhaps I did not exist except in a mad daemon’s dream? A sort of solipsism by proxy. My head reeled in reflective speculation. After consuming ten pints of homebrew and running naked around my property I finally concluded that I did exist and that the NHS pension agency was a complicated arse hell bent on making people’s lives difficult and tragic.

Considering that it is estimated that 5 million British folk live outside the UK I suspected that this issue may have been encountered before and therefore there would be a ready solution to the dilemma. But this was not the case and the lack of further information pointing to a remedy was becoming annoying.

Problem 2: To solve the problem I needed to contact the NHS to determine an alternative route to my verification. I scoured the site for a relevant email contact but could find none. I had to settle for a contact email totally unrelated to my enquiry and politely asked if my request could be forwarded to the appropriate official. Several days later I received a reply from someone willing to help. The pension agency would write to my New Zealand address with a reference and information concerning my pension. Six weeks later I received the letter which enumerated my pension entitlement. To be fair it was more than I expected. All I needed to do was fill in a claim form.

Problem 3: I scoured the information I had been sent but nowhere could I find instructions about redeeming my rightful gelt. However, I was informed that if I had further questions I should access the suggested website. Once there I placed an enquiry on how to initiate access to my pension. My request elicited 967 documents neatly headlined ten per page. Mayhap the top item would be a portal leading to my aspiration for newly acquired riches? But the information provided was a load of cockwaffle concerning pension regulations and completely unrelated to my enquiry. Undismayed, I sent an email to my original respondent asking for a link to the relevant application form. And yea, after a three day wait I received an email promising a link to an application form. But first I just needed to confirm my identity…….  


6 comments:

  1. Expatriate pensions are a bitch. We had to have information couriered from Canada to the UK to establish our bona fides, just to find out what our entitlement is. It's a long drawn out process. Good luck. You're going to need it. As for getting your pension paid into an NZ bank account, that will take much gnashing of teeth and being polite to people who have had their manners surgically removed.

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    1. Hi Bill, I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park.The NHS website is so difficult to navigate and seems to be designed to make things difficult. Managed to get to a stage where I've completed a form which needs to be posted back to the UK- hopefully that will initiate my pension. Even so, they want my birth certificate, my wife's birth certificate and my marriage certificate together with our National Insurance numbers. Luckily we still have this information due to my hoarding proclivities. Otherwise......

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  2. The British NHS is proof (if any were needed) of the validity of the law discovered by the excellent author Jerry Pournelle; said law being known as Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

    Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:-
    In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

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  3. Hi, I gather you moved here to NZ fairly recently(?) so I don't know if you (or your partner?) qualify for NZ Super, but if so, be aware of the pitfalls of claiming a UK pension here (i.e. they may take all of it!)
    See:
    http://www.nzpensionprotest.com/Home
    and
    http://nzpensionabuse.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/index.html

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    1. Thanks for the info Ross. I will check it out.

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