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Before you make a complaint - Use the Internal Disputes Resolution (IDR) Procedure in all schemes.

When you have a complaint or dispute, you must (in the majority of cases) first try to sort it out with those responsible for the management of the pension scheme or PRSA.

Under the Pensions Act, all pension schemes and PRSAs must operate an IDR (Internal Disputes Resolution) procedure. The Pensions Ombudsman cannot as a rule investigate a complaint or dispute unless and until the matter has gone through that procedure and the trustees or managers have issued their Notice of Determination.

The IDR system requires you to give details of your complaint or dispute to the “Relevant Person”. In private sector pension scheme, this means the scheme trustees. In most of the Public Sector, this may mean an appeal to a Government Minister or Ministers. (If you are a member of the Local Government Superannuation Scheme (LGSS) please click here for IDR procedures in relation to that scheme). In the case of PRSA, please approach the PRSA provider.

Within three months of receiving all necessary information from you, the “Relevant Person” must issue a Notice of Determination.That states what has been decided in relation to the complaint or dispute, and what is relied upon in coming to that decision. Complainants are not bound by recommendations arising out of an IDR procedure. The Notice will therefore give the address of this Office and will point out that you are not bound by the Determination, but can take your complaint onwards to the Pensions Ombudsman.

If, for any reason, you do not have access to an IDR procedure, you should contact the Pensions Ombudsman's Office for advice before submitting a complaint. Certain pension schemes, such as those already in winding-up when the Pensions Ombudsman's Office was established, may not be required to provide for an additional internal disputes resolution procedure. In addition, those people who submitted disputes or complaints to the Pensions Board before the Pensions Ombudsman's appointment may not be required to submit to any further procedures. If you think this applies to you, please contact the Pensions Ombudsman's Office for further information.

Sometimes, the Pensions Ombudsman may be able to bypass the IDR procedure. He is allowed to do this (except in Public Authority Schemes)* if he believes that the IDR process is not appropriate in the particular circumstances of the complaint or dispute, and that it is reasonable that it should be investigated.

If the IDR process is not completed within the time-limit specified in the Pensions Act, it may be “deemed exhausted” – ie., the Pensions Ombudsman may proceed to investigate anyway – at the end of three months, or any later date which the Ombudsman may decide.

*A Public Authority Scheme is one which is governed by statute, or funded from Public moneys, in which there is provision for an appeal to a Minister or Ministers. This includes most of the broader Public Service, though there are some exceptions, notably the Local Government Superannuation Scheme and the scheme for An Garda Síochána. If in doubt, check with your Superannuation Section.  A note prepared by he Department of Finance about Public Service Pension Appeals is available at: