NETHERLANDS – The Dutch ombudsman for pensions has called for the involvement of independent experts in the handling of complaints filed by participants.

In his annual report for 2011-12, Piet Keizer noted that pension providers currently dealt with complaints in a number of different ways, as there are no legal requirements covering the issue.

At some schemes, the full board deals with complaints, while at others only a handful of board members look into complaints, typically through a special committee or an appeal body.

Last year, Keizer received 577 complaints from workers and pensioners, compared with 636 the previous year.

"Most problems involve too high expectations about benefits and are often caused by insufficient knowledge of the pension plan," he said.

The ombudsman found a lack of clarity concerning the administrative conditions for disability pensions, such as the right to a timely application.

Meanwhile, the Pensions Federation and the Association of Insurers (VvV) concluded a covenant for the coverage of disability pensions and exemption of contributions.

However, the covenant is not binding for pension funds and does not cover "old cases with a lot of individual suffering", Keizer said.

The ombudsman also pointed to "unreasonable complicating conditions", such as a pensions provider that, in case of arrears in contribution payments, was only willing to add pension rights if the participant demanded payment from his employer by registered mail within a narrow time frame.

The ombudsman also said participants in the new pensions vehicle PPI could file complaints with his independent organisation, established in 1995.