Bob worked for the Post Office for the whole period from 2012/13 until his retirement in July 2012. He had some old records of his pay and a friend in the Post Office wages department looked up the rest. His earnings were always below the upper earnings limit so he used his actual earnings to work out his surplus.
When he added up the surpluses and divided by £18,160, he found that his pension came out to £269.99 a week, just about what the DWP offered him.
Mary was a secretary/administrator on an average sort of wage for a woman. She was made redundant in 2012/13 and took some time to get another job. She did not pay enough contributions to have any surplus in that year, so she put down zero as the surplus for that year. But her final pension was fairly typical for an average-paid woman. Being a meticulous sort of person, Mary had all her records.
Matthew was a manager with an office equipment company. He was paid above the upper earnings limit until his firm went bust in 20011/12.
He took a few weeks to get another job and the pay was lower. So for that year and for the next two years he earned less than the upper earnings limit. However, after that, promotion and increments ensured his earnings were above the upper earnings limit for the last four years before retirement.
Matthew had filled in a tax return every year, so he could look up his earnings from his own tax file.
If you have not kept records of your earnings (your employer should give you a form called a P60 every year setting them out for that year), there are three sources from which you can try to obtain them.
First, your employer may well hold records and be willing to give you the figures. However, many employers do not keep records for more than seven years and if they have gone out of business there may be problems even with more recent information. And, of course, they do not have to help if they decide it is too much trouble.
Second, your tax office should have the information. However, if you have changed jobs, they may have to contact other tax offices for the older material. It would help . . . ... see: Retirement Finances - What You Earned