Is my pension ready yet?

There’s a lot of confusion around pensions.

That’s hardly surprising, considering how many changes governments have made in recent years.

On the one hand we’ve seen the introduction of more flexibility and choice than ever before.

On the other hand, there has been uproar about changes to the State Pension and the pushing back of when it can be received.

Add to that the warnings about scams and it’s a minefield trying to work out what’s right and wrong.

So who can you trust, and what are you really allowed to do?                                                                    

The truth and nothing but the truth

You may have noticed that the news often refers simply to “pensions”, as though there’s only one type.

That’s not true, so the oversimplification can add to the confusion.

In reality, there are different types. The main ones are:

  • The State Pension
  • Private and workplace pensions

So what’s the difference?

The State Pension is an income, paid out by the government when you reach the qualifying age. For men this is currently 65, and for women it is increasing to also be 65.
 


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​Most private and workplace pensions can be accessed once you turn 55. There are different types of these as well: most are a pot of money you can access, although some workplace schemes provide an income for the rest of your life. These may also have their own restrictions, including the age at which you can access them. You are most likely to have one of these if you work in the NHS, emergency services, education or local government.

So I can take money from my private or workplace pension before I reach 65? 

In most cases, yes. They also usually let you take up to 25% as a tax-free lump sum. With the rest, you can either leave it until you retire, use it for an income or take out lump sums as and when you need to.

If you’re under 55 then you won’t be able to take any money out yet. There are people out there who will tell you otherwise, but they are likely to be scams. To help you keep your money safe we’ve got a short page that answers the questions you may have.

Do I have to retire to access my pension? 

This depends on the type you have, although for most people the answer is no. Generally you’re allowed to access them if you are still working, although some workplace schemes may have specific rules, and in certain circumstances early access to these schemes could affect your future contributions. but generally you’re allowed to access them if you are still working. You are also allowed to continue working once you are eligible to claim the State Pension.

What can I do with the money? 

Pretty much anything you want. Many people use the tax-free cash to tackle any remaining debt or the mortgage, which will allow their income to go further. Others make home repairs or help their children, and some use it for entirely different things.

Houses, holidays, cars and more: how are people spending their tax-free cash?


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A world of choice

There was a time when pensions weren’t very flexible. That’s not the case anymore.

You could empty your fund and splash out on a Harley Davidson and a world cruise if you wanted to. You probably shouldn’t, of course, but the choice would ultimately be yours.

In reality, most people use the money in a sensible way, and perhaps the most appealing thing it can buy is more freedom for your future. What would that look like for you?

No more debt or mortgage?

Reduced hours at work and more time for the things you enjoy?

The ability to help your kids with a house deposit or wedding?

A tax-free lump sum could be life changing, and you decide what changes.

Whether you’re thinking about taking money from your pension or you aren’t sure if it’s a good idea, you’re in the right place. We’ve already helped more than 14,000 people and we’re here to help you, too.

 

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