The State Pension is a regular payment from the Government that is claimed when you reach your State Pension age. The State Pension is based on your National Insurance record. It takes into account the National Insurance you built up before the new State Pension was introduced in 2016, as well as contributions and credits since then. This means not everyone will receive the same amount.
Building up a pot of money to provide an income in retirement
With a defined contribution pension, you build up a pot of money that you can then use to provide an income in retirement. Unlike defined benefit schemes, which promise a specific income, the income you might get from a defined contribution scheme depends on factors including the amount you pay in, the fund’s investment performance and the choices you make at retirement.
Paying out a secure income for life which increases each year
A defined benefit pension scheme is one where the amount paid to you is set using a formula based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned, rather than the value of your investments. If you work or have worked for a large employer or in the public sector, you may have a defined benefit pension.
A personal pension is a type of defined contribution pension. You choose the provider and make arrangements for your contributions to be paid. If you haven’t got a workplace pension, getting a personal pension could be a good way of saving for retirement.
Providing greater flexibility with the investments you can choose
A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is a pension ‘wrapper’ that holds investments until you retire and start to draw a retirement income. It is a type of personal pension and works in a similar way to a standard personal pension. The main difference is that with a SIPP, you have greater flexibility with the investments you can choose.
By the time we have been working for a decade or two, it is not uncommon to have accumulated multiple pension plans. There’s no wrong time to start thinking about pension consolidation, but you might find yourself thinking about it if you’re starting a new job or nearing retirement.
One of the most important decisions you will make for your future
Under the pension freedoms rules introduced in April 2015, once you reach the age of 55, you can now take your entire pension pot as cash in one go if you wish. However, if you do this, you could end up with a large Income Tax bill and run out of money in retirement. It’s essential to obtain professional advice before you make any major decisions about how to access your pension pot.
Restrictions or charges for changing your retirement date
You might be able to delay taking your pension until a later date if your scheme or provider permits this. If you want your pension pot to remain invested after the age of 75, you’ll need to check with your pension scheme or provider that they will allow this. If not, you might need to transfer to another scheme or provider who will.
Choosing a taxable income for the rest of your life
You can normally withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pot as a one-off tax-free lump sum, then convert the rest into a taxable income for life called an ‘annuity’. There are different lifetime annuity options and features to choose from that affect how much income you would get. You can also choose to provide an income for life for a dependent or other beneficiary after you die.
Re-investing funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income
With this flexible retirement income option known as ‘flexi-access drawdown’, you can normally take up to 25% (a quarter) of your pension pot or of the amount you allocate for drawdown as a tax-free lump sum, then re-invest the rest into funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income. You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. Unlike with a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life – so you need to manage your investments carefully.