This information is meant for people who are in their sixties, but haven’t yet reached their State Pension age. If you have already reached your State Pension age, then check our information for people who have retired instead.
If you qualify then you can get a State Pension from the government when you reach your State Pension age. This is the earliest you can get your State Pension. You can quickly check your State Pension age online at any time.
Your State Pension amount is based on your National Insurance contributions and your own circumstances, so not everyone will get the same amount.
A new State Pension was introduced in April 2016 to provide a simpler system for everyone, but your National Insurance history before then will also be taken into account. If you were in a ‘contracted out’ work pension in the past then as a result, you paid less into the National Insurance system and this may be reflected in the amount you get. Find out more about how your State Pension is calculated.
Get an online forecast to see how much you could get from your State Pension, when you could get it, and if you could improve it.
You will receive a letter around 4 months before your State Pension age to explain how to claim your State Pension.
Improve your State Pension
Your online forecast may also help you spot any gaps in your National Insurance record. You can get National Insurance credits automatically if you’re claiming certain benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Carers Allowance.
But some others you may need to apply for. This includes National Insurance credits if you’re caring for or have cared for a child under 12 years of age. These are called “specified adult childcare credits” but are often known as “grandparent’s credits”.
Find out more about National Insurance credits, including how to claim.
You may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill gaps in your record. This is usually done though paying Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions. Paying voluntary contributions might not be right for everyone – find out more about this option and whether it might be right for you.
You can also delay claiming your State Pension and the amount you will get when you claim it could increase.
Workplace pensions and other savings
Whilst the State Pension is a good foundation for when you retire, it’s important to know what other sources of income you’ll have.
Since you’ve been working, you’ve probably been saving into a workplace pension. It’s an easy way to save for later life as you make contributions direct from your pay. If you are not already in a workplace pension, your boss will automatically enrol you into one if you earn £10,000 a year or more and usually work in the UK – it’s the law. Unless your retirement is a few months away, there is still time for you to build up some extra savings. When you pay in, your boss and the government usually do too. You might also have other private pensions or savings.
Your employer or pension scheme provider may already send you regular updates about how much you have saved in your pension pot and what you might receive when you retire. If not, contact the provider and ask. Different pension schemes may have different rules about when they are payable, and how much you’ll get.
If you’ve had a number of jobs through your career then you may have different amounts saved in different pension schemes. The free Pensions Tracing Service can help you find contact details from pension schemes you might have lost track of.
Pension freedoms mean that you can now decide what you want to do with your defined contribution private pension(s), if you haven’t already used them to purchase a secure pension income for life. You can get free guidance from Pension Wise to help you make the right decision for you, and to stop scammers from trying to get your money.
It won’t recommend any products or tell you what to do with your money. Instead, it offers impartial guidance, including information about tax, comparing products, getting financial advice and avoiding scams.
You can access Pension Wise online or book a free telephone or face to face appointment anywhere in the UK. A free telephone appointment is also available for those living abroad.
You can get impartial advice about pensions from The Pensions Advisory Service. The Money Advice Service can help with advice about retirement planning, savings and managing your money. You can also talk to an independent financial adviser, but you’ll usually have to pay for the advice.
Staying in work means you keep earning and can keep saving too. If you are over State Pension age and under 75, you can choose to opt-in to your employer’s workplace pension scheme if you want to. Your employer will also still make contributions to your pension if you earn over £5,876 (at 2017/18 rates) and you might still get tax relief from the government.
But if you’re ready for a change of job or pace, then you have the right to ask your employer about flexible working. Your employer may be happy for you to phase your retirement and change to flexible or part-time hours.
We have more advice for people thinking about changing the way they work.
If you choose to retire early, then it’s important you know how your pensions and benefits can be affected.
If you’re in Scotland or Wales, then you may also be eligible for a free bus pass when you reach 60. In London you can also get a free transport pass when you’re 60. The date may differ if you live elsewhere in England.