You’re in your sixties and you’re thinking about the next phase of your life. But have you checked all your retirement plans are on track? Here is an easy check list to get you on the path to the retirement you want:
The information on this page is aimed at people who haven’t yet reached their State Pension age. If you have, then check our advice for people who have already retired.
If you qualify, you could get a State Pension from the Government once you reach your State Pension age. This is the earliest you can get your State Pension. You can quickly check your State Pension age (external website) 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. The 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 (external website).
Get an online forecast (external website) to see how much you could get from your State Pension, when you could get it, and if you could improve it.
Your State Pension and how to improve it
Your online forecast (external website) should also help you to spot any gaps in your National Insurance record. National Insurance credits are awarded automatically if you’re claiming certain benefits, like Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Carers Allowance. Other credits may be awarded to you, such as if you’re caring for a child under 12 who is related to you.
Find out more about National Insurance credits (external website), 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 (external website) about this option and whether it might be right for you.
Even when you reach your State Pension age, you’re not forced to give up work. You can delay claiming your State Pension (external website). When you do decide to retire, the amount you could get when you claim it may have increased.
How to claim
If you’re entitled to a State Pension, then you normally get a letter around two months before you reach your State Pension age. You don’t get the State Pension automatically, you’ll need to claim it (external website) – you can do that online, over the phone or by post.
It’s easy to claim online – watch the video to see what people think.
Workplace pensions and other savings
While 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. Your boss may have automatically enrolled you into one – 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 (external website) can help you find contact details from pension schemes you might have lost track of.
It’s also important to plan for retirement if you are self-employed.
Help and advice
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 (external website) online or book a free telephone 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 (external website). The Money Advice Service (external website) 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.
Want to keep working?
Staying in work means you keep earning and can keep saving too.
If you’re ready for a change of job or pace, then you have the right to ask your employer about flexible working (external website). Your employer may be happy for you to phase your retirement and change to flexible or part-time hours.
There are many people thinking about how they can stay in employment by working differently. This advice might help you if you have new caring responsibilities for example, or just want to slow things down.
If you choose to retire early, then it’s important you know how your pensions and benefits can be affected (external website).
Extra financial help
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.