How much is the State Pension?
Full State Pension is a set amount each year.
It’s a bit like one of our jackets, it’s not one size fits all.
It’s dependent on your age, your gender and your National Insurance record.
But the easiest way to find out what yours will be is to go to gov.uk/check-state-pension
State Pensions explained
A State Pension is a regular payment you can get from the government when you reach State Pension age.
Your age, gender and National Insurance record will affect the amount you’ll get and when you will be eligible to start receiving it.
To get it, you must have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions.
Types of pension
There are three main types of pensions:
Workplace pensions are arranged through your employer.
With most schemes, both you and your employer pay in.
Your contributions will normally be deducted from your salary.
With individual pensions you pay in regularly and/or make one-off payments.
You will be entitled to a State Pension when you reach State Pension age and if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions.
The value of personal or workplace pensions are not guaranteed. You could get back less than paid in.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of two parts, Guaranteed Credit and Savings Credit, which you don’t pay tax on.
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who’ve saved some money towards their retirement. (eg. a pension).
This is up to £13.07 per week for single people, or up to £14.75 per week for couples.
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £155.60 for single people, or £237.55 for couples.
Eligibility for Savings Credit and Guaranteed Credit is dependent on your personal circumstances. Details can be found on gov.uk.
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Why it pays to start your pension early
You know the old saying, “the early bird gets the worm”?
Well, that’s very much the case when it comes to your pension.
Let’s say you started one at the age of 33 and invested a hundred-and-fifty pounds a month in it.
If your pension pot grew at 2.4% a year, after taking inflation and charges into account, you could have around a hundred-and-six-thousand pounds in it if you retired at 68.
But what if you started when you were ten years younger? If you did that, you could end up with around a hundred and fifty thousand in your pension pot.
That’s around forty-four thousand pounds extra in your retirement nest egg… yet you’ll only have paid in eighteen thousand more yourself.
Of course, this is only an example, and the actual rate of any growth can’t be guaranteed. Like most investments, the value of your pension can go down as well as up and you could get back less than invested.
The reason starting early can be such a good idea is partly thanks to the magic of ‘compounding’ – which is where any investment returns you make can themselves earn returns. Combined with the extra money you’ve paid in yourself, it can make a big difference to the amount you end up with.
And the sooner you start, the bigger the effect can be.
When you’re young, it can be hard to think about the future. But if you want to boost your chances of a better retirement, starting your pension early is a bit of a no-brainer really. Well, unless you’re a real bird brain.
Your options at 55
If you’re 55 or older and have a defined contribution pension, you have four main choices over how to access the money you’ve saved:
One - withdraw all your pension money
Two - take money whenever you need to
Three - use it to buy yourself an income for life
Or four simply leave the money where it is. You can make your choices later.
You’ve got to think about the taxman too. You can usually take 25% of your pension fund tax free. The rest will count as part of your annual income, which you’ll be taxed on at your highest rate.
As tempting as it might be to withdraw all of your pension money now, you need to think carefully about how much you’ll need to live on as it may need to last you the rest of your retirement. Once you’ve made a decision, you may have to stick with it.
But that doesn’t have to mean you take nothing from your fund. You might want to take some cash to do some home improvements, or take a holiday.
Or you might find you could save money by taking a cash lump sum to put towards paying off any debts. Remember, any money left in your pension will remain invested and the value could go down as well as up, so you may get back less than has been paid in.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s worth giving some thought to your plans for your pension fund right now.
Otherwise, when the time comes to finally put your retirement plans into action, the wheels might come off.
Trace your lost pensions
These days, people change jobs frequently. As a result, they may have pensions that they’ve forgotten about or have lost the paperwork for.
Don’t worry if this sounds like you, because you can get free help from the Government’s ‘Find Pension Contact Details’ webpage.
Just go to www.aviva.co.uk/pension-tracing (Web address moves to bottom of the screen and stay son screen through the duration of the video) and contact the Pension Tracing Service.
Their details can be found on our pension tracing page. You’ll just need to know the type of pension you’re looking for, whether it be a;
A workplace pension
A personal pension
Or a civil service, NHS, teacher or armed forces pension.
You’ll also need to know the employer’s name. The Pension Tracing Service will then give you the details you’ll need to contact your pension scheme provider.
To help your pension provider when you contact them, please have to hand your full name, home address and any other contact information, like phone number or email. It’s that simple!