State pension - how much will you receive - and when ?

What is the state pension age in the UK: when can you retire and what will you get?

Updated: 
Czech News 26/07/2013

The state pension used to be something we all understood: women retired at 60 and men at 65, and we could all count down the days to a comfortableretirement. However, since 1995 all certainty has been lost.

The state pension age was raised and raised again, and then the speed at which it was set to rise changed and changed again.

Meanwhile, the rules regarding how much we will receive in retirement have altered too. It's no wonder so many people have no idea where they stand.

Are you eligible for pension credit?

How much?

The good news is that while plenty of pension issues have got more complex in recent years, the matter of how much state pension you will receive has got more straightforward.

If you reach state pension age after 6 April 2016 you will receive the flat rate state pension. The level will be set in Autumn 2015, but will be more than the standard amount of pension credit guarantee - so it will be worth at least £148.40 a week.

To qualify for this, you need at least 35 years of National Insurance contributions or credits. If you have between 10 and 34 years you'll receive a proportion of the flat rate instead. If you have fewer than 10 years, you'll receive nothing.

There are some complications. Anyone who is already building up National Insurance contributions will have a 'starting amount' of the amount they would have received under the current system (including basic and additional pension) or the amount they would be entitled to if the flat rate pension had been in place throughout their working life - whichever is higher.

Those who have been 'contracted out' will have an amount deducted to reflect the sums they received for contracting out.

Calculate oyour pension income options

When?

This question is even more complicated. The process of increasing the state pension age started in 1995 with pressure from Europe to make the state pension age the same for women and men - to avoid discrimination. The government at the time laid out the longest possible transition - so the state pension age for women would rise from 60-65 between 2010 and 2020.

In 2007, the Labour Government decided to take the opportunity to introduce further rises. Again it made sure that these changes were nice and far in the future - rising to 66 between 2024 and 2026, then to 67 between 2034 and 2036, and finally to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

Faster rise to 66

When the first changes kicked in on 6 April 2010, rises were still set to this timetable. Women born on 6 April 1950 or later saw their retirement delayed.

Rises to 67 and 68

Just when people might have thought they knew where they stood, there was a general election in May 2010, and when the coalition came to power they decided to raise the pension age for women more quickly - so it would reach 65 by November 2018 (two years earlier than anyone expected). They would then be able to raise the pension age for men and women to 66 by October 2020.

No sooner was this done than the government started a consultation on speeding up the rises to age 67 and 68. By the end of 2011, changes were proposed, so that the rise to age 67 would happen between 2026 and 2028 and the rise to 68 would take place between 2034 and 2036.

Further rises

In December 2013, the government announced that future changes should be based on the idea that people should spend around a third of their adult life receiving the state pension, so as longevity increases, the state pension age will continue to rise. It said that this could mean an increase to 69 in the late 2040s - although no specific date for this change has been included in the legislation.

Instead, the government will review the state pension age every 5 years - with the first review planned to take place in 2017. This is likely to mean that by the 2060s, the state pension age will hit 70.

Where do you stand?

The consequence of all this means that your retirement age from this point on will depend entirely on when you were born. The government has a calculator on its website, but as a rough rule of thumb if you were born in 1960 you should retire when you are 66 (although it'll be some way through your 67th year). If you were born in 1970 you'll retire at 67, and if you were born in 1980 you'll retire at 68. This calculator hasn't yet factored in the effects of the link to longevity after this, so younger people might find it a bit misleading.

Plus, of course, the one thing we know from all of this is that when a state pension age is set in stone, there's still every chance that a policy change could destroy that particular piece of stone and establish a new state pension age. It's almost as if the policymakers have decided that without them constantly moving the goalposts we'd find planning for retirement far too easy.


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