How to take your pension

After years of saving, deciding how to take your pension can feel like a big decision. The good news is that we’re here to help.

There are several options for you to choose from when you reach retirement. If you want, you can take 25% of your pension tax-free, with the rest subject to tax. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change.

Whichever option you take at retirement, it’s important to pick the one that feels right for you.


Choices at retirement

The earliest you can usually access your pension savings is age 55 (rising to 57 from April 6, 2028). It’s worth considering if this is the right time for you to take your benefits. Generally, the longer you can leave your pension untouched, the better. There’s no maximum age to retire. So, although you can’t continue contributing into your pension over the age of 75, you can keep your pension intact as long as you like. It’s also possible to take a combination of these options.

Leave it invested

You can leave some, or all, of your pension savings invested for now.

This might be the right option for you if you’re still considering your options or have other income to rely on for the time being.

Take it as cash

You can take some, or all, of your pension savings as cash. 25% of that can be tax-free.

Depending on how much you take as cash in one go, the tax on it could be much higher than you’re used to.

Take it as regular income (Annuity)

You can take up to 25% of your savings as tax-free cash and then use some, or all, of your remaining pension savings to buy a guaranteed income for life. This is also known as an annuity.

You can choose different features and options to protect your income for your family if something happens to you.

Please note, our Ready-Made Pension doesn’t offer an annuity option, but we can help you find a provider that does.

Take it as flexible income (Drawdown)

You can take up to 25% of your savings as tax-free cash before using some, or all, of your remaining pension savings to enter into a flexible income arrangement. This is known as income drawdown.

This allows you to take the money from your pension savings as taxable income, leaving it invested until you need it.

Pensions are a long-term investment. The retirement benefits you receive from your pension plan will depend on a number of factors including the value of your plan when you decide to take your benefits, which isn’t guaranteed and can go down as well as up. The value of your plan could fall below the amount(s) paid in.

Are you on track for retirement?

Our pension calculator offers a guide to what your retirement income could look like. See how making changes to your contributions or retirement age could make a difference to your future.

Pension calculator

Help with your retirement options

If you’ve got a Ready-Made Pension with us, you can receive support from our retirement partners, Scottish Widows. They’ll provide useful checklists and information to help you decide how and when to retire.

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Scottish Widows Retirement

Ready to get started?

Opening a Ready-Made Pension

This is a long-term pension built and managed by our experts. We do all the hard work, so you don’t have to, investing your money based on your chosen retirement age. We then move your pension to a lower level of risk as you near retirement.

Ready-Made Pension

Combine your pensions

If you have any pensions that you no longer pay into, you can combine and transfer them into a Ready-Made Pension. Transfers must be at least £10,000 when opening an account. Once opened, additional transfers can be £1,000 or more.

Combine your pensions

Need some advice or guidance?

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Planning for your retirement is an important step towards your future.

You get free help and guidance through Pension Wise. If you're over 50, you'll also benefit from a free 60-minute appointment.

If you’re not sure which option is right for you, we recommend you speak with a financial adviser. They'll charge you for this service. You can visit Unbiased or Vouchedfor to find a financial adviser near you.

Alternatively, our partners Schroders Personal Wealth could also help. Fees and charges may apply.

Contact us

We’re here to answer any questions you may have about accessing your pensions. Call us on the number below and we can help you get started.

0330 123 3268