Planning your retirement

Learn about planning for your retirement: strategies, tips and advice.


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Retirement basics

State pension age is currently 66, but as long as you’ve met your scheme vesting period (see our FAQs on pension terms and phrases) you can usually retire and take your workplace pension any time between the ages of 55 and 75. There are exceptions depending on your scheme, or if you’re retiring due to ill health. So it’s always important to check your individual scheme details.

No, they are different:

Normal pension age is the age when you can take your pension in full without any reductions. For many people this will be the same as the state pension age, although it may be earlier depending on which scheme you’re in and when you joined. For example, in the 2015 Police and Fire schemes, the normal pension age is 60.

Yes, you can retire before normal pension age, but if you do, the pension benefits you receive are likely to be reduced. Please note, you can’t take your benefits before you’re aged 55, depending on your scheme or if you’re retiring because of ill health.

Yes, the benefits you receive from your Local Government, Police or Firefighters’ pension are completely separate from any income you receive from your state pension.

Once you’ve decided on a date for your retirement, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Let your employer know that you want to retire – try to give at least three months’ notice.
  2. Your employer will then send us your completed leaver forms.
  3. We’ll then send out your retirement pack (or upload it to your online account), which includes a number of forms you need to complete.
  4. Return your completed forms (and any documents we’ve asked for) by uploading them via the Member contact form [link] on our website. Or you can send them to us by post, using the applicable address on the contact form page.
  5. Once we have all of the information we need, you will receive your lump sum (if your due one) and your pension will start on the agreed date.

For more information about the retirement process, visit our retirement page, view our pension checklist, or watch our video, Retirement: the moment, you’ve been waiting for.

This depends on how quickly we receive your completed forms and all other necessary information (including from your employer). Ideally, you should give your employer at least three months’ notice, once you have decided on your retirement date.

In most schemes, you can take up to 25 per cent of your pension’s value as a one off lump sum. Just be aware that this may reduce the annual income from your pension, so it’s always wise to get advice from a qualified financial adviser before making any decisions.

Early retirement

Typically, you can retire from the age of 55 (and sometimes earlier, depending on your scheme, or if you are retiring because of ill health). But you need to have been paying into your scheme for at least two years – or a minimum of three months for Firefighters’ Pension schemes.

Retiring early may mean that your benefits will be reduced. So, before you make any decisions, it’s worth speaking with a qualified financial adviser to see how it might impact your finances.

Once you’ve decided on a retirement date, the process is the same as retiring at a later date. For more information, see the FAQ How does the retirement process work?

Unless you are retiring as the result of redundancy or ill health, your pension benefits will usually be reduced if you take retirement before Normal Pension Age.

Delaying your pension

Yes, you can delay taking your pension right up until your 75th birthday. After this you’ll need to start taking it.

Your pension becomes payable without reductions when you reach your normal pension age (NPA), but you don’t have to take it then. You can delay taking your pension until after your NPA (known as late retirement). Your benefits will increase the longer you delay it, but you must take your pension by your 75th birthday.

Flexible retirement

If you’re part of a Local Government Pension Scheme, rather than leaving your job to go straight into retirement, your employer may allow you to take flexible retirement. This allows you to access your pension benefits, while working fewer hours or days a week, or even take a less senior role.

You can only take flexible retirement if you:

  • Are over age 55.
  • Have met the two-year vesting period (See our FAQ about this).
  • Have agreed this with your employer.

Please note, the pension benefits you’ll receive may be reduced if you take flexible retirement before your normal pension age.

If you take flexible retirement before your normal pension age, the pension benefits you receive may be reduced. It’s always worth speaking to a professional financial adviser before making any decisions.

You can reduce your working hours, or move to a less senior position, and take some or all of the pension benefits you have built up. Please be aware, you must take any benefits you have built up before 1 April 2008.

Ill health retirement

Ill health retirement is when you take your pension benefits early so you can retire because of ill health. Depending on the ill health tier you’re awarded, benefits are not reduced and, in some cases, enhanced.

The first step is to speak to your employer as ultimately it’s their decision. They will normally arrange for a medical assessment. If they are satisfied you meet the criteria, they will submit the relevant information to us and we will send you some forms to complete to claim your pension on ill health grounds.

First of all, you should speak to your employer. Once the employer has agreed your retirement, we will then send you the relevant forms to complete.

It is your employer’s decision. Your employer will usually speak to an independent medical professional to determine whether you are eligible for ill health retirement and what type.

Working after retirement

Yes, of course – there’s no rule that you must give up work altogether once you’ve retired. But it may affect your pension.

If you go back to work when you’ve retired, your pension may need to be reduced to take your new earnings into account. So, be sure to let us know as soon as possible, via the member contact form, so we can check your details.

Retiring abroad

Yes, of course. You just need to let us know so we can arrange for your pension to be paid to you.

Nothing. Your pension payments will be sent to the bank account you will be using while abroad (once you have let us know and completed the relevant forms).

You just need to let us know, so we can update your details and send you any forms to complete to make sure your pension is still paid to you.

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