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How to make the most of your Pension Wise appointment

2 April 2015

How to make the most of your Pension Wise appointment

Pension reforms coming in on 6 April mean that people approaching retirement have more choices about how to use their pension pots. For the first time, people will have the freedom to decide whether they buy an annuity, take a lump sum, or a mixture or both.

Pension Wise guidance, delivered face to face by Citizens Advice, on the phone by The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and online by the Government, will help people to make sense of their pensions choices. The 45 minute appointments will be tailored to the individual, taking into account the value of their pension and their plans for retirement.

Citizens Advice is highlighting how to get the most out of a Pension Wise appointment. Preparation is key, with people knowing enough about their pension so that they can spend the appointment discussing their circumstances and options.

People approaching retirement should be aware of scams. Concerns about scams can be discussed separately with any Citizens Advice Bureau, with the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline and it will be included in your Pension Wise appointment.

Citizens Advice has put together a guide on how to prepare for a face to face Pension Wise appointment.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

   “Pension Wise will help people to make sense of their pensions choices. To make the most of a Pension Wise     appointment, preparation is key – the more a trained guidance specialist knows about someone, the more they can tailor     guidance to their needs. We know that getting together the right information can take a while.

   “People are also worried that having access to their pension pot means they might be targeted by scammers. Citizens     Advice already provides advice and support on scams. You can contact us to find out what to look out for or to report a     possible scam.”

How to prepare for your appointment

Step one: what’s your pension pot worth?

The first thing you will need to know is the value of your pension. Here’s how you can find out:

  • Pension statement – you should get a statement through the post every year, detailing the value of your pension.
  • Pension provider website – some providers allow you to log in and view your statement online.
  • ‘Wake up pack’ – your provider will send this out 4-6 months before your selected retirement age.
  • Get in touch – if you haven’t got any documentation, give your provider a call.
  • Trail gone cold? If you don’t have any information at all about your pension, visit

Step two: Find out if there are any terms and conditions attached to your pension.

Some pensions will have special conditions attached, such as penalties for drawing your pension earlier than planned.

  • Check your original paperwork for any terms and conditions.
  • Or contact your pension provider for information.

Step three: find out how much state pension you’ll receive

State pensions vary from person to person, and depend on things like how many years you have been in employment. From April 2015, the most you will get will be £115.95 per week. Calculate your state pension by visiting:

Step four: think about your circumstances

Some people enter retirement without any pressures, while others may be paying off debts or supporting their children financially. You may also have other income to consider, such as benefits. Think about any immediate financial needs, and any future needs you anticipate, such as care costs.

Step five: How do you want to spend your retirement?

Many people look forward to a change in lifestyle at retirement. It’s important that you consider the costs of any essentials, such as housing, energy and food, along with leisure time and one-off costs like home improvements. This should help you come up with a realistic sense of your expenditure, and what income you need.

Step six: Bring just the relevant information with you

Pension Wise appointments last 45 minutes so you don’t want to spend that time searching through 30 years of statements. Bring just what’s relevant, for example your most recent statement, giving you more time to discuss your options and next steps.

How to get help from Pension Wise:

People approaching retirement with a defined contribution pension pot will be able to get help from Pension Wise:

  • Online by visiting the Government’s Pension Wise website
  • By telephone by calling 030 0330 1001
  • By contacting any Citizens Advice Bureau

Appointments for face to face guidance can be made via any Citizens Advice Bureau.

Watch out for scams:

  • A Pension Wise appointment will help you understand how to protect yourself from scams and report them if you see them.
  • If you have concerns about being the victim of a scam, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
  • You can report a scam to Action Fraud via or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.