Preparing your finances for retirement

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Get help with Pension Wise

Pension Wise is a free and impartial service from MoneyHelper to help you understand what your pension options are.

You can find out more about Pension Wise on the MoneyHelper website.

When you can start getting your pension

State pension

You can claim state pension when you reach state pension age. Check when you'll reach state pension age with GOV.UK's state pension calculator.

You might be able to put off claiming your state pension if you want to carry on working after state pension age - this is called 'deferring' your state pension. You can still retire if you defer, or carry on working and take your pension too. GOV.UK has more information about deferring your state pension.

Workplace and personal pensions

The earliest you can start getting a workplace or personal pension is usually when you’re 55 - you should check this with your pension provider. You might be able to get your pension sooner if you’re retiring due to ill health.

Checklist of things to do when you near retirement

It's a good idea to start planning when you're nearing retirement age. Here's a checklist of things to do so that you'll be ready:

  • work out what money you’ll have coming in and think about how your spending might change once you’re retired - a budgeting tool can help with drawing up a budget

  • if you get benefits, let the benefit provider know when you’ll retire - you might have to claim a different benefit or the amount you get might change

  • check whether you're entitled to any new benefits - you might be able to get benefits like Carer's Allowance, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction

  • work out how much is left to pay on your mortgage (if you have one) - you might want to pay off what's left with a lump sum, but you should get financial advice first

  • get an estimate of your state pension - the GOV.UK state pension calculator can help you with this

  • track down any pension providers that you’ve lost contact with - the Pension Tracing Service can help with this. Call them on 0845 6002 537 oruse their online form to find a lost pension

  • get in touch with all your pension providers and let them know you’re planning for retirement - they'll usually send you important information about your pension

  • get financial advice or help from Pension Wise if you have a personal pension so that you know your options for how to take your pension - you might have to pay for financial advice but it can save you money in the long term

  • consider leaving your pension pot to someone when you die - there’ll be tax implications for doing this, so you should talk to your pension provider or an independent financial adviser

Pension scams

Pension scams have become more common since April 2015, when new rules allowed people to take some or all of their pension pot as a lump sum. These scams are fake investments designed to con you out of your money. They are often extremely convincing and anyone can be caught out.

You can find out about pension scams on the MoneyHelper website.

Get help with Pension Wise

Pension Wise is a free and impartial service from MoneyHelper to help you understand what your pension options are.

You can find out more about Pension Wise on the MoneyHelper website.

Booking an appointment with a pensions guidance specialist

You can book a free appointment with a pensions guidance specialist who will talk through your pension options with you. Appointments will be either over the phone or face to face with specialists from MoneyHelper or Citizens Advice.

An appointment will be relevant to you if you:

  • have a defined contribution pension pot

  • are aged 50 or over

Book a Pension Wise appointment on the MoneyHelper website, or call 030 0330 1001 between 8am and 10pm, Monday to Sunday. You can also book an appointment by visiting your nearest Citizens Advice.

Other help with pensions

GOV.UK has information about the state pension and workplace and personal pensions - for England Wales and Scotland.

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