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When Can You Access Your Pension?

When Can You Access Your Pension?

Pension Strategies for Retirement

Planning for your retirement is a journey toward the post-work lifestyle you’ve always envisioned, whether that includes global travel or immersing yourself in new hobbies and interests. Central to this journey is your pension— a critical element in realising the retirement you aspire to.

 

Understanding the options available for accessing your pension savings is important in effective retirement planning. There is now a good deal of flexibility regarding when and how you withdraw money from your pension pot. In this article, we explore these options in order to help you make informed decisions.

 

At Harpur Wealth Management, located in Bedford, our team has been assisting clients in retirement planning for over a decade. We specialise in providing personalised guidance and advice, tailored to the retirement goals of each individual. In the following sections, we explore the timelines for accessing your pension and outline strategies to use your savings for generating an annual income.

Types of Pension Plan

Understanding the two primary types of pension plans — defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) — helps when navigating your retirement options.

1. Defined Contribution (DC) Plans:

 

  • Overview. DC plans are very commonly used. They encompass both personal and most workplace pension schemes.
  • Contributions. In a DC plan, both you and your employer typically contribute, often with the added benefit of tax relief on your payments.
  • Investment. The funds accumulated in a DC plan are invested, and the eventual amount you receive depends on the total contributions and the performance of your investments.

2. Defined Benefit (DB) Plans:

 

  • Access. Unlike DC plans, DB plans can only be accessed through an employer; individuals cannot establish them independently.
  • Final Salary Plans. Some DB plans, notably ‘final salary’ plans, calculate the pension payout based on your salary at the time of retirement or when leaving the pension scheme.
  • Considerations. If you plan to adjust your working hours before retirement, it’s advisable to consult with your employer or scheme trustees to understand how such changes may impact your DB plan.

Distinguishing between these pension types is essential, as it can significantly influence how you access and utilise your pension savings.

Can I Draw Down Money From My Pension?

Can I Draw Down Money From My Pension?

 

The ability to withdraw funds from your pension is a key consideration in your retirement planning. Here’s what you need to know:

 

1. Withdrawal Age:

 

  • You can typically begin withdrawing money from your personal or workplace pension plan from the age of 55 while still working.
  • The government confirmed that this withdrawal age will increase to 57 from 2028, with the possibility of further changes in the future.

2. Tax-Free Allowance:

 

  • Generally, you can withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pension pot tax-free. For instance, if your pension is valued at £100,000, you can take £25,000 tax-free.

3. Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS):

 

  • A UFPLS is a method to access a defined contribution pension pot.
  • It becomes available when you reach pension freedom age, currently at 55 (rising to 57 from 2028).
  • You can choose this method as long as you haven’t accessed the pot in other ways, such as setting up a drawdown scheme, purchasing an annuity, or taking only the tax-free lump sum of 25%. If you opt for the lump sum payment, 25% is payable tax free whilst the rest is taxable, so this option is not straight forward.

Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the available options for accessing funds from your pension is pivotal in creating an informed retirement strategy. When you opt to withdraw money from your defined contribution (DC) pension pot as income, it’s important to recognise that this action will diminish the overall size of your fund.

 

The rate at which you withdraw funds, especially if it exceeds the growth realised through your investments, directly impacts the value of your remaining fund. Careful consideration of these dynamics will ensure the sustainability and longevity of your retirement assets.

Using Your Pension Pot to Create an Annuity

Using Your Pension Pot to Create an Annuity

As you consider your retirement strategy, exploring the option of securing a guaranteed income through an annuity (as an alternative to drawdown) is a consideration. Recent trends, particularly rising interest rates, have improved the appeal of annuities over the past year.

Annuities Explained

  • An annuity is an insurance product that guarantees a regular income, typically for life, in exchange for your pension pot or a portion of it.
  • Various types of annuities are available, to align with individual circumstances and objectives.

Tailored Options

  • Multiple options, such as increasing payments in line with inflation, are available with annuities, providing plenty of choice, but these need to be considered carefully. 
  • Additionally, you can choose to provide a reduced income to a surviving spouse or civil partner in the event of your death. These choices, however, may result in a lower starting income.
  • ‘Fixed term’ annuities provide a guaranteed income for a specified number of years, with the option to receive money back at the term’s conclusion.

Impact of Interest Rates

  • The recent surge in interest rates, despite posing challenges for mortgage holders and borrowers, has become a benefit for those considering annuities.
  • Higher interest rates can translate into more favourable quotes for annuity rates, potentially making this a financially advantageous time for those approaching retirement.

Potential Financial Gains

  • With rates higher than those seen in much of the past decade, individuals opting for an annuity in the current financial landscape may stand to gain hundreds or even thousands of pounds more annually compared to those who made the same decision at the beginning of 2022.

Considering an annuity as a means of creating a reliable income stream from your pension pot involves weighing various factors.  Understanding these dynamics is crucial as you navigate the complexities of retirement planning.

 

Seeking professional advice and obtaining quotes tailored to your circumstances can further enhance your ability to make informed decisions about creating a sustainable income in your retirement years.

Working With a Retirement Planning Advisor

Navigating retirement options can be daunting, but there’s no need to face these decisions alone. A Harpur Wealth advisor can offer expert guidance and valuable insights into the key factors when evaluating your retirement benefits.

 

Our comprehensive retirement planning advice includes:

 

  1. An in-depth assessment of your retirement requirements.
  2. A thorough audit of your current pension savings and investments.
  3. The formulation of a strategic plan tailored to achieve your envisioned retirement lifestyle.

Your advisor will consider your existing financial arrangements, ensuring that they are optimised to yield the best possible returns for you. By working closely with an experienced professional, you can navigate the complexities of retirement planning with confidence, knowing that your unique circumstances and aspirations are at the forefront of the strategic considerations.

 

At Harpur Wealth, understanding the plans our clients have for their retirement is a fundamental aspect of our approach. The better we understand your retirement lifestyle needs, the more precise and effective our strategies become in realising them.

Would you like to have a conversation with one of our local financial advisors regarding your retirement planning? Contact our friendly team at Harpur Wealth Management today to schedule a FREE consultation at 01234 924620.

Disclaimer

This article is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice. We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.

 

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested.

 

‘The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation advice’

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