• I want to be prepared for the decisions I'll need to make

  • Accessing your pension

    You'll be asked to make several important decisions as you approach your selected retirement date. The decisions will have a huge bearing on your retirement so it's strongly recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified financial adviser. Once you've made your decision it's irreversible.

  • Calculator-greyBefore you consider how you want to access your pension it’s important to know where you currently stand. Things like your pension’s value, what funds you’re invested in and your selected retirement date are essential to help you plan. You can get all of this from our free online services.


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  • What you'll need to think about

    Things to think about  

    • Are you on target to receive as much income in retirement as you think you’ll need?
      • Use the Money Advice Service's budget planner to work out how much you might need in retirement.
      • Then work out whether you'll get the income you need from your pension in retirement, based on your current rate of contributions and investment choice. Take a look at some examples of how long your pension income might last in retirement.
      • If there’s a gap there’s still time to make a real difference. Visit The benefits of saving through your pension page for what can be done and how to do it.
    • Are you invested in the right funds as you approach retirement?
      • Many people consider reducing the risk of their investments as they near retirement. Find out more by visiting our Managing your investments page.

    Things you'll receive from us 

    • You'll receive your usual annual statement showing you how your pension is performing.

    Actions you'll need to take  

    If you're happy with your fund value, investment choice and the date you're taking your benefits then there's nothing for you to do.

    If you want to change your selected retirement date it can be done simply by giving us a call on 0345 129 9993.

    Time is running out to make full use of the tax advantages of adding to your pension. View the benefits of saving through your pension for details of how much you can contribute each year.

    Things to think about

    • Do you need to top up or contribute more to get the pension income you want?
    • Do you still want to take your benefits on the date specified in the letter you'll receive from us?
      • You can change your retirement date at any point and we’ll amend when we send you reminder letters. Just give us a call on 0345 129 9993.
    • Are you invested in the right funds to achieve your desired pension income and appropriate level of risk?
      • You can switch the funds you’re invested in at any time, check out our investments page
    • Do you have other pension pots that you’d benefit from combining?
      • You could transfer other pensions in to one pot, to simplify taking income once you retire. See our combining your pensions page to understand the benefits of combining your pension and for help tracking them down.

    Things you'll receive from us

    • We’ll send you a reminder letter (download sample)
    • You’ll also get your usual annual statement (this will be sent every year until you take your benefits)

    Actions you'll need to take

    • If you’re happy with your fund value, investment choice and the date you’re taking your benefits then there’s nothing for you to do.

    Things to think about

    • How do you want to take your pension savings?
    • Arranging a meeting with your financial adviser
      • It’s important to discuss your options with your financial adviser. If you don’t have a financial adviser you can find one in your area by visiting www.unbiased.co.uk.
    • Arrange a meeting with Pension Wise, a free and impartial government service providing guidance about your options.
      • You’ll receive a leaflet about this service with your wake up pack but you can visit www.pensionwise.gov.uk for more information.
    • Do you still want to take your benefits on the date specified in your letter?
      • You can change your retirement date at any point and we’ll amend when we send you reminder letters. Just give us a call on 0345 129 9993.

    Things you’ll receive from us

    • We’ll send you a wake up letter (download sample)
    • You’ll also receive a guide to your pension options – Your pension, it’s time to choose.
    • A letter from Pension Wise offering free, impartial government guidance about your options.

    Actions you’ll need to take

    • If you’re happy with your fund value, investment choice and the date you’re taking your benefits then there’s nothing you need to do, although you may want to consider speaking with your adviser or Pension Wise.

    Things to think about

    • How do you want to take your pension savings?
    • Can you get a higher pension income or more suitable product from another provider?
      • It’s important to shop around and obtain quotes from other providers and compare their offer to ours.
    • Arrange a meeting with Pension Wise, a free and impartial government service providing guidance about your options.
      • You’ll receive a leaflet about this service with your retirement pack but you can visit www.pensionwise.gov.uk for more information.
    • If you haven’t already, then it’s important to discuss your options with a financial adviser.
      • An adviser can help ensure you make the right choice. If you don’t have a financial adviser it’s not too late, you can find one in your area by visiting www.unbiased.co.uk.

    Things you’ll receive from us 

    • We’ll send you a retirement letter (download sample)
    • You’ll receive a reminder about the Pension Wise service too.

    Actions you’ll need to take

    • You’ll need to tell us how you want to take your pension savings

  • Once I’ve decided what to do with my pension, what then?

    Once you’ve told us how you want to take your pension savings, we’ll take care of the admin to ensure your money is paid to you as close to your selected retirement date as possible.

    We’ll need to to go through a series of questions with you to ensure you’re aware of the risks associated with the choice you’ve made. It’s an opportunity to change your mind or seek further guidance before we’ve paid your money to you. Once we’ve made the payment, your decision is irreversible so it’s important that you’re happy with the choice you’ve made.

  • What are the risks with each option?

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    Annuity (a guaranteed income for life)

    • Shopping around
      Did you know that the type of option you choose, and your choice of annuity provider, can affect the amount of income that you receive?

      Different annuity options are available including income that increases each year and income that can be paid to your partner or dependant, in the event of your death. There can also be a big difference between the lowest and highest income available from different annuity providers so shopping around is really important to get the best deal for you and your circumstances.
    • Irreversible decision
      Pension annuities offer a guaranteed income for life, but, are you aware that you are not normally able to make changes once it is purchased?

      If your circumstances change in the future your annuity cannot be cashed in or transferred to another provider. 
    • State of health
      Do you know that certain health issues, such as diabetes and lifestyle choices like smoking, can affect life expectancy and increase income from an annuity?

      You should fully declare any health issues or lifestyle choices so that the provider can take this into account. If you don't, you may receive less income than you otherwise could achieve. If you don't shop around you may receive a lower income than could be available to you, as you may be eligible for an enhanced annuity.
    • Joint life
      Are you aware that your pension annuity could also be used to provide an income for your spouse / civil partner or financial dependant on the event of your death?

      If you select a single life annuity, on your death the income would stop, but if you select a joint life annuity the income could continue to be paid to the person you select. Joint life annuities provide less income initially compared to a single life annuity.
    • Effects of inflation
      Have you considered that over time inflation will mean that your pension income is worth less ?

      If the annuity income you choose does not increase over time your buying power will reduce as the price of goods rises.  Annuities that increase over time are available however these will provide less income initially compared to a level annuity.
    • Tax implications
      Are you aware that any income paid from your annuity will be subject to income tax?

      Income paid by the annuity will be added to any other income you already receive and may mean you enter a higher tax band where you will pay more tax and receive less income as a result. As you are unable to change the income from an annuity, you may not be able to do anything to reduce the tax band you're in. If you are unsure about your tax position, you should seek advice. 
    Money-aub

    Taking your pension as a cash lump sum or Income drawdown

    •  Tax implications
      Do you understand the tax implications of taking money from your pension?

      After deducting any relevant tax free lump sum the rest of your payment will be taxed as income. We will calculate and deduct tax using the tax code we hold for you. If we do not hold a tax code we will apply the current emergency tax code.  The money you withdraw from your pension pot will be added to other taxable income you have and this could mean you pay a higher rate of tax. HMRC will take all of your taxable income into account and supply us with an appropriate tax code to use on future pension income you take from us.
    • Income sustainability
      Are you aware that taking a cash lump sum, or flexible Income drawdown payments, could mean your pension pot will not provide income for as long as you need it to?

      The more you take from your pension pot the less you will have remaining invested.  A smaller pension pot reduces the potential for investment growth and reduces the potential amount available to pay income for the length of your retirement. When there isn't any more money in your pot your income will cease and you will need to consider other arrangements for your retirement income.
    • Investment scams
      There are scams aimed at people who are able to access their pension funds. These scams appear genuine but are operated by criminals with the aim of taking your money. Visit our avoiding scams page to learn more about scams and how to avoid them.
    • Charges
      Are you aware that charges vary across different products and different providers, and that charges deducted will reduce the amount available to you?

      Even if you're accessing money in the same way, different product providers charge different amounts, higher charges mean your fund reduces more quickly compared to lower charges.
    • Debt
      Are you aware of the impact that owing people money could have on the pension payments you take?

      Whilst money is held in your pension pot creditors cannot have a claim on your money. If you have debts and take money from your pension, anyone that you owe money to might be entitled to some or all of the payment.
    • Means tested benefits
      Are you aware of the potential impact of taking money from your pension on means tested state benefits?

      If you receive certain state benefits these might be reduced or stopped if you take money from your pension pot. If you are unsure you should seek advice from the relevant authority.
    • Shopping around
      Products and charges vary across providers so it's really important that you shop around to find the best retirement income for you and your circumstances.
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    Small pots (pension pots under £10,000)

    • Small pot implication
      Do you understand all the implications of taking a small pot from your pension?

      You can only use the small pots option 3 times across all your pension schemes in your lifetime. Taking a small pot payment now may restrict your ability to take a small pot payment from other pension schemes in the future.