The age at which an individual becomes eligible for the State Pension is the same as the retirement age in the UK. The state pension age for both men and women born after April 6 1978 is 68. However, the pension age for those born before April 6 1970 remains at 67 years and, for those born between April 6 1970 and April 5 1978, varies between 67 and one month and 68, depending on their date of birth.
So, the pension age in the UK depends on the date of birth of the individual. The historical gender difference in state pension age was only applicable until 2018, before which the state pension age for women was 60. However, beginning November 6 2018, both men and women were set to retire at the age of 65.
Changes made to the state pension age, and will it change again?
The retirement age in the UK has undergone progressive changes since April 2010. The retirement age and the amount received are regularly reviewed, at least once every five years, to ensure that the pension amount is fair and the retirement age is in accordance with life expectancy.
When the 1995 Pensions Act was passed, the pension age for women was fixed at 60. Under the 2011 Pensions Act, this was increased to 65, which then became 66 for both men and women. A further amendment raised it to 67 for people retiring between 2026 and 2028, and 68 for those retiring between 2044 and 2046, irrespective of their gender.
Life expectancy has increased over time, from 78.5 in 1948 to about 87.8 in 2017. This is why it is necessary to make amendments to the pension age to keep a check on the number of people above the State Pension age in the UK. The pension age for men and women may change again following life expectancy and other economic factors.
Can you retire before the state pension age and still claim state pension?
Until April 2011, the state pension age was synonymous with the retirement age. This means that people were largely made to retire when they reached 65 and qualified for the State Pension. This default retirement age no longer exists. As laid out in an amendment made in April 2011, you can now continue to work beyond the age of 65.
However, the State Pension age remains at 67 or 68 depending on your date of birth. So, even if you retire or continue working beyond the retirement age of 65 years, you become eligible for State Pension only at the designated State Pension age. You may, however, start receiving your private pension or workplace pension at an earlier age, depending on your scheme.
Similarly, you can take early retirement any time before the official retirement age. The State Pension Age, however, remains the same. You are not eligible to claim the State Pension unless you reach the pension age, irrespective of whether you have retired or not. Thus, the retirement age and pension age in the UK are independent of each other.
How to calculate and claim the state pension
It is important to know how you’ll receive from your pension so that you can plan your retirement. The State Pension amount can either be checked online or can be calculated using various State Pension calculators to get an estimate of how much you would get.
The government website not only gives a State Pension amount forecast but also provides information on when you will get your State Pension and how you can increase it. The service can’t be used if you have already started receiving your State Pension or if you have deferred claiming it.
The State Pension does not get processed automatically. It needs to be claimed at least two months before you reach your pension age in the UK. The process of claiming the State Pension can either be completed online, on the phone or by downloading the State Pension claim form and sending it to your local pension centre.
If you plan to continue working beyond your State Pension age, you can still claim your pension as soon as you reach the pension age in the UK. You also have the option to defer claiming your pension. Any delay in taking your State Pension can increase the amount you receive when you claim it in the future.
The retirement age in the UK has undergone several amendments and is expected to keep changing in the future. Ultimately, the retirement age and the State Pension age do not need to be the same in the UK. You can retire early and claim your pension once you hit the State Pension age, or you can continue working even after reaching your pension age.
It’s important for anyone working in the UK to be fully aware of their State Pension age and the amount they’re likely to receive so that they can plan for a comfortable retirement.