The next few years see the biggest pensions revolution for a generation. And the changes start on 6 April this year, so you've just a month left to act.
Here's what to expect next month:
- Last chance to take pensions at 50, the min. age jumps to 55. Until 6 April, most private pension holders can take a tax-free lump sum and/or draw an income from age 50, after that you must be 55. Those aged 50-54 now should urgently check if it's worth taking it now (though doing this can diminish your total pension). For more, see DirectGov and speak to a pensions adviser.
- State pension £2.40/week rise. The basic state pension will automatically increase from £95.25 a week to £97.65, up by 2.5% (couple's pensions £152.30 to £156.15). However the second state pension - a top-up some get - won't rise.
- More eligible for full state pension. To get it now, men must have paid National Insurance (NI) for 44 years, women for 39 years - from 6 April this will drop for ALL new recipients to 30 years. If you're short of NI years, you can buy extra. Full info in the State Pension Boosting guide.
- More carers to get pensions. Those who look after a friend or relative for more than 20 hours a week will qualify for the new carer's credit which gives the same state pension entitlement as if you worked (you currently need to care more than 35 hours to benefit). See the Carers' credit news story.
- State pension age raised. The age when women can claim state pension starts rising gradually from 60 to 65 between next month and 2020, squaring it with men, eg, a woman who hits 60 on 6 April will get it aged 60 years 1 month. By 2046, it'll be 68 for all. See the pension age calc.
The BIG change is still to come...
From April 2012, EVERY employee will be auto-enrolled into a company pension with 1% of their salary going to it (rising to 3% by 2017) and employers forced to contribute too.
Further reading/Key links
More on pensions: Pensions guide, Free printed annuity guide