/ Money

Give us early access to our state pension

Coins in clock

I advocated a more flexible approach to retirement in this month’s Which? Money magazine. Now, the International Longevity Centre has made the same call, suggesting early access to state pension for those who want it.

The thinktank wants the government to consider a ‘graduated’ state pension, where we’re able to receive part of our pension before we retire, allowing us to reduce our working hours.

On the face of it, this goes against recent trends. The minimum age you can claim state pension is going up each year for women and will rise for both men and women, from 65 to 66, in October 2020. After that it’s due to go up again, to 67 and then 68.

The age you retire should be a matter of choice

When the government abolished the default retirement age earlier this year, the Department for Work and Pensions said this meant ‘you should be able to retire when the time is right for you’. That’s great for those who don’t want to stop at 65, but what about those who do?

Not everyone fancies carrying on in full-time employment until they are that old, or even older. Some of us might prefer to work for a few days less, to semi-retire, to cultivate a hobby or downsize in readiness for full retirement. If you can’t draw your pension until you’re 66 or 67 these prospects seem pretty remote.

I think it would be fairer to make the state pension age negotiable. You can already put off claiming state pension and get interest on the money you’ve forgone, so why can’t you start drawing from it early as well, in exchange for receiving a little less?

After all, you only need to have made 30 years of National Insurance contributions to qualify for a full state pension, so many of us might feel we’ve already paid our due by the time we reach 55 or 60.

Early access could enable semi-retirement

Interestingly, the Longevity Centre’s study found widespread support for a relaxation of the rules. In fact, in it’s survey of 1,000 adults, over half said they supported the idea of a ‘graduated’ state pension.

Not everyone who favoured early access wanted to stop work altogether however, and the report suggests that ‘gradual retirement may be an important means by which individuals are able to work up to state pension age, rather than retiring early’.

Would you like early access to your state pension in order to semi-retire? Would you be willing to take a lower pension in order to be given this choice? And is the upward trend in pension age inevitable or should we be able to say when we retire?

Sandy Middlemas says:
24 November 2011

One of the good things about pensions is people can’t get their sticky fingers on it early. There are very few who could resist taking it early and the net result older people would end up even poorer on a smaller pension. That means just more state aid to support the feckless.

John B says:
15 June 2015

I’m in the situation that I dont qualify for any social security benefits because of time overseas, however I paid into the govt pension scheme for more than 30 years, including time in the British forces, fire service and social service and finaly with Volutary service overseas……..I’m now dying from cancer and do not receive any benefits what so ever, at 56 I wont live till pensionable age, why cant I access my pension now?

Bob Killen says:
3 August 2016

I am in a similar situation John, I am 56 as well and have cancer so the odds of me making it to retirement age are slim, in this situation I think we should be able to access our pensions now so that we can enjoy what time we have left with our families, Bob


To John and Bob – The UK state retirement pension scheme works on the basis of the contribution record rather than the amount paid in and has a standard retirement age. It is not a savings scheme. It is deeply unfortunate that you might not reach retirement age but at the moment you do not have a pension to access, just a partial contribution record which will count if you do reach retirement age. I appreciate that that sounds harsh but it is the only answer to your question.


Maybe the rules should be changed to help those who have a life-limiting illness.

brat673 says:
24 November 2011

I had 2 jobs,one of which I retired at 65 which I wouldn’t have wanted to go on beyond that time. Many othes hold jobs that are too demanding to go beyond 65. Feckless I am not nor are a lot of other people. My 2nd was self employed, but to retire I had to sell the business which I did at 66 and 2 months. I can see those forced to stay to 69 are made to block the youngsters.

frances says:
25 November 2011

This is already done in the Civil Service
if you’re made redundant before retirement time.


Civil service get their pensions unfairly early. If they retire early that is fair enough but surely they should not get their pension before age 65 like the rest of the workforce. I object to having to pay for these people to get their pension early and then having to pay often for years and years towards their pension, often much longer than they worked in the first place.

Harry says:
5 December 2016

You are wrong that civil servants can take their state pension unfairly early.Civil servants can not claim their state pension any earlier than anyone else.You do not pay for these people to get their pension early.Please get your facts right before posting here.