/ 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?

Vanessa says:
15 March 2016

Not everyone is capable of working until they are 67 due to physical and mental health, this puts pressure on the employer and prevents younger people from getting a job as well as the employee.


Quite true Vanessa but HMG intends to raise the age to around 75 over several decades .A comment in the front page of one newspaper has said an influential government figure would like pensioners to get jobs as Berry PIckers presumably so they can cut the OAP saying -those OAP are getting too much money . Work until you drop Vanessa . You know if they could get away with it there would be no government OAP,s just look at the US . This is what happens in a service industry country .

Keith says:
16 March 2016

My wife had a double mastectomy due to her having the Braca 2 gene. She has also had her lymph glands and ovaries out. Her retirement age has gone up TWICE !!!
She will now be 66years and 4 months old before she qualifies for her state pension !!
IF she survives !!!
What a rotten trick to play on a loyal hard working citizen. If it was an employer doing that, they would be SUED !!!

Carole says:
16 March 2016

My husband lost his battle with cancer ten years ago aged 57 he will therefore not receive a state pension. My health collapsed & I was unable to work but had my IB removed when it became ESA because of (our retirement) savings. I am basically unemployable due to being out of the work arena for so many years but also due to my age & the shortage of jobs in my locality. My state pension age has risen from 60 to 64 1/2 & is now 65 1/2. If I draw my private pensions I will have to pay tax on them as the personal allowance is so low but I still have all the costs of running a 3 bed semi. It is hard enough trying to put your life back together after bereavement without having the stress of moving financial goal posts. I also have a 91 yr old Dad who has now for a number of years needed my increasing assistance. Retirement should be pleasurable not a distressing time.

Elaine says:
16 March 2016

Do they not realise that the longer we have to work, the less jobs there will be for the younger generation. My husband retired last year at the age of 65. I am 60 this year & was looking forward to retiring with him. Now I have to wait until I am 66 when he will be 72. It doesn’t make sense. I have more than my fair share of NI contributions just so they can keep moving the goal post


Worked since 16.
Out of pocket by £42,000 at least for the extra 6 years in respect of the state pension.
Now we discover that even at 66 wont get the full pension!
Insurance policy taken out for illness when the retirement age was 60 do not pay out later that the expected retirement age when taken out (which was 60) so again missing out.
Having to fund a retirement for another 6 years from savings or trying to find work whilst ill as no entitlement to benefits for these years.
Another £45,000 down at least plus inflation of course not factored in.
Thanks caring government!

sue says:
24 April 2016

my husband is 65 in march 2017 is he able to take his state pension earlyas his health is not great


No one has replied sue but I do not think there are any circumstances when the state pension can be taken early. It is not provided from an invested fund but out of current tax and NI contributions from others in work.


Unlike private pension or insurance plans, the state pension scheme does not limit access, or adjust premiums [NI contributions], or the benefits received, on actuarial principles of life expectancy, condition, occupation or lifestyle. It is based purely on the number of contributions made not the aggregate value of them. In consequence there is no flexibility over when one can access the benefits and take an early pension, although it is possible to defer them.