/ 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.


ekc referred to “pension” – presumably their final salary scheme pension – rather than “state pension”.


If people are given early access to their state pension, that means that the government needs to find additional money (unlikely to happen) or the pension must be decreased. It is generally accepted that those entirely dependent on state pension are already struggling. If they have to depend on a reduced pension then the situation will be dire for those people.

I think the effort should be to encourage people to cut down working hours if they can afford to. That might mean working part-time or giving up a second job. This could be encouraged by giving them early access to their non-state pension. This will mean that they have time to develop hobbies and to adapt to living on a lower income.

We have got to get more young people into jobs sooner and while I understand the reason for increasing the retirement age, it contributes to the lack of jobs for younger people.

R.A.Williams says:
2 December 2011

Germany,already operate a pension system whereby
if someone has to retire at 62 or 63 instead of 67,that person takes a cut, in pension
i.e the government pay them less,and thats from a stronger economy than Britains
so what hope have Britains got?

najib essaih says:
3 November 2012

im 60 and im not been working for years can i got earely pension i like to go back home for good ihave cronick disese i will save the govenement houssing benefit

P. Harrison says:
25 March 2013

I started work at the age of 16 and when the “why’s and wherefore’s “of paying tax and National Insurance Contributions were explained, I was told that the National Insurance Contribution went towards my pension and that if I continued to pay “full stamp”, I would get my pension at the age of 60. I paid my National Insurance all my working life, even topping it up when I was off with the children etc.,
I am now told that I can’t get this until I’m 66 – the year 2020 and I have to say I feel cheated!!
After all, if I had entered into a contract with someone who had paid me religiously over the years, and then, on a whim, decided I wasn’t going to pay them at the promised date, and that they would have to wait another 6 years, I’m sure they could have taken me to court for FRAUD.
This is totally unfair. How do I know that I’m going to live that long?? They are saying that the cause is because we are living longer. No its not !! Its because the younger generation are not leaving school/college/university until they are into their twenties before they actually get their first job, and starting to contribute into NI and tax.
I strongly disagree that people who started work 44 years ago should now have to subsidise people who decide they don’t want to work at an early age, but would rather put it off by remaining a student. The Politicians have actually said that this generation “may have to work 50 years before they can get a pension”. Well my husband started work at 15 years old and worked 50 years before he got his, so what’s new??
I think the Government should rethink their strategy on this, and look at making the re-introduction of Apprenticeships more accessible to entice more of the younger generation into the work ethic.
After all, you don’t need a Degree to become a Plumber or Electrician and other skilled labours, but you do need to be taught the skills, and as there’s obviously a shortage of skilled people surely that would be a better way round to bridging the contribution deficit that’s causing the problem in the first place.

Anne says:
28 July 2014

I have been thinking about this for the last two years. I am 56 and worked since I left school at 16. I am disabled and in chronic pain and no longer able to do the work I have done for the last 25 years as a nurse. Rightly or wrongly I don`t have a private pension and since I have mostly worked in the private sector there is no work pension.

In goverment led work pensions such as the NHS the police force or education all have room for early retirement on the grounds of ill health. I have paid more than enough National insurance contributions for a state pension which I am not allowed to have for another 10 years.

It seems to me that if all the people in my position where allowed to claim there state pension early then it would put a serious dent in the numbers having to claim benefits such as job seekers allowance or employment and support allowance and as such would not cost the government more but in fact save money.

I also see there`s a question of choice – for the able who are able to work beyond the previously default state retirement this is great. But for many people who have reached the age they where going to retire at all their working life its a blow to find that they have to struggle with the very difficult welfare system we have right now.

I think that there should be choices – and the choice should include the right to the dignified exit from the workforce for those whose life is dictated to by changes to their health.

frustrated lady says:
8 April 2015

I agree with you I left school and started work at 15 its not fair I have to work until I’m 65 I am 62 now and don’t know if I will last till end of 2018 retire us old ones and give the job to the younger ones who want to work it’s definitely not right .

a. robinson says:
29 May 2013

I am 62 in july 2013 . in 2009 I was told I had cancer in the saliva gland in my face .I was operated on and ad 6months off work. in april 2013 I was told the cancer had returned . I am waiting for an op. iam still working at the present time. can I take early retirement and still get the full pension. I have payed in 46years.

nannag says:
26 June 2014

can my husband get his graduated pension before he retires

gasketbrush says:
3 August 2014

” Students “, of whatever ethnic persuasion or age, do NOT PAY COUNCIL TAX . . . Neither do their landlords . . . The sooner this is made MORE PUBLIC, the better . . . If you are a council tax ( poll tax ) payer think about those student houses around you – Ever wondered how come the house owner ( whether ” student ” or not ) can afford to strip the property completely every year AND drive a better car than you . . . A much fairer system ( without publishing lists of either PAYERS OR NON-PAYERS of tax ) would be to send every council tax payer an ITEMISED COJNCIL TAX BILL / RECEIPT and that EVERY MONTH . . . When I pay money to anyone else, I get an itemised receipt and the same must apply to poll tax . . . Then stand back and watch the •••• hit the fan . . . He who pays the monkey(s) calls the tune . . . .

Edward Battensby says:
14 September 2014

I have worked for over 46 years now and have paid all my contributions so far. Last year I was told that I cannot now retire at sixty five, because I am living longer – according to Mr Duncan Smith – I will now have to soldier on for another six months. Five years ago I had a breakdown due to bullying in the workplace and got so low I contemplated suicide. I claimed employment and support allowance for a few weeks before being dragged in for a test by the Atos crowd. After being asked to lay down and have a knee drawn up to my chest and then being asked to pick up a pencil from the floor, I was pronounced fit for work and sent to the job centre. The guy at the job centre said that I would be hard to find a work profile for – due to my state of mind at the time. In desperation, I wrote to a company I had worked for years ago and they released my pension early – at 56. I have worked every hour in the day and night over the years and this is how I have been repaid. Forced into a job again weeks after trying to end my life and being made to look stupid by Atos. Finally being kicked again with a longer working life -again against my wishes. Thank you Britain, thank you government, boy has it been fun – NOT.


You might still be in time to make a claim of constructive dismissal against your previous employer, who would appear to be the main contributor to your misfortune.


For those of us born in the mid nineteen fifties it’s a continuously moving goalpost, not just with state pension age but the whole host of knock on local benefits which seem to be moving further away. What hasn’t changed is the attitude towards per retiree’s should they become redundant or suffer some form of mental illness. The haul to state retirement is now longer, the road is definitely windier and the supporting shoulders are much weaker. Even though the policy changes started some years ago, we’re only experiencing its effect now. We’re the early adopters/survivors/losers of such policy.

If a graduated state pension could suppliment those who don’t meet the government’s statistics on health and happiness then it would seem a more empathetic solution to hard times encountered by those in their late fifties/early sixties. What have Age Concern to say on this matter?


What you are saying is quite right but there are some balancing factors that perhaps should be taken into account. Although the retirement age is slipping further into the distance, the start of many people’s working lives has also receded and they are not always able to get forty years in before they reach 65. Admittedly, the number of contributory years for a full state pension has been progressively reduced, but to some extent that has only made the ptroblem of funding the state pension more difficult. There was a complete failure by government to prepare the population for the changes in pensionable age and there has been virtually no official encouragement to make regular supplementary private provision [people’s lack of confidence in the integrity of the insurance industry, the abysmal yields from many policies, and the lack of felxibility all conspired against this obvious route to a more secure and less dependent future]. Not that people paying mortgages through the seventies, eighties and nineties and into the 21st century had little left over for life assurance or a personal pension. The prevailing presumptions were that everyone would be a homeowner, that all properties would rise in value and produce a large equity windfall, and that as and when the owner came to retire and downsize or move to a lower value location they would, at a stroke, reduce their living costs and increase their wealth. As we know, it hasn’t panned out like that and a lot of people are now facing a very uncertain future.

Bulldog says:
10 February 2015

As not the time come for reducing retirement age not increasing it .? .By doing this it gives the youngsters a chance to get a proper job with a proper contract giving them the confidence to invest in their futures. Instead of this feckless economy we have at the moment . I for one are absolutely fed up with the government dictating their terms and conditions with my hard earned money . I want out A.S.A.P

Mary, Belfast. says:
10 September 2017

I totally agree. Is this not basically down to a matter of freedom of choice? I am a 54 year old woman who has worked since the age of 16. I won’t have a great single company pension built up – just several small ones. But I would like to think when I reach 60 or 62 I can actually decide to take my State Pension early as I will have worked for over 40 years by then!!

Diane hill says:
3 November 2017

I totally agree with you Mary I’m 63 now and have worked from the age of 15 ,but due to Ill health and the type of manual Job i did i had to give up working but have to Wait another 3 years before I can get my state pension I Should Have A Choice to take my pension early

Bulldog says:
9 April 2015

Like most of you that have left comments I left school at fifteen to start work . But in reality I started when I was about 11 I had a 4 mile paper round and I use to work on a farm evenings and weekends and at harvest time they were very long days 7am until 10pm during my school holidays . I have been in heavy engineering since leaving school I am now 59 and my body feels shattered . I feel that I should be allowed to retire when I’m 60 I would have paid in for 45 years . So I should get back at least 40 years . And I really don’t feel that I will make it to 100 .


The problem with the stae pension is you do not accumulate a pot of money from which you withdraw your pension; it is paid for out of other (working) people’s current taxes. As the average life expectancy is much greater than when the state pension was devised the tax take cannot cope. It is why it is so important to make additional private pension provisions during your working life when you can use the money to make choices as to when you take a pension.

There is inequity in allowing some public sector and services employees to take early retirement, either from choice or otherwise, with pensions funded by the taxpayer when many will have plenty of working life left (as many take other jobs).

As in both public and private sectors there will be those who are unable to carry on working through disability. The state needs to give those unfortunate people its support.


I will agree that we should target benefits at those who need them, irrespective of which sector they worked in.

What is happening in the public sector gives me less concern than what is going on in the commercial world. Don’t forget that we pay higher prices for goods and services for generous salaries and perks, and early retirement from the private sector. My neighbour, for example, retired from large company at the age of 50, with a generous retirement package and now spends the winter months abroad.

Those who carry on to retirement age or beyond often cost significantly more to employ than younger people and though it varies with individual, some older people are not as productive as they should be.

I do believe that state pensions should reflect the total contribution by individuals. I would be a loser because I retired at 60.

Munners says:
9 April 2015

Retirement age without doubt should be lowered civil servants can take early retirement why not us in the private sector ? From 60 onwards it should be an indivuals choice. The rank and file of this country are fed up with double standards.

Harry says:
5 December 2016

You are wrong that civil servants can take their state pension early.Civil servants can not claim their state pension any earlier than anyone else.You are wrong,there is no double standard..Please get your facts right before posting here.

Helen says:
24 April 2015

I am 62years old I work 24 hours a week can I retire and claim state pension and also work


If you are eligible for your state pension you can receive this and continue working. See this link: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/working-past-state-pension-age-your-options

Jean Cribb says:
15 May 2015

I too would like the opportunity to take some state pension early, enabling me to work shorter hours.
I have been paying into system for 35-40 years and am fed up of paying for too many people who choose not to work…….time some of us had some sort of reward for paying tax etc!

sue collins says:
28 May 2015

I Have worked since i was 15 in full time employment except for a few weeks when i had my son I feel cheated out of my pension now i have 6 years to go i am a chef and finding it realy hard now i think pensions should be means tested if you have paid enough in you should be able to retire at 60


Personally I think the government should reduce pension age to 55 and make all the dole scroungers with lots of kids work and suppport themselves and their families. After all we’ve worked hard for our pensions, what have the scroungers done other than have lots of babies and little else.

Harry says:
5 December 2016

Bang on right with that.

Janet says:
29 December 2015

when we pay for a private pension in addition to paying into state pension at reaching retirement age state pension is means tested and reduced because you have a private pension isn’t that just paying twice I have worked from age 15 and am now sixty and feel cheated as many others do that I now have to work till I reach 66

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.

26 April 2016

What I still think is wrong..
we were told by the careers officers when we got our NI number, we would work until we were 60.
we did laugh at that at the age of 15, back in 1972.
To now change all this, they must be breaking the promise.
Our careers officers worked for the government so its a promise broken by law??


I learnt very quickly that careers officers were not fortune tellers or future-proof. In saying “you will work until you are sixty”, did they also promise “at which point you will stop working and take a pension”? Careers officers were actually employed by the local education authority, not the government [civil service] and I think they did a good job in my day [1965]. Parliament is supreme and can override anything [they taught us that at school too].

Jackie says:
18 May 2016

I have had to take early retirement after an accident and a fracture to the lower part of my spine left me with constant neuropathic pain. I am unable to sit and walking is difficult. I have all sorts of other problems which are pelvic related and my drugs leave me feeling exhausted. In short, I am completely unable to work. I had to use my savings to pay off my mortgage and I have a very small work pension. I do receive a disability allowance but all of this and more has gone on medical expenses over the past three years. It would seem sensible and fair to me that those of us in this kind of condition are allowed access to our state pension early even if it is reduced to cover the potential extra number of years. And for those people with an in curable condition who have been given only a short period to live, it would seem fair to me that they are given their full pension based on the number of years they have paid in for the time they have left. But how do you get anyone in the right places to listen to this?

Denise Walker says:
22 May 2016

My wife has had to retire due to her medical condition, loosing a salary and a tied cottage! She was born in Dec 1954, which means she missed out on claiming her state pension at 60 and now has to wait until she is 66.
Surely the system should be made flexible enough to look at personal circumstances such as this and pay the state pension in such cases!


The state pension is not constructed in the same way as private pensions. No pot of money is built up. Your pension is paid out of revenue from tax and NI. So their is no method of accessing a fund early – no fund exists. Other benefits may be available however.

AD 247 says:
28 May 2016

I am 55 and have just seen my pension age move further away. I’ve already paid 39 years NI contributions. Retiring at 67/68 may be ok, if you have had an office job all your life, but some with physical jobs will be burnt out by then. Make it flexible I say.

thomas emmins says:
19 September 2016

hi i was born july 09-07-1957 please can anyone help me to find out if i can retire at 60 as i have just had a cancer op its all ok now i do not no what to do thanks very much yours thomas emmins

celia says:
17 October 2016

who wats to work till they are 66?

elaine says:
20 October 2016

i am 62 and have to wait till 66 im struggling at work in my cleaning job I have various ailments and pain people like me should retire now on full state pension I could end up on the sick and get more than statye pension government should look at this more clearly


Where is the extra money to come from? It will need to be taken from other places where our taxes are spent. Perhaps from those public service salary related pensions that can be much higher and drain taxes – time for more equality in pensions perhaps?

Pat says:
30 March 2017

I am 59 this year and do not get my state pension until I am 66. I have MS and I am finding that I am struggling more and more at work (and generally). I would very much like to take my state pension earlier even if it meant I took a little less. I would have done all I could to keep in work until I was 60 but I know that I will not be able to manage another 6 years past that. It may result in my having to claim ESA at some point but I would rather have gone down the retirement route.

Charlie says:
21 October 2017

The problem is that since around 2000; consecutive governments have over borrowed, wasted and given our money away. There is no money (Liam Byrne . 2010)
My bridging pension ends at age 65 but no state pension until 66 now. So far my MP has failed to tell me where almost half of my small pension will be made up. Sounds like this has not been thought out.
However, I find the notion of Waspi women divisive. State pension for all at 65 is what we should be united with!

chris says:
29 October 2017

giving us our state pension early would give the young generation achance ofwork and of the dole

Tara says:
24 January 2018

I agree,I have 40 years of working and can’t get state pension until I am 66.What makes it nonsense and annoying is the head of work and pensions has retired before this.I have been told I am fit for work but the work is limited for me as I have arthritis and sciatica.I am lucky to have savings to live on but obviously going down very fast.I think this government are hoping we die before pension age.Don’t do as I do,do as I say,don’t know how they can sleep at night.