/ 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?


So we are made to work longer even though we have paid more than enough over the years to cover the pittance of your pension ,pensions in France Germany are higher than ours due to the money given by this country, and we also stop the young ones from getting jobs so we pay them dole money where’s the logic in that surely it would be better to give the young one jobs instead of encouraging them to claim benefits give them jobs encourage them to depart of society and let us old ones enjoy our hard earned retirement

We don’t pay into our own state pension. The NI contributions of those in work pay for those already drawing their pension; we have no personal pot. The problem is that when the state pension was first introduced to be drawn at 65, life expectancy was 66 for men and 71 for women. Now the expectancies are 77 and 82 so far more people are having to be paid out of the contributions of the existing workforce.

The way to retire early is to pay into a private pension. If you cannot afford that, or are not prepared to save in that way, during your working life then the only option is to work longer.

So all the normal working class people have to pay into the pension pot for 30 years to guarantee a full pension, what happens to the rest of the monies for those who do not live long enough to enjoy their retirement years, would it not be possible for the Government [who ever is in at the time] to make a one of payment to the families who are left to help with their loved one’s final journey, say £5000 to help with the funeral costs, as it is at the moment most who are on minimal wage are having to pay into some sort of funeral plan, ok if you make it up the management pole then fair play, but for those who have paid in for 30 years or more surely a one of payment to help with the cost of laying them to rest would be a fantastic gesture.

Michael – People who are in receipt of certain state benefits may be eligible for Funeral Expenses Payments. See –

The intention for the national insurance fund is that over time, and taking one year with another, it generally breaks even so any surpluses in some years are saved to compensate for any shortfalls in other years. To make a funeral grant to every citizen irrespective of need would require a considerable increase in contributions. As people live longer the fund has to meet the cost of pensions for much longer so it is supplemented by other forms of taxation. National insurance also has to cover various other forms of work-related government expenditure such as statutory sickness pay and unemployment benefit.

Mrs Christine M E Smith says:
28 April 2022

Surely if you need X years NI contributions when these are fulfilled that is when you can retire and claim state pension ? or am I making this way to simple as everyone would understand the criteria rather than all the confusing gumph we are all fed just saying

Christine — National Insurance is quite a complex subject at the individual level but overall is quite simple in its intentions.

To receive a full state retirement pension at the relevant age a minimum number of contributions have to have been paid or credited. As an insurance scheme with uniform contribution values it involves a degree of equalisation and there is no personal pot as there might be with a private pension. National Insurance also covers other benefits, such as sick pay and unemployment benefit, which continue so long as people are in work. People can retire prematurely and draw a state pension once reaching the relevant age but it will be paid at a reduced level.

NI is a basic, bedrock, scheme providing only a minimum level of pension following retirement. Occupational pension schemes. or self-invested schemes, can provide more flexibility, survivors’ benefits, and other enhancements and are recommended as a supplement to the basic NI provision.

There is no longer a compulsory retirement age. This HM government website explains in clear and simple language how to check the earliest date you can retire on a full state pension and how you can increase your benefits by working additional years —