You can normally take your benefits at any time after age 55 which is the current minimum retirement age. This will increase to 57 from 6 April 2028. You may be able to take benefits before then if you are in a special occupation or are in ill health:
You can take benefits before the normal minimum pension age if you suffer from permanent physical or mental impairment. The benefit options available are the same as those available to people over 55.
Early Retirement due to Serious ill health
If your life expectancy is less than 12 months, you may have the additional option of taking the whole of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum. You can find more information on the HMRC website.
However, just because the law allows this doesn't mean that all pension schemes will pay benefits early to those in ill-health. For example, the scheme rules may not allow retirement on ill-health grounds before the normal minimum pension age or they may have stricter rules for determining ill-health criteria. Some schemes may not have a drawdown option and may only allow lump sum and regular income.
You can find out more about early retirement and whether you qualify on the gov.uk website or you can contact us.
The amount of money you're going to need in retirement depends on the type of lifestyle you want.We've created a retirement tool to help you understand how much money you might need to achieve the lifestyle you want.
If you save money into a pension plan, it’s worth knowing if your savings are on track to help you afford your ideal lifestyle after you stop working. Our pension calculator can help you get an idea of how much pension money you could have.
When you retire is up to you – you might have a date already in mind or you might want to phase things around the State Pension age and wind down your career more gradually. If you have a pension plan with Standard Life, you will be contacted about the options available to you at retirement. Do remember that your pension plan may not be your only source of income in retirement. Whether or not you have a pension with Standard Life, we can help you understand how to maximise your retirement benefits including ensuring you don’t pay more tax than you need to.
5 years before
When approaching retirement you should have a deeper look into your pension plan as you still have time to make some changes if necessary. Here is what we recommend you do in order to help ensure you're on top of everything:
1. Start by looking at your pension plan value with our online servicing
2. Use our pension calculator to see the projected value of your plan
3. Have a look through our Retirement section which has handy tips and guides
4. Our financial advice page may help
10 weeks before
If you are a Standard Life customer, you will receive a letter advising you that your retirement date is approaching.
In this letter we detail the different options available to you. You can choose to leave your money invested which could give it the potential to grow. Upon retirement, you can normally take up to 25% out, tax-free. For example, if your fund is worth £60,000 you can take out £15,000 as a lump sum. You have the option to access your pension savings flexibly (also known as drawdown) through one-off or multiple lump sums and regular withdrawals. Or you can take out a guaranteed income (also known as an annuity) to provide you with an income for the rest of your life. With both flexible and guaranteed income, the payments you receive will be taxed as earned income. You can also choose a mix of these options to find a combination that's right for you.
Our Retirement section or Retirement Guide (3MB) will provide you with more information on your retirement options. It's important to remember that your pension plan is invested and as with any investment the value of your pension plan can go down as well as up and may be worth less than what was paid in. If you choose the option of a guaranteed income, you should shop around different providers in order to find the deal that's right for you. You can find a guide on shopping around on the Moneyhelper website. Laws and tax rules may change in the future. Your own circumstances and where you live in the UK also have an impact on tax treatment.
Yes you can, just contact us with the details and we'll go through your options and the way these affect the tax you pay on your annuity.
No, you are unable to take out a new annuity if you have already moved abroad.
No, you have the right to shop around and buy your annuity from any annuity provider as you may get a better rate. Our guaranteed income (annuity) page gives you more details.
Yes, when you take out your annuity you have a legal right to cancel your contract within 30 days if you change your mind. The 30 day period starts from the date you receive the annuity terms and conditions. If you had a Standard Life pension plan, bought an annuity from us, and you now want to cancel or still have some questions, please contact us.
Once the 30 days have passed you won't be able to cancel the annuity or change any of the options you've chosen.
It's important to consider each of the options when you buy an annuity. Once it's set up you can't make changes to it, cash it in or transfer it to another provider.
Yes, you can do so by logging into our online services. If you haven't registered yet, click on the 'Register for online servicing' button.
Once logged in, click on 'Your details', 'Plan information' and then edit your 'Plan retirement date'.
Yes, under the current pension rules you can withdraw flexible amounts from your pension plan from age 55 (57 from 6 April 2028). You can take this out as one or more lump sums or you can set up a flexible income, known as drawdown. Not all of our pension types offer the option to withdraw flexible amounts from your pension plan. For more information, our retirement options page will help you understand your options.
Alternatively, you can find other ways to contact us to learn more
You may be able to access your pension savings before 55 if you have a protected pension age or are in poor health and can no longer work for medical reasons.
If you’re having financial difficulty and are looking for ways to supplement your income, then it could be a good idea to look at your other savings or methods first. Your pension savings need to last you throughout retirement and the earlier you start taking them, the earlier they could run out.
Here are some useful resources to help you if you’re struggling with managing your money:
If you’re accessing your pension money for the first time, it normally takes around 10 working days for the money to reach your account. We can often do this quicker if you’ve already taken some money from your pension savings. Or if you set up regular payments you can choose a date you’d like to receive your pension money every month, quarter or year.
If you need money urgently to pay a bill, let us know we’ll look at ways to speed things up. You might also consider speaking to friends or family, or your bank to see if there’s anything they can do to help you while we complete your request.
You can take one or more cash lump sums, set up a flexible income (drawdown) or buy a guaranteed income for life (annuity). When and how you take your money can make a big difference to how much tax you might pay and how long your money will last.
It’s important to note that if you receive government benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit, you might lose eligibility if you take an income from your pension plan. You might find these resources helpful:
Yes. Our pension experts won’t be able to give financial advice but can help you understand all your options at retirement. There are different ways to get in touch at the bottom of this page.
Depending on your circumstances, we may need to take a closer look at your lifestyle and suggest you speak to external experts in certain areas, such as debt management or healthcare before you make any important decisions. This is all part of us fully understanding your situation so we can give you all the support you need to get the best possible outcome.