When can I retire?

Time to retire?

As you approach retirement you may start to think about when you'd like to take the money from your pension(s) or savings.

You may want to retire early or continue working into later life. However, this may come down to when you can afford to retire.

Can you afford to retire yet?

What is the normal age to retire?

Retirement is no longer a day in the diary when you stop working. Increased flexibility around employment and taking money from your pension means you could choose to retire over a period of time that suits you.

Many people think about their retirement age in line with their State Pension. For many years this used to be 60 for women and 65 for men. This is no longer the case, as the State Pension age is now 66 for women and 66 for men, and is expected to rise gradually to 68 by the late 2030's.

Retiring early

There are many reasons why you may want to retire early. You may not like your job, your health may be a factor or you simply have other things you want to do instead of working.

However, some types of pensions have important factors that you need to consider and you should check with your pension provider, employer or whoever administers your scheme for details of when you can take your pension.

Different types of pensions could have drawbacks if taken earlier.

  • Defined contribution - remember that your pension may be lower than if you left it until a later age. This means your retirement income may be smaller, as it will have to pay out over a much longer period of time.
  • Defined benefit - these types of pensions usually have more rigid retirement dates. If your pension scheme does allow you to take the benefits early, you may find your income is significantly reduced until you reach the scheme retirement age.
  • State Pension - you can't take this income any earlier than your State Pension age.

Review each of your plans and look at when the income could start

Before making the decision to retire, have you considered all your financial commitments:

  • are you still financially responsible for children?
  • will your cost of living reduce?
  • will you still have any loans or mortgages outstanding, and will these be repaid before you finally retire?

Remember if you use some of your pension to pay for any of these commitments, then there will be less to provide an income.

Working longer

For many people the idea of giving up work early isn't even a consideration. If you enjoy your job, the income it provides or want to carry on saving, you can choose to retire later.

Many pensions allow you to delay when you take your money. It could mean that it gives you a higher income when you do eventually decide the time is right.

The State Pension can also be delayed (called deferral) past your qualifying State Pension age, which will also provide a higher amount when you do take it.

Nina Bains Retirement Expert


When planning for your future, it's important to know when you can access the money in your pension pot.

Pension freedom

Pension freedom

You now have several choices when it comes to taking your pensions and retirement income.

Pension choices

Need more help?

Need more help?

The Pension Wise service is free and impartial guidance to help you understand what you can do with your pension pot.

Go to Pension Wise

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