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When and how do you want to retire?

You may think that retirement is simply stopping work at 65 and taking your pension. Not at all. You don’t need to stop working to take your pension.

Choose when you want to retire

The good news is that you can choose when you want to retire, and you can choose how you access your pension savings when you’ve reached your normal minimum pension age.

You no longer have to retire when your employer tells you to, or even when you start taking your State Pension. You can continue to work full-time or part-time and take cash from your pension pot. In fact, you can even continue to contribute to a pension while you’re working and top it up for years to come.

The way you plan to retire can help you decide when you can afford to retire.

Your options

Whether you decide to retire completely or to carry on working full-time or part-time, you have options.

Take a lump sum from your pension

There are different options around taking lump sums from your pension depending on the value of your savings. Usually, you’ll receive 25% tax-free and the remaining 75% will be taxed as income at the highest rate you pay.

This may be useful if you want to pay off debts, reduce your mortgage or go travelling. If you continue to work you can keep paying into a pension.

Take an income from your pension

You can turn all or part of your pension pot into a guaranteed regular income by taking out an annuity. You can take a regular income from your pension even if you’re working and receiving the State Pension. You’ll be taxed on any pension income as if it was earned income.

Defer taking your pension

If you don’t want to take an income or lump sum from your pension – for example, if you’re still working or you have income from elsewhere – you can leave your pension invested until you need it.

If you carry on working, you can still contribute to your pension, allowing your pension pot to potentially carry on growing. Depending on whether investments go up or down, this means there could be more money available when you decide to take it.

You can also defer taking your State Pension and then be eligible to claim more in the future.

More about deferring your State Pension »

Here’s how it could work…

Meet Sue…

Sue enjoys her job but wants to go part-time from the age of 65 and retire at 70. She has a pension provided by her employer that she has been saving into for many years.

She plans to take a small lump sum from her employer pension to clear her outstanding mortgage when she starts to work part-time. She defers claiming her State Pension while she’s still working, but takes a series of lump sums from her employer pension to top up her income. She continues to make payments to her pension from her income.

When she stops working at 70 she claims her State Pension and takes a regular income from the money left in her employer pension.

More about your options at retirement »

What if I die?

You can make sure your loved ones or a favourite charity receives your retirement savings if you die before you take them. To do this you need to nominate your beneficiaries.

It’s simple to do. Just log in to your Online Account and fill in the details. And if your circumstances change, you can change your beneficiaries.

Next: How much will you need to live on? »