Pensions - Articles - State pension rises but retirees receive less than expected


More than a fifth (22%) of retirees entered retirement unaware of how much they would receive from the state pension. A quarter (26%) don’t know how to calculate their state pension payments. Standard Life outlines ‘need-to know’ state pension information as research highlights widespread knowledge gaps.

 The state pension recently rose by an inflation-busting 8.5%, to £11,502.40 a year for post-2016 retirees. However, one in seven (14%) retirees are receiving less money from the state pension than expected, new research from Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, finds. It highlights the need for information around the payments people can expect to receive from the government later in life to be made more accessible.
 
 Over a fifth (22%) of retirees also said they entered retirement unaware of how much they’d receive from the state pension, while a quarter (26%) didn’t know how to calculate their entitlement. One in ten (10%) retirees also said they didn’t realise that their national insurance contributions determine the level of state pension paid in retirement. Another 10% of retirees said that it wasn’t easy to find out how much state pension they’d receive in later life.
 
 Pre-retirement knowledge gap
 Additional polling from Phoenix Group shows wide knowledge gaps exist among those in the key pre-retirement age group. Over a fifth (22%) of over 55s who are not yet retired do not know their state pension age and just three in ten (29%) of this age group know how much the state pension is worth.
 
 Phoenix Group’s longevity think tank, Phoenix Insights, recently carried out a year-long study working with the public to understand views and expectations of the state pension. It found understanding of the state pension system is poor across all ages, with participants struggling to explain basic aspects of how the system works.

 The study revealed that knowledge gaps have led to a number of misconceptions, the most prominent being that each person’s National Insurance contributions are kept in a personal pot to be accessed when they reach state pension age, when in reality is funded on a pay-as-you-go system by current taxpayers. This was a strongly held belief that impacted people’s views about the fairness of the system.

 Dean Butler, Managing Director for Retail at Standard Life comments: “The state pension remains a hot topic, with pensioners recently enjoying an 8.5% increase to their payments under the triple lock. While a welcome boost for millions, concerns have been raised about its sustainability for future generations. With this level of debate and some complex rules and terminology, it’s understandable that a significant proportion of UK adults lack knowledge around specific state pension details such as the value of their entitlements, and when they’ll qualify for payment. However, the state pension is a significant part of most people’s retirement income and it’s clear that greater prominence and more accessible information is needed so people feel confident and can plan for their financial future.”
 
 Patrick Thomson, Head of Research Analysis and Policy at Phoenix Insights, adds: “Knowing how much you’ll get from the State Pension, and when, is a vital part of retirement planning, with many relying on these payments to form the foundation of their retirement income. It’s concerning that a significant proportion of the population lack understanding in this area, particularly for those fast-approaching retirement age.
 
 “We need to close this knowledge gap so people know what support they will receive from the state alongside any additional retirement savings, such as a workplace pension. Having this full picture will allow people to plan ahead and start to close savings gaps.”

 Dean Butler outlines the need-to-know information about the state pension:
 
 What is the state pension? “The state pension is an amount paid to you every four weeks by the government once you reach state pension age. However, not everyone can get the full state pension and it might not be enough to live on by itself, therefore it’s important to know what yours might be, when you can claim it, and how it will stack up with your other retirement savings.
 
 What’s the current state pension amount and how does National Insurance influence it? “The current full state pension amount is £221.20 a week for the 2024/2025 tax year, £11,502.40 for the year, an increase of 8.5% from the previous tax year. It’s worth keeping in mind that the amount you’ll get depends on your National Insurance record and how many qualifying years you have. You’ll usually need at least ten qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any state pension. You’ll need 35 qualifying years to get the new full state pension if you don’t have a National Insurance record before 6 April 2016.
 
 “In some circumstances it’s possible to top up your National Insurance record, and your state pension forecast will highlight when this is an option.
 
 “If you’ve reached state pension age and you’re on a low income, it’s worth checking if you’re eligible for pension credit. This tax year, (2024-25), pension credit usually tops up your weekly income to £218.15 if you’re single or your joint weekly income to £332.95 if you have a partner.”
 
 When can I get the state pension? “UK adults can currently receive the state pension from the age of 66, but this is set to rise to 67 by 2028 and again to 68 between 2037 and 2039.
 
 “You can use the Government’s calculator to check when you'll reach state pension age. If you don’t want to take your state pension immediately, you can also choose to defer it. This means you could get larger payments when you do start claiming it, which might suit you depending on your circumstances.
 
 How do I claim my state pension? “You won’t get your new state pension automatically - you must claim it. You should get a letter no later than two months before you reach state pension age, outlining what you need to do.
 
 “If you’ve not received an invitation letter, but you’re within three months of reaching your state pension age, you can still make a claim, and the quickest way to do this is online.

 To complete your claim, you’ll need the following details:
 • the date of your most recent marriage, civil partnership or divorce
 • the dates of any time spent living or working abroad
 • your bank or building society details
 • the invitation code from the letter about getting your state pension
 
 When will the state pension be paid to me? “After you’ve made a claim you will get a letter about your payments, which will usually be paid every four weeks into an account of your choice, and you’re paid in arrears. The payment day depends on your National Insurance number, although you might be paid earlier if your normal payment day falls on a bank holiday.”

 

 Will the state pension be enough to fund my retirement? “The reality is there’s a significant gap between what you get from the state pension and what you may actually need or want in retirement. The state pension alone falls short of even a minimum standard of living in retirement according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) and because it only starts in your late 60s, won’t help to support you if you want to retire earlier. It should therefore only form part of your overall retirement plan, and so it’s important to fully understand how much you might need to save into your personal or workplace pension plan to potentially be able to afford the retirement you want. To give you some idea of this, try using a pension calculator which can help you see if you’re on track.”
  

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