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6 in 10 over 50s in the dark over their state pension

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director, Retirement Advantage
For most people, the state pension forms the bedrock of the income they will require to sustain the lifestyle they want in retirement.
Andrew Tully, pensions technical director, Retirement Advantage

New research from Retirement Advantage, the retirement specialist, reveals that the majority of people approaching retirement are in the dark over how much and when their state pension will be paid.

The firm’s survey of over 50s1 reveals that 6 in 10 (61%) have not asked for a state pension forecast. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 (20%) are not aware of what a pension forecast is. Of the 4 in 10 (39%) who have asked for a state pension forecast, two thirds said it was as expected (62%), while one third (28%) said they would need to supplement their state pension income when they retire. One in ten said they were surprised by the amount they are likely to receive.

The findings come as the Conservative Party manifesto pledges to scrap the triple lock on the state pension, which was put in place to guarantee that pensions rise by the same as average earnings, the consumer price index, or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Retirement Advantage, said: ‘These figures highlight a worrying trend among those approaching retirement. Not only are many unaware of the state pension forecast system, but many who are aware of it have not asked for a forecast of the state pension to which they will be entitled.

‘We have seen many changes introduced to the state pension system over the last 10 years, which means people need to check their forecast to see how much they will receive.

‘Not all state pensions are created equal. Under the new system, the amount received depends on how many qualifying years a person has during which they made National Insurance contributions – but people require a minimum of 10 qualifying years to receive anything at all.

‘This means the amount people are entitled to varies broadly. If we assume a 20-year retirement, a person who only has the minimum 10 qualifying years will receive £47,840, while someone with the maximum 35 years will receive £165,932.2 The fact that the range is so broad makes it especially important for people approaching retirement to use the state pension forecast system – so that their plans for retirement income aren’t scuppered by any last-minute surprises.

‘Before 2016, people could receive a State Pension based on their deceased partner’s National Insurance record. However the new State Pension works on a single life basis, providing a benefit based solely on your National Insurance record. That makes it all the more vital that people find out what they are entitled to, as well as consider if it makes sense to top-up their pension by making voluntary National Insurance contributions.

‘For most people, the state pension forms the bedrock of the income they will require to sustain the lifestyle they want in retirement.’


1. Survey conducted by Censuswide between 20.3.17 and 22.317 of 1,103 over 50 year olds who are yet to retire.

2. Retirement Advantage calculations based on new full state pension of £159.55 and NI qualifying years record.