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Your pension questions answered

There’s no denying pensions can be a tricky topic to get your head around, and our recent post on pensions sparked a lot of questions.

These questions ranged from how to save for your pension, to the rules around taking money from your pension pots.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. We asked some of our clued-up colleagues here at the Money Advice Service and at the Pensions Advisory Service for help in answering some of them. Take a look and see if they answer yours.

Five pension questions answered for you

Sandra: I’m wondering will I be able to take some money from my work pension that I’m already receiving?

If you are already getting a pension from your workplace scheme you can’t normally take a further lump sum. However, it’s always worth checking options.  Contact your pension provider or ex-employer – whoever is paying your pension each month. 

Nick: I have worked for different companies over the years.  How can I track down pensions I might have? Also, is it possible to transfer my state pension to a private one?

It’s estimated that there could be as many as 50 million lost pension pots by 2050 so searching to see if one is yours should be a top priority. You can trace past pensions that you might have lost track of through the government’s Pensions Tracing Service.  Our blog post on lost pensions can help.

It’s not possible to transfer your state pension to a personal pension. 

Eric:  I was in the military back in 1976 to 1982. Is my military pension safe? Since than I have been in and out of work, with long periods of unemployment. Are my contributions enough?

Firstly, yes, your military pension is safe. The best port of call to find out how much you will be entitled to will be to contact your pension provider.

It’s a good idea to get a clear idea of how much retirement income you might have from all sources so if you have any other private pensions contact the relevant pension provider(s). 

Also to see how much you will be entitled to from a State Pension contact  the Department for Work & Pensions website, or give them a call on 0345 600 4274.

Have a think about how much you might need as retirement income and then compare this to what you might have when you get all your estimates in.  Only then can you work out if you have any shortfall. 

If you need help you can contact the Pensions Advisory Service, which has a free pensions helpline.


John: You need a good disposable income to save for a pension. How is this possible on or near the minimum wage?

It can be difficult to put money aside for your retirement when you are trying to make ends meet day to day and no-one would suggest that you should use money needed for the essentials such as rent or mortgage payments or food and bills to save into a pension. 

Soon all employers will have to offer a pension scheme by law, and enrol eligible employees into it. This is called automatic enrolment.  You and your employer pay in and you also receive tax relief from the government to boost the payment further.  Payments are taken directly from your pay.

You can use our workplace pension calculator to find out how much you would pay in if you are eligible for automatic enrolment.  You can also talk your options through with the Pensions Advisory Service.

You may also be aware it is becoming compulsory for employers to provide a workplace pension and this is being phased in, starting with the largest UK employers.

If you are at least 22 years old, but under State Pension age, work in the UK and earn more than £10,000 a year (tax year 2015-16) you will be eligible.

Pauline: I have six pension pots.  Can I take 25% tax free from each pot then leave the rest until I need it? I am 57 and would love to pay off my mortgage with this money. The pots together are working worth about £225,000.00.

In theory yes, but before you do anything we would suggest you book an appointment with the free government guidance service, Pension Wise.

They can go through your options with you and give you some guidance. Afterwards you’ll get a letter with a summary of what you talked about.

We also have a guide on your retirement income options you may find useful.



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  • Tommy Docherty / 4 April 2018

    I was made redundant in 1979 from Peugeot i got the option of a cash payment and a reduced pension i was told recently by a friend not true could you verify that please

  • Tommy Docherty / 4 April 2018

    I was made redundant in 1979 from Peugeot i got the option of a cash payment and a reduced pension i was told recently by a friend not true could you verify that please

  • jayne Long / 2 April 2018

    I have a question, I work with people who have been on benefits all their lives what will be the pension they would expect to receive. would it be a standard rate ??


    Technically speaking, you need at least 10 years National Insurance contributions to get any State Pension and 35 years for the full State Pension. However, if you've been on certain benefits, you might have collected Pension Credits, which would entitle you to some State Pension in retirement.

  • Karan Scotting / 16 January 2018

    Im 52 this year 2018 , im separated and looking at sharing half my husbands pensions.

    Does he decided how these are split, ?

    When could I take them ?

    Also one as options a weekly payment or a lump sum ?

    Also I've a serps pension what is happening re this as i've seen lost of adverts re this
    I just need some advice as what to do

  • Thomas McGurk / 12 December 2017

    I am looking to take 25% lump free sum from my pension.My pension company has sent me out my retirement pack,but I am unsure what forms to fill in to receive the 25%.
    I have asked them what forms I need to return,but they have not got back to me.
    Are they obliged to tell me what forms I need to return?

  • Keith webster / 26 October 2017

    I am taking a lump sum with a reduced annual pension with a annual leaving this on top

  • Norman Salthouse / 13 October 2017

    I have two pensions from two companies I have worked for. Can one effect the other when I come to receive them.

  • steve tamkin / 6 September 2017

    My employer Vauxhall Motors is telling me that I will not get my pension at 65 unless I leave the company. Is that correct ? It seems ageist

  • Theresa / 21 July 2017

    I have checked my state pension forecast and apparently at present, i will not get the full pension. However i have 39 years of full contribituions. I am currently 56 and am a full time foster carer, with some part time work with the NHS. Does nayone know why i still have to contribute 6 more years?
    Many thanks

  • Marie / 1 July 2017

    I have been receiving a small pension from my late husbands employer, now he would have reached retirement age would I be able to have this payed in a lump sum. Thanks Marie

  • robert m. hughes / 14 March 2017

    I have been working for two years , and was told I would get a pension.My question is , starting the very first , does my pension get paid into that first week of pay on the books, when does it start, and should it show up on my pay stub or where?

  • Brian Coaker / 31 January 2017

    Hi I have a company pension lodged with a company I left 15 years ago,every year they send me a statement the latest says when I retire it will be worth £5,000 a year,I have a SIPP now, can I transfer the company pension into it and if so what sum of money would the the company transfer into my SIPP,

  • Alexander John Alley / 25 December 2016

    I am working and have a works pension plan that i pay into, in addition i already receive receive monthly payments from two separate pension plans. can i transfer the two, i get monthly paid from, to the works pension? I am aware the monthly payments would cease.

  • George Robson / 1 March 2016

    I have a Defined Benefit pension which I was a member of for 13 years, on a final pensionable salary of 108,600 from a previous job.
    Given the new Annual Allowance of 10k, for those earning over 210k per annum, am I right in assuming that I will have a tax bill even if I make no contributions anywhere else, given the fact HMRC use a multiplier of sixteen to calculate the increase in my pension year over year. If inflation is running at around 2.8% in the future, the value of my Defined Benefit pension will be increasing by over 10k, making me liable for tax. Is that correct?

  • Michael Anderson / 7 February 2016

    I receive a small company pension less than £100 per month. My understanding was that after 5th April 2016 I could cash this policy in is that correct Mike.

    ADMIN: Hi Mike. Unfortunately as the pension is already in payment it can’t now be cashed in. However, from April 2017 some individuals will be able to sell on their annuity but this is a new market which is still being consulted upon, so no firm details are available yet as to how this will work in practice. It will also depend what type of pension scheme currently pays the pension – not all schemes will allow you to sell on your annuity. If you would like to talk this through with a pension specialist contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047.

  • Maggie Abboud / 1 November 2015

    I originally planned my private pension for retiring at 50. years old. Is is true that my private pension doe not allow me to take money out till 55 years old, because government increased the age to 55 years old. Please advise when I can take out from my pot. rgrds