Understanding what Pension Wise is and how to use it

If you are aged 50 or over and have pension based on how much has been paid into your pot (a defined contribution pension), you can get free guidance from Pension Wise - a new service backed by the government. This guide explains how Pension Wise works and how to prepare for your appointment.

Free, impartial guidance – backed by government

Pension Wise is a free government service that helps you understand what you can do with your pension pot money.

It offers guidance on the Pension Wise website about the options for taking your pension pot, and can help you understand the tax implications.

It also offers free guidance appointments over the telephone or face-to-face where you can talk through these options, ensuring you have the information you need to make the right decision.

Pension Wise can help you:

  • understand the right things to think about when considering your choices, such as your plans to continue working, your personal and financial circumstances, and leaving money after you die
  • understand the different options for accessing your pension pot(s), and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each
  • understand the tax implications of each choice

The service is impartial and free for you to use. However, it won’t recommend companies or tell you how to use your pension pot or invest your money.

How to get your free Pension Wise guidance

You can get Pension Wise guidance online, over the phone or face-to-face. You can visit the Pension Wise website at pensionwise.gov.uk to see what the service offers and to begin to understand your available options.

If you want to book a telephone or face to face appointment call 0300 330 1001 .

Further details about booking can be found on pensionwise.gov.uk.

Preparing for your appointment

To make the most of a Pension Wise appointment it would be helpful to have:

  • The value of your pension pot(s) and whether there are any guarantees or special features that apply to your pot. Check your pension statement or ask your scheme or provider for an up-to-date valuation. If you have more than one pension pot remember to gather information on all of your pots together.
  • If you have lost track of any pensions, contact The Pension Tracing Service which is a free government-backed service.
  • An estimate of how much State Pension you may get – get a State Pension statement from GOV.UK or call Tel: 0845 3000 168.

Before your appointment, you should think about your financial circumstances as a whole, such as your current salary or income, your likely living costs in retirement, and any relevant savings or debts. You should also start thinking about how you want to use your money in retirement; whether you just need small sums or would prefer a regular income.

The Pension Wise appointment will also discuss relevant points such as any medical or health conditions that may affect your life expectancy that may result in you getting a better income in retirement if you buy an annuity, and how any benefits you are currently receiving could be affected by how you take your pension.

Next steps

Pension Wise will provide you with next steps for each of the options available, and once you understand your options we recommend that you shop around to get the best deal before making a decision. You can also speak to a financial adviser who will help you finalise your choices and find the right retirement income products for you.

You can find FCA registered financial advisers who specialise in retirement planning in our Retirement adviser directoryopens in new window.