Q. I’ve heard that the new pension reforms say I will have full access to my pension pot when I turn 55. How do I work out what I should do with my pension savings?
A. The pension reforms that came in this April give people the freedom to access their defined contribution pension and do whatever they want with it. You can buy an annuity, or take your pension out in one go, or withdraw it bit by bit and leave some of it invested. Planning for your retirement can be complicated so it’s important to get guidance on your options.
The good news is that the Government has introduced Pension Wise, a new free service offering guidance online, over the phone with The Pensions Advisory Service, or face to face with Citizens Advice. Appointments are pre-booked 45-minute sessions tailored to your individual circumstances. Guidance is impartial, meaning that it will not recommend products or services, but the person you talk to will describe your options and help you consider their impact.
To get the most out of Pension Wise guidance, preparation is important. First, work out the value of your pension pots. Look at your most recent statement or contact your provider. Check and see if there are any restrictions attached. Next, get a state pension forecast, and gather the details of any benefits you receive.
The next step is to work out your likely expenditure. Include the cost of essentials like housing or utilities, and leisure activities. This should give you a rough budget.
Bring this information to your Pension Wise appointment. Citizens Advice staff will help you think through your circumstances and present the options available to you.