When can I retire?

'Retirement' is defined as a watershed point in our lives when we choose to leave the workforce. 'When can I retire?' is a question we've probably all asked ourselves at some point in time.

However, this should really be split into two questions:

What age can I retire?

There's no hard and fast rules governing when we can or can't do this. However, most retirements are funded by a pension - and the current rules allow you to draw on your personal pension savings from age 55.

How much do I need to retire?

Just exactly when we are able to retire will always depend on if we have enough funds in place to live on. There's no doubt that the earlier you start planning the more time you'll have to build your savings and make adjustments.

You can use our retirement budget planner to help you understand your income sources and expenditure throughout retirement.

There are several ways to fund your retirement, but for many it will include the State Pension, and your own private pension provision.

1. The State Pension

The State Pension is provided by the Government and pays you a regular income in retirement.

Until fairly recently, the age that people could claim their State Pension remained constant at 65 for men and 60 for women.

But that's all changing now. As we are all living longer, the Government has decided that the State Pension age will need to change in the future. 

Who is eligible for a State Pension?

Not everyone is entitled to the UK full State Pension. Eligibility depends upon certain criteria being met.

If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you will have qualified under the old basic State Pension rules.

This means you must have worked in the UK and have made National Insurance contributions (or an equivalent) for 30 years or have paid voluntary contributions to receive the full basic State Pension.

If you reach State Pension age on, or after 6 April 2016, then you will qualify under the new State Pension rules, which means you'll usually need at least ten qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any State Pension, and 35 qualifying years to get the full new State Pension.

If you have between ten and 35 qualifying years, you'll receive a proportion of the new State Pension.

If you are unsure what this means for you, then you can get more detailed information here

When can I begin to receive a State Pension?

The exact date that you get your State Pension will depend on your date of birth. You can work out your State Pension age using the State Pension calculator.

Currently the State Pension age for men is 65.  The age at which women qualify for the state pension has already risen from 60 to 65, with the exact date depending on the month you were born.

Both men and women's state pension ages are currently in the process of increasing to 66. And between 2026 and 2028, it will rise again to 67. 

A further rise to age 68 is expected to happen between 2037 and 2039.

Of course that's not to say you have to retire at your State Pension age. You can defer your retirement and delay taking your State Pension if you wish. Read more about delaying your retirement

2. Other pensions

Aside from State Pensions you may hold benefits under other arrangements, such as a workplace or occupational pension scheme, or a personal pension. When you can take money from your pension will depend on your pension scheme’s rules, but you can normally start taking benefits from age 55.

It’s worth finding out if you have a ‘Normal’ or ‘selected’ retirement date under your scheme. This will likely be later than age 55, and if you take benefits before this date your benefits may be subject to an early retirement reduction or penalty.