Taking your pension before 55

You usually can’t take money from your pension pot before you’re 55 but there are some rare cases when you can, eg if you’re seriously ill.

In this case you may be able take your pot early even if you have a ‘selected retirement age’ (an age you agreed with your pension provider to retire).

You may also have the right under a pension scheme you joined before 6 April 2006 to take your pension before you’re 55. Ask your pension provider if you have a ‘protected pension age’.

If someone contacts you unexpectedly and says they can help you access your pot before the age of 55 it’s likely to be a pension scam. You could lose your money and face a tax charge of up to 55% of the amount taken out or transferred plus further charges from your provider.

If you’re ill

You may be able to take your pot before you’re 55 if you can’t work because you’re too ill.

Speak to your provider about the rules of your pension – it’ll depend on their definition of ‘ill health’.

If you’re seriously ill

You may be able to take your whole pot tax free if both of the following apply to you:

  • you’re expected to live for less than a year
  • your pots are worth less than the lifetime allowance of £1 million

Read more about your pension when you die.

If you have debt

If you’re thinking about using money from your pot to pay off debts you should get advice first. You have to think carefully about the money you’ll need in retirement.

You’ll have to pay tax on any cash sum you take from your pot. You may not have enough left after tax to cover your debts.

For free and impartial debt advice go to:

The State Pension

The earliest you can get your State Pension is when you reach your State Pension age. If you retire before this age you’ll have to wait to claim your State Pension.