It’s time to get to grips with your pension

Sep 13, 2021
Planning for retirement can be daunting. How do you know if you have enough money saved up? How do you access it when the time comes to retire?

As part of Pension Awareness Week (13-17 September), we’re reminding members who pay into the Scheme about the information and tools available to them, to help them plan for their future.

The first step is to work out your income in retirement

Look at what money you’ll have coming in when you stop work.

You can find out how much your RPS pension could be worth by logging in to your myRPS account.

There you’ll find an estimate of your benefits, as well as tools specifically designed to show how much you might have saved by the time you stop work.

  • For IWDC members it’s the retirement modeller
  • For DB members currently paying into the Scheme it’s the pension planner

Once you find out what your RPS pension could be worth, add this to any other expected sources of income. This could include:

  • Other pensions – you may have a private pension or pensions linked to previous employment. You’ll need to speak to each of the providers individually for estimates on those accounts. If you’ve lost their contact details, the Pensions Tracing Service may be able to help. It’s a free, Government-backed, service available online (gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details) and over the phone (0800 731 0193). Other companies offer a similar service but many charge a fee 
  • Savings and investments – if you have savings outside your pension, get those statements from your bank or other providers
  • Your State Pension – the amount you receive is set by the Government. You can request an estimate online at gov.uk/check-state-pension

A full state pension is worth £9,339

Currently, the full new State Pension is worth £9,339. The State Pension is a regular payment from the government most people can claim when they reach State Pension age.

Most people in the UK who work, or undertake caring responsibilities, will be eligible for a State Pension if they have worked and paid National Insurance contributions or been a carer for at least 10 years.

If they have done so for 35 years, they will receive a full state pension, currently worth around £9,339 per year. This can be drawn at that level from when a person is between 66 and 68 years of age, depending on their date of birth.

Check your State Pension forecast to find out how much money you’ll get.

Combined, these figures should give you an idea of how much money you might get when you stop work.

Now work out your costs

Use the Retirement Budgeting Calculator to work out how much you might need to cover your costs when you stop work.

The calculator allows you to estimate a wide range of expenses, and you can adjust each to a level that feels right for you. This includes:

  • Transport
  • Holidays and leisure
  • Household costs
  • Food and drink
  • Helping others
  • Clothing and personal and
  • Anything else you expect to pay for, including care costs or charity donations

It also takes into account the 'Retirement Living Standards' which set a benchmark for affording certain lifestyles as shown below.

retirement Living Standards are benchmarks for how much you might need in retirement based on a minimum, moderate or comfortable lifestyle

At the end, the calculator will give you a personal target to aim for with your income.

Compare your costs with your income and take action if needed

If you’re worried that your income in retirement, won’t cover your costs, there are a number of things you can do.

  • Consider topping up your pension pot if you’re still paying into the Scheme – think about paying more into your pension if you can. This is known as making Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs). It’s tax-free up to certain limits. You can read more in our guide to saving more with AVCs
  • Get advice – speak to an Independent Financial Adviser for guidance. Liverpool Victoria (LV) has been chosen as the official partner to give RPS members access to financial advice. LV can be contacted on 0800 023 4187.  This service is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 
  • Think about changing your retirement age – you can delay taking your pension, giving you more time to increase it. This is not a decision to be taken lightly and we suggest you speak with a Financial Adviser first.
  • Clear your debts – if possible, try to pay off any debts you owe before you retire.

Understand your options for taking your pension

Whether you’re already approaching retirement, or looking ahead to the time that you do, it’s important to understand what choices you have.

Your RPS pension

In the ‘Planning for Retirement’ section of this website, you can read about:

  • How and when you can retire
  • How you can take your benefits or Personal Retirement Account (PRA)
  • How to apply for your pension
  • Ways to check your savings are on track
  • Tips for protecting yourself from scams, and
  • Where to go for help and advice.

All you need to do is pick the section that’s right for you. 

  • For DB members it’s here
  • For IWDC members it’s here

You'll also find a video explaining your options in the video library here.  

Other pensions

You should contact the providers of any other workplace or private pensions, to see how and when you can take those pension benefits.

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

You can keep working after you reach State Pension age. A forced retirement age of 65, known as ‘Default retirement age’, no longer exists.