The State Pension Age
You can check your exact SPA by visiting the Government’s State Pension Calculator
For many years the State Pension Age (SPA) remained static – since 1926 it has been 65 for men and 60 for women. However, the Government has recently woken up to the fact that we are all living longer, retiring later and that men are living longer than they used to compared to women. Not unreasonably therefore, the Government has decided that the State Pension age should be increased in line with future rises in life expectancy. and that we should receive a State pension for roughly one third of our adult lives. They have two priorities in this – to ensure that pensions are ‘affordable in the long term’ and that they are ‘fair between generations’. They are however playing catch up, as our life expectancy has been steadily increasing for decades, whilst the SPA has not moved at all until relatively recently.
The upshot is that as we all get closer to retirement, the age at which we can claim the State Pension keeps on moving away from us – or so it seems! So, what is the history of all these changes?
For decades, men retired at 65 and women retired at 60 but the Pensions Act of 1995 undertook to equalise the State Pension Age at 65 for both men and women over a 10 year period, starting in 2010. This was the start of the tinkering that has been going on ever since.
The Pensions Act of 2007 confirmed that the SPA for women would rise to 65 by 2020 and that the SPA for both men and women would then rise further to 66 between 2024 – 2026. It also provided the legislation to enable the State Pension to be changed to a less complex system in which everyone would be paid a single flat rate.
The Pensions Act of 2011 revised a number of previously announced timetables. Specifically, it amended the rise in SPA to 66 so that instead of being introduced between 2024-2026 it would now be introduced between December 2018 and October 2020. It also brought forward the equalisation of women’s SPA with men’s from April 2020 to November 2018. Finally, it also signposted a further rise in the unified SPA to age 67, to take place between 2026 – 2028.
It’s more complex if you are a woman!
If you are a woman, your SPA is determined by your date of birth. Since 2010 the state pension age for women has been changing to bring it in line with the male age of 65. By 2016 the retirement age for women will have risen to 63, and by 2020 it will have gone up to 66 to bring it into line with men’s SPA. You can find out your exact SPA by visiting the Government’s State Pension Calculator ,or there are detailed Pension tables in the excellent article on the new retirement ages by ThisisMoney.co.uk. Or you can just access the standalone tables.
The impact of these changes to previously announced dates have particularly affected women in their 50s who were planning to retire at 60. Some 500,000 women in their late 50’s have been affected by the decision of the last coalition government, which effectively added up to 18 months onto the start date of their state pension at very short notice. A campaign against the way the changes were introduced has been started – the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) also has a Facebook page with comprehensive information on the background to the campaign should you wish to find out more.
Gov.uk – the Government’s own source of information on the new State Pension and the changes that are taking place. Comprehensive website and jumping off point for more detailed information, but requires lots of clicking to find the bite-size chunks of information you want.
thisismoney.co.uk article on the new State Pension Age – useful overview with tables showing the changes to women’s SPA.
The Pensions Advisory Service page on the new State Pension also has links tot lots of other useful Pensions information
The Money Advice Service (MAS) overview of the changes to the State pension. The Money Advice Service is the Government’s site for free and impartial money advice
Financial Times article on why women have been hit particularly hard by the move to a ‘flat rate’ State pension
Excellent Telegraph article on the confusion surrounding the ‘top-up’ rules if your pension statement shows you have NI gaps or were contracted out.