Last Updated: 6 October 2023
The transition into retirement isn't as clear cut as it used to be. There's no 'standard retirement age' anymore. This has left many misconceptions around what age you can retire.
Below, we help set the record straight. And explore what you should think about before giving up work completely.
This article isn't personal advice. What you do with your pension is an important decision. Get guidance or ask for financial advice if you're not sure. The government provides a free and impartial service to help you understand your retirement options - more on Pension Wise.
What age can I get my pension?
A private or workplace pension is designed for your retirement, so the money is locked away until you get older.
Currently you can access your pension from age 55. In 2028 you’ll need to be at least age 57 to access it. There are some circumstances where you’ll be able to get your pension sooner, for example serious ill health or if your pension scheme has an earlier protected retirement age.
What is the average retirement age in the UK?
The average retirement age in the UK is about 65 for men, and 64 for women. This has been steadily increasing since the 1990s.
Although many people give up work in their 60s, retirement is extremely personal. You might want to retire as early as possible or work as long as you're physically able to.
What age can a man retire?
There’s no clear-cut retirement age anymore as the ‘default retirement age’ (a forced retirement age of 65) no longer exists. You can retire whenever you can afford to, or you can choose to work as long as you can.
You can even choose to keep working after you reach State Pension age. State Pension age is currently age 66 for both men and women but its set to gradually start increasing in 2026.
What age can a woman retire?
You can choose to retire at any age regardless of your gender, you just need to make sure you will have enough money to last as long as your retirement .
Many people choose to retire at State Pension age, but you’re not forced to anymore. In the past, the State Pension age was 60 for women. It changed to 65 between 2010 and 2018. Now the State Pension age is currently 66 for both men and women.
How do I calculate my retirement age?
The better question might be at what age can you afford to retire? Calculating this is the first step, and our pension calculator can help.
You just need to enter a few details about yourself and your pension, including your desired retirement age. The calculator will show you what your pension could be worth by that time and how much annual income it could pay you. If you're falling short of your goals, try adjusting your retirement age to see what impact this could have.
When can I receive the State Pension?
The State Pension age is currently 66, and it's the earliest age that someone can start receiving the State Pension, if eligible. But this won't be the case for everyone. You could receive your State Pension later than this depending on your date of birth.
The State Pension age is expected to increase to 68 by 2046. Although there's no guarantee it won't rise quicker or higher than that. For example, it's been reported that the government could introduce the increase as early as 2035.
You can check your State Pension age using the government's State Pension age calculator.
You won't get the State Pension automatically. You have to claim it. The quickest way to do this is online, but you can also apply by post.
Can I retire early?
Many of us dream of an early retirement. In reality, the ability to retire early will depend on your circumstances, including your current expenditure, the lifestyle you want in retirement, and how much income you'll need to fund it.
If you're relying on your private or workplace pension to cover your drop in earnings, there are limits on how early you can access it. It's usually from age 55, rising to 57 in 2028.
You could be betting on an inheritance to help fund an early retirement - but relying on it alone is a dangerous game.
When can I retire calculator
Our pension calculator will help you work out how much your pension might pay, based on your desired retirement age.
Timing your retirement
Taking the time to get yourself retirement-ready is essential. Part of this is understanding where you're going to live, if you're ready to finish work, making sure you've paid off your bigger expenses, and some other financial considerations.
Start to think about where you'll live
If downsizing is part of your retirement plan and you're hoping to free up some extra cash, just remember this strategy doesn't come without its costs. The price of stamp duty, solicitors' fees, surveys, redecorating and removals all add up. It might be more expensive than you first imagined.
You should weigh things up emotionally and logistically too. For instance, you might compromise your social life if you move away from friends or family and travel may become more difficult in later life.
Pay off big expenses first
It's not necessarily a good idea to take big expenses like your mortgage, and any other debts into retirement with you. Paying these off first will help you to reduce your outgoings before you give up regular and guaranteed income from work.
Finishing work isn't an easy decision for everyone. Many people enjoy their working life so much that they don't stop until they're physically unable to continue. Some people can't get out the door quick enough.
Whenever you decide to finish work, there are both financial and emotional considerations. To ease yourself into retirement you could consider reducing your hours first. That way you'll continue to receive a guaranteed income, maintain your social connections and routine, but also have the freedom to do more of the things that you enjoy.
Check how long your pension will last
As we're living longer, our retirement savings need to last longer too. The average life expectancy for a 55 year old woman today is 87, and for a 55 year old man it's 84, so your income might need to last you 30 years or more.
It's essential to be realistic about your life expectancy, especially if you're planning to retire early. It can help you to avoid running out of money too soon, and you can also get a better steer on how frugal you might need to be throughout retirement.
If you haven't already taken money from your pension, but plan to take a flexible payment (through drawdown or as a lump sum), it can be a good idea to use our calculator or request an illustration. They'll show you how your withdrawals could affect how long your pension lasts, and how sustainable they may, or may not, be.
If you opt for a secure income and buy an annuity, you won't have to worry about making your income last. It will pay you a guaranteed amount for life, but it's much less flexible as it normally can't be altered once set up.
Work out the right retirement option for you
It's likely that your income needs will change throughout your later life. For this reason, many people choose to blend their options. For some people the best approach could be to take a flexible income through drawdown, then gradually swap small portions of your pension for annuities as you get older. Read our latest article to find out more.