We don’t support this browser anymore.
This means our website may not look and work as you would expect. Read more about browsers and how to update them here.

How pension drawdown works

How Pension Drawdown

Income, tax, rules and how to apply for drawdown

Apply for drawdown Use our pension drawdown calculator

Moving your pension into drawdown

You can move your pension into drawdown in one go, or move a bit in at a time. Up to 25% can normally be paid to you as tax-free cash, upfront, while the rest stays invested. You decide how much income to take (which is taxable), and when to take it.

You can apply for drawdown with your current pension provider (if they offer it), or transfer your pension to a drawdown provider like HL.

When deciding on the best drawdown provider for your needs, it’s important to check the quality of service, product features, fees, and value for money you’ll receive. You should also contact your existing provider to check you won’t lose any valuable benefits or need to pay high exit fees first.

Taking your tax-free cash

You can usually have up to 25% of your pension paid to you tax-free.

If you move your entire pension into drawdown, you’ll receive all your tax-free cash in one lump sum payment.

If you choose to move your pension into drawdown in stages, then you’ll receive your tax-free cash in stages too (up to 25% of the portion you move each time).

Remember pension and tax rules can change, and the value of benefits will depend on your circumstances.

More about tax-free cash

Up to25%tax-free cash

Choosing your income in drawdown

You’re in control of how much income you take and when. You might decide you don’t need an income straight away, or even at all. You might just want to take your tax-free cash.

If you do want an income, you can choose to take regular withdrawals or just dip into the pot as and when you need to - it’s up to you.

Like all other pension income, it will be taxable and added to any other income you receive that same tax year. Be particularly aware of this if you’re planning on large withdrawals, as it could push you into a higher income tax bracket by mistake.

Find out more about tax on withdrawals

Pension drawdown calculator

Drawdown income isn't secure, so you need to think carefully about how much you take. If you withdraw too much too soon, you might fall short in later years.

Our pension drawdown calculator could help you understand how long your drawdown plan might last.

Is drawdown right for me?

Drawdown offers one of the most flexible ways to access your pension. But compared with some other ways of taking retirement benefits, there are more risks involved.

These risks mean drawdown won’t be right for everyone, and you'll need to regularly review where you're invested and how much income you're taking.

You should make sure you understand all the risks and benefits of drawdown before you decide whether drawdown is right for you.

More on the risks and benefits

Picking your drawdown investments

For lots of people, one of the biggest attractions of drawdown is the potential for income to continue growing. But there’s no guarantee as investments carry risk and you could get back less than you invest. Most investments also carry charges which could impact your pension value and income. It’s likely that your goals and plans for taking income will heavily influence how you decide to invest and what investments you choose.

With the HL Drawdown Self-Invested Personal Pension, you can:

If you’re looking for investment inspiration our drawdown investment ideas could help.

View the drawdown investment ideas

Holding cash

Keeping some planned income in cash might give you peace of mind, and means you can avoid selling your investments during a stock market downturn to generate cash for withdrawals. But cash can lose value over time in real terms, especially if interest rates are lower than inflation. Holding large amounts of cash for long periods is unlikely to be a good long-term investment.

More on holding cash

Apply for drawdown with HL

Drawdown is available through our Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). You can view our charges here.

How to apply

You should understand the risks and benefits of drawdown before you start, and find out how long your pension could last with our drawdown calculator.

When you're ready, you can choose how you want to apply.

Already in drawdown and looking for a better service?

Before transferring please check you won't lose valuable guarantees or need to pay high exit fees. If you choose to transfer your investments as they are, you won't be able to make any changes whilst the transfer goes through. If you transfer as cash you'll miss any market rises, but you won't be affected by any market falls either.

New to pension drawdown?

Take a look at our guide to drawdown to find out more about the risks and benefits, and how to get started.

Pension drawdown guide

Drawdown Essentials

Annuity vs drawdown – what are the differences?

Learn more about the differences between annuities and drawdown, and how you could combine your retirement options for more security and flexibility in later life.

See more

When’s the best time to make a pension withdrawal?

If you're planning to take an income from your pension, how much you take, and when you take it can have big implications on the amount of tax you’ll pay. We reveal how to make tax efficient pension withdrawals.

See more