When you’re planning for retirement, it can be easy to overlook the value of the State Pension, particularly if you’re a high net worth individual.
You may have considered the value of your workplace or personal pensions alongside other savings and investments in your plan for how you’ll support yourself in later life.
But you may have downplayed or even entirely ignored the value of the State Pension, on the basis that it likely won’t be enough to fund your retirement lifestyle on its own.
While this is typically true, that doesn’t mean the State Pension is worthless to you. Indeed, this sum can still make a significant contribution to your retirement.
Read on to find out why, and how to make sure that you’ll receive the full amount when you reach State Pension Age.
A guaranteed sum of income paid every 4 weeks
The current State Pension Age in the UK is 66, although this is set to rise to 67 in 2028. Upon reaching this age, you’re entitled to start claiming the State Pension.
In the 2023/24 tax year, the full amount you can claim is £203.85 a week, which adds up to around £10,600 a year. Typically, this is paid every four weeks in arrears – that is, for the last four weeks, not the coming four.
While a modest annual sum of £10,600 might not be enough to help you reach your goals of going on holidays or enjoying luxuries in retirement, it could be invaluable in providing a bedrock to your lifestyle.
Once you start claiming the State Pension, this is a guaranteed income that you can rely on. This can make it ideal for covering basic costs such as food and utilities, ensuring that you’re always able to meet these vital financial obligations.
Additionally, the value of your pension or other investments could rise and fall in line with the investment markets. This could affect how much you’re able to withdraw in income in certain months.
Meanwhile, you’ll still receive your State Pension every four weeks, no matter what. That means you can depend on this sum for meeting basic costs, even if there’s uncertainty or volatility in markets.
The State Pension rises in line each year with economic circumstances
Not only is the State Pension a guaranteed sum, but it also rises in line with economic circumstances each year thanks to the “triple lock”.
The government introduced the triple lock in 2010, a vital guarantee that ensures the State Pension keeps pace with rising living costs.
Under these rules, it ensures that the State Pension rises at the start of the new tax year based on one of three factors, hence the “triple” in the name. The annual increase is determined by the highest of the following measures:
- Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in the year to September.
- Average wage growth from May to July, year-on-year.
- A flat 2.5% increase.
If you use your State Pension income to meet your essential financial obligations, the triple lock can offer you the peace of mind that it could keep pace with the rising cost of living and continue to be the foundation of your retirement income over time.
Check that you’ll receive the full State Pension ahead of retiring
With the knowledge that the State Pension can be incredibly valuable in retirement, it’s also important to check that you’re eligible to receive the full amount.
To be eligible for the State Pension, you must first have a certain number of “qualifying years” on your National Insurance (NI) record – 10 years to be eligible for any State Pension at all, or 35 years for the full State Pension.
You typically accrue qualifying years through work when you make National Insurance contributions (NICs), but there are other factors that allow you to claim credits, such as caring for a child or receiving some benefits.
However, even if you’ve worked all your life, there’s still a chance you have gaps in your NI record. These gaps could be a result of:
- Working abroad and paying taxes in another country
- Taking time off to raise children
- Being unable to work due to illness or injury.
Failing to make up these gaps in your NI record could result in a reduced retirement income when you eventually reach State Pension Age, so it may be worth obtaining a State Pension forecast to identify any missing qualifying years.
If, after the forecast, you discover gaps in your record, you can make voluntary NICs to “buy” additional qualifying years. It’s worth remembering that you can typically only make up to six years of missing NICs, though until April 2025, you can also top up any contributions you missed between April 2006 and 2016.
MoneyHelper states that it usually costs £907.20 to top up a year’s worth of Class 3 NICs, and for every additional one you make, your State Pension would increase by nearly £303 a year – more than £6,000 over a 20-year retirement.
Alternatively, you may be able to claim “specified adult childcare credits” if you cared for a family member under the age of 12, boosting your State Pension entitlement without costing you anything.
If you’re a high net worth individual, you may not want to overlook the State Pension, as it can be a valuable part of your overall retirement income. Even if you consider £10,600 a modest sum, it is a reliable source of income that can act as a cornerstone for your finances in retirement.
Better yet, it’s designed to keep pace with the rising cost of living, offering you the reassurance that its value can remain consistent over time.
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If you’d like help achieving your dream lifestyle in retirement, you could benefit from financial planning.
At Cordiner Wealth, we’ll organise your wealth so you can make the most of your money and reach your goals in later life.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0113 262 1242 to find out more.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.
All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.