The value of your pension pot – whether an occupational pension, private pension or combination of the two – naturally builds up during the course of your working life, the purpose of which is to provide you with an income during your retirement.
Should you have a need for money for a specific objective and you are 55 or over, you may be able to release money from your pension before retirement.
In most cases, you could release up to 25% of your pension as a Tax-Free cash lump sum from your personal pension or old company pension, providing that you are not receiving your pension benefits already. Any additional money taken will be taxed at your highest marginal rate, or you can keep the remainder of the fund invested until your retirement.
This is sometimes described as Pension Release or Pension Unlocking and at Independent Pension Specialists Ltd, we can establish whether this is a suitable solution for you or not as taking benefits early will mean that you have less income at retirement.
What is Pension Release?
Just as the term suggests, Pension Release refers to your right to gain access to a Tax-Free cash lump sum from a pension that is not yet in payment – and that cash sum is typically 25% of your pension fund value or transfer value.
It is available for most types of private sector occupational or Defined Benefit (Final Salary) pension schemes, or personal pension scheme and, if you are aged 55 or over, you have the legal right to release the cash. If you are younger than 55, you may need to show that you are in very poor health in order to unlock your pension in this way.
Depending on the scheme you are currently in, you may need to transfer to an alternative pension scheme to release the funds – and this may incur a charge.
Why release or unlock my pension?
Pension Release provides a possible solution to raise money by unlocking funds in your pension for your use before retirement. Although legislation allows you to access for any purpose you choose, you may well reduce your retirement income considerably, so it should be for good reason and in terms of releasing money from a Defined Benefit Scheme, it should be deemed as a last resort.
For that reason alone, it is important to seek independent financial advice before deciding whether to go down this route and, with that help, consider whether there are alternative ways of raising the cash you need, without disturbing your pension.
If you decide not to pursue your Pension Release options after discussing the matter with us, there is no fee charged for our initial consultation services.
What are my options?
If you want to access some or all of the funds locked up in your pension, there are a number of options – which we are pleased to go through with you in detail – including:
• Release of all or part of your 25% Tax-Free cash allowance, leaving the remainder invested for you to take at a later date – possibly in a Flexi-Access Drawdown arrangement; or
• Release of the whole of your pension fund, including both the Tax-Free lump sum and the remainder as a single lump sum or in multiple payments as required, on which you may be liable to pay tax at your highest marginal rate.
Do I qualify?
Other than your age qualification of 55 or over, you need a personal pension or an old company pension scheme that is not in payment.
Whether you decide to proceed with Pension Release depends very much on your personal needs and circumstances.
To help you make that decision we will conduct an initial consultation at our cost and you are under no-obligation to proceed.
How to proceed
We do not make any charge for the initial assessment and/or face to face meeting/telephone discussion, to determine your objectives and establish whether our pension release service is appropriate for you or not.
If our service is appropriate, we will agree the fee before commencing any chargeable work on your behalf. Our fee structure and methods of payment is fully documented in our Key Facts “about our services and costs” document. This, along with our Terms of Business document will be issued to you automatically upon receipt of your initial Enquiry Form and Letter of Authorisation. You may request a copy in advance, or you may download a copy from our website.
As an Independent Financial Adviser, we are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and you may inspect our registration with the Authority under our unique number 670043.
There are some scams to be aware of, some by unregulated companies. For your peace of mind, pension release is described in more detail on the government backed website, the Money Advice Service or you may, of course, simply contact us to speak to one of our pension specialists on 01622 238000 or complete the “Contact Us” form on the website.