Why are the pension rules changing?
Changes to state pension rules will be implemented when the new tax year starts on 6 April as the Government seeks to tackle the fact that we are living longer and there are fewer people of working age to support the retired population.
Will women work longer?
Next month will see the start of the alignment of the state retirement age for men and women. At the moment, women can retire at 60 and men at 65, but over the next 10 years the retirement age for women will be gradually raised to 65. By 2046 the retirement age for both men and women will have risen to 68.
If you are unsure when you can retire, there's a useful calculator on www.direct.gov.uk.
What will happen to national insurance contributions?
In order to qualify for the full state benefit men have to make national insurance contributions for 44 years and women 39. This will be changing after 6 April as you will only be required to have made national insurance payments for 30 years in order to qualify for your full state pension – good news for those who have taken a few years out of work for example, to raise a family.
Will there be help for carers?
Those who care for children, elderly parents or family will also benefit from the changes. Currently, people need to be working as carers for a minimum of 35 hours per week in order to gain credits towards their state pension. However this requirement will drop to 20 hours per week.
What if I want to retire early?
Even though the state retirement age is 60 or 65, if you have a personal pension or are part of a company pension scheme you do not have to wait until then to draw your pension. You will have to wait longer than you do at the moment, though. From next month the age at which you can draw a personal or company pension is rising from 50 to 55.