The auto-enrolment solution for Northern Ireland

What are my retirement options?

Deciding what to do with your retirement income is important and you should think carefully about  what is right for you. 

We will write to you in advance of your 65th birthday to provide you with your retirement options. You may however claim your benefits at any time from age 55 whether you leave your employer or not.

There are circumstances when you can take your retirement benefits earlier than age 55 (for example, if you are forced to retire due to ill-health or are terminally ill).

If you would like to take your benefits before your 65th birthday, please contact us to request your options.

What options are available?

There are a number of options available to you depending on the size of your pension pot.

  • Leave the pension pot untouched
    You may decide to leave your pension pot invested and take it at a later date.
  • Take your whole pot as cash
    25% of this will be tax free, the remaining 75% will be subject to income tax.
  • Get a guaranteed income (an annual pension or annuity)
    Choose a guaranteed income with the full amount - by buying an annual pension (an annuity) with an insurance company
    Choose a guaranteed income and a tax free lump sum - where the member can take up to 25% as a tax free lump sum and the rest is used to buy an annual pension with an insurance company.

Members wishing to buy an annual pension may do so through the Scheme’s appointed provider, Mercer Private Wealth, or alternatively appoint their own provider. This would involve transferring your fund to the provider. The provider will outline the types of annual pension available to you.

The Scheme does not offer flexible income (flexi-access drawdown or multiple lump sums) or the opportunity to mix pension options. If a member is interested in these options they can transfer their entire pension pot to another provider. The options available to members are kept under review by the Trustee.

Pension Wise

Pension Wise is the Government’s free and impartial guidance service giving individuals information to help them make a decision on how to take their pension pot. Guidance can be accessed in a number of ways as detailed on the Pension Wise section of the MoneyHelper website.

You should access this guidance and consider taking independent financial advice to help you decide which option is most suitable for you.

Remember, you do not need to decide on these options until you wish to take benefits and you should seek financial advice to determine the best option for you.

Pension scams

Thousands of people have lost their life savings after falling for a pension scam. Don't be next.

We would recommend that you exercise caution if you have received a website promotion, text message, cold-call or advert encouraging you to transfer your benefits in order to access a cash payment or loan.

Legislation states that cash from pensions cannot be accessed before you reach age 55 and any plans that claim to provide you with a loan or cash sum greater than the Scheme could provide should be avoided.

In spite of this there are a number of companies offering ways to release existing pensions, or a proportion, as cash. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, these promises are bogus and such plans may result in you paying substantial tax charges and receiving a lower benefit in retirement.

Further details are available in the Pensions Regulator's Pension Scam Leaflet which includes four steps to protect your pension.

What happens after I claim my benefits?

If you remain in employment you will continue membership of the Scheme after claiming your benefits. This means that employer and employee pension contributions continue as normal. This enables you to build up another pension pot.

State benefits

Please note that, based on our current understanding, when you come to retirement, if your entitlement to state benefits is subject to 'means testing', you may find that the income you receive from the Scheme could be offset against your entitlement to, or reduce the amount you receive from, certain social security benefits.