When can I access my workplace pension?

6 min

One of the most common questions people have about their pension is, ‘well, when can I even access it’? 

It can feel a bit strange to lock money away for such a long time for ‘future you.’ But this is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself to make sure you have enough money later to live the life that you want! 

So when can I get that money?

Right now, the earliest you can access your workplace or personal pension is at age 55. This is also known as the normal minimum pension age (NMPA). The government sets this number. 

But from 6 April 2028, the normal minimum pension age will increase to 57. So after that date, the earliest you’d be able to get money from your workplace or personal pension would be when you turn 57. 

When it increases, you still might be able to access your pension at 55 if your pension scheme has a protected pension age (lucky you!). 

You’ll have this option if all the following apply:

  • you had money invested in the pension scheme on 3 November 2021
  • the rules of that pension scheme gave you the right to take your pension savings from an earlier age than 57
  • those rules were in place on 11 February 2021

The rules around the protected pension age can seem a little complicated. But basically, if you were paying into a defined contribution pension before 3 November 2021, it’s likely you’ll be able to claim your pension at age 55. But if you change jobs and start paying into a new pension scheme, the earliest you’ll be able to access your pension money is age 57. 

What if I transfer or consolidate my pensions?

If you transfer your pension, you could also have a protected pension age if you transferred:

  • from a pension that meets the conditions we mentioned above as part of a bulk transfer (this just means that it’s a transfer with at least one other member) to a new scheme after 11 February 2021. 
  • into a pension that meets the requirements above on, or before, 3 November 2021.

If you transfer your individual pension savings from a pension that has a protected pension age to one that doesn’t, the protected pension age might still apply to the transferred pension savings. But, this will depend on the terms of the pension you’re transferring into.

So it’s always important to make sure you know the minimum pension age and read the terms and conditions carefully before transferring or starting a new pension.

It might be possible for you to access your pension before the minimum pension age if you get ill. But you’ll need to check with your pension provider to make sure. 

Always watch out for scams 

If you’re offered the option to transfer your pension to allow early access, it could be a scam. And it would mean that you could lose your pension money or receive an unexpected tax bill. 

Scammers are relentless so it’s always important to be cautious when it comes to your money. 

Ok, what about my State Pension?

In the UK, the State Pension age is different from the normal minimum pension age. The State Pension age is currently 66 years old. So if you’ve made at least the minimum amount of National Insurance contributions (10 years), you’ll be able to claim your State Pension from that age. 

But, the government is planning to start gradually increasing the State Pension age from 6 May 2026.