4. Managing your pension

Find out how much you’ve saved

Your pension provider will usually send you a statement each year to tell you how much is in your pension pot. You can also ask them for an estimate of how much you’ll get when you start taking your pension pot.

What you see on your payslip

You don’t need to do anything to get tax relief on your pension contributions. There are 2 types of arrangements:

  • net pay
  • relief at source

Check with your employer which arrangement your workplace pension uses. This determines what you’ll see on your payslip.

‘Net pay’

Your employer takes your contribution from your pay before it’s taxed. You only pay tax on what’s left. This means you get full tax relief, no matter if you pay tax at the basic, higher or additional rate.

The amount you’ll see on your payslip is your contribution plus the tax relief.

You won’t get tax relief if you don’t pay tax, eg because you earn less than the tax threshold.

‘Relief at source’

Your employer takes your pension contribution after taking tax and National Insurance from your pay. However much you earn, your pension provider then adds tax relief to your pension pot at the basic rate.

With ‘relief at source’, the amount you see on your payslip is only your contributions, not the tax relief.

You may be able to claim money back if you pay higher or additional rate Income Tax.

Tracing lost pensions

The Pension Tracing Service could help you find pensions you’ve paid into but lost track of.

Nominate someone to get your pension if you die

You may be able to nominate (choose) someone to get your pension if you die before reaching the scheme’s pension age. You can do this when you first join the pension or by writing to your provider.

Ask your pension provider if you can nominate someone and what they’d get, eg regular payments or lump sums. Check your scheme’s rules about:

  • who you can nominate - some payments can only go a dependant, eg your husband, wife, civil partner or child under 23
  • whether anything can change what the person gets, eg when and how you start taking your pension pot, or the age you die

You can change your nomination at any time. It’s important to keep your nominee’s details up to date.

Sometimes the pension provider can pay the money to someone else, eg if the person you nominated can’t be found or has died.

When and how your pension is paid

Most pension schemes set an age when you can take your pension, usually between 60 and 65. In some circumstances you can take your pension early. The earliest is usually 55.

How you get money from your pension depends on the type of scheme you’re in.

Defined contribution pension schemes

You’ll need to decide how to take your money if you’re in a defined contribution pension scheme.

Defined benefit pension schemes

You may be able to take some money as a tax-free lump sum if you’re in a defined benefit pension scheme - check with your pension provider. You’ll get the rest as a guaranteed amount each year.