With the UK state pension age on the rise, here’s how the latest court ruling affects you, and some tips on how best to plan for your retirement.
What is the state pension age for men and women?
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but the state pension age is on the rise.
Right now, the state pension age is 65 for men and women, but it’ll rise to 66 by the end of October 2020. The worst part? It’s only going to increase further – by 2039, it’ll be 68 for all of us, and it won’t stop there.
But what happened to the days when women could claim their state pension at 60 and men at 65? Well, they’re behind us now, and there’s no going back. Here’s why.
The court case
Last week, the High Court ruled that it’s fair to raise the state pension age to 66 for everyone. They dismissed an appeal brought by two women who claimed that:
- The rise causes women financial hardship because it was unexpected
- Women are paid less than men, so it’s unfair to change the pension age
- The change amounts to gender discrimination
So why did the High Court dismiss the appeal? It’s all about gender equality. While the Court accepted that around four million women are affected by the age increase, they ruled that there’s nothing discriminatory about increasing the state pension age. On the contrary, it’s a fairer system now.
What happens now?
What does the decision mean for women? Can they appeal again? Yes, they can, and it looks like they’ll take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court overturns the decision, there’s a chance the UK government will review the state pension age again.
But right now, we need to work on the assumption that women can’t claim their state pension until they’re 65 (soon to be 66). So, what does this mean for people who are caught out by the decision? And how should young people prepare for the future? Here’s what you need to know.
Preparing for retirement
Let’s be clear on one thing: it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. In fact, the better you prepare for your own retirement, the less likely it is that you’ll need to rely on the state pension anyway. So what can you do? Here are some ideas.
Use a pension calculator
First, work out how much you’ll actually get when you retire. The Money Advice Service has a free calculator. Once you know the figures, you have a starting point. From there, you can work out how to reach your retirement income goals.
Open a savings account
Even if you’re on a low income, you can open a savings account. It doesn’t matter how much money you can save each month – even £5 or £10 a month adds up over time. Shop around for the best interest rates and check out our guide to savings accounts for more help.
Got extra cash? Consider share dealing. All you need to do is:
- Decide whether you want to buy and sell shares yourself or through a broker.
- Open an online share dealing account.
- Start buying shares.
You might also benefit from opening a stocks and shares ISA account – you can talk to a financial adviser about this. And remember, there’s always risk involved in buying shares, so don’t rush into any decisions.
Pay down debt
Clear as much debt as you can. Why? Because once you reach state pension age, it might be harder to find money to pay off credit cards, loans, and other debt.
- Identify how much you owe.
- Work out what you can afford to repay each month.
If you’re struggling to manage your debts, don’t panic – you can get free debt help from Citizens Advice.
Consolidate your credit card debt
Are you paying off lots of different credit cards? If so, it might be worth consolidating your credit card debt. There are two ways to do this.
- Take out a debt consolidation loan.
- Switch to an interest-free balance transfer credit card.
Consolidating your debt means paying one lump sum each month, which can help you feel more in control of your finances. The quicker you pay off debt, the easier it is to save money for retirement.
Just remember that you need a good credit score to consolidate your debt, and it might not be the right choice for you. Always get financial advice first.
The state pension age is only going to increase, so if you want to retire earlier, you’ll need a strategy.
If you’re over 50, talk to Pension Wise about your options. If you’re under 50, focus on clearing debt, building a savings account, and starting an investment portfolio.
The sooner you start, the better prepared you’ll be, and the less you’ll rely on a state pension.
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