You can choose what to do with your savings when you retire
When it comes to taking your retirement savings, you have a number of options. The main options are:
You can also take a combination of these options. For example, you could take up to 25% of your account value as tax-free cash and use the remaining balance to provide an income through an annuity or drawdown.
As this is a complex decision, you should seek independent financial advice before deciding which option is right for you.
If you want the security of knowing that you will have a certain amount of income for the rest of your life, like a traditional pension, you can use the money in your account to buy an annuity from an external provider.
You can tailor an annuity to suit your needs. Some of the options you can choose are:
Generally, the more options you choose, the lower the amount of starting pension you will receive.
If you buy an annuity, you can choose to receive your payments monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly, and you can receive your payments at the beginning of the period (in advance) or at the end of the period (in arrears). You will pay tax on your payments, but not National Insurance.
You can take up to 25% of the value of your account as a lump sum of money to spend or invest.
If you do this, you will have less money left in your account to use to provide an income, but it means that you will pay less tax than if you were to use the whole of your account to buy an annuity.
You can take more than 25% of the value of your account as cash, but you will pay income tax on anything above 25%.
You can take all or part of your retirement savings in one or a few lump sums.
If you take more than 25% of the value of your account as cash, you will have a lower Annual Allowance (known as the Money Purchase Annual Allowance), which will limit the amount that you can pay into other pension accounts in the future.
If you want flexible access to your money, you may want to look at drawdown which keeps your retirement savings invested (so it will continue to earn investment returns) and allows you to take a regular taxable income from your retirement account when it suits you. You can choose to increase or decrease the amount of income you take to match your needs. You can also take one-off taxable payments from your retirement savings.
If you choose this option, you will need to make sure you have other savings to live on after your fixed period ends.
If you have a large balance and are looking for a more flexible or longer-term drawdown facility, you could consider transferring out to a specialist drawdown provider.
If you start to take your savings through a drawdown arrangement, you will have a lower Annual Allowance (known as the Money Purchase Annual Allowance), which will limit the amount that you can pay into other pension accounts in the future.