Thousands of women face a major re-think of their retirement plans after a warning many remain in the dark about forthcoming changes to their state pension.
The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) says callers to its women's helpline - which has been running for almost a year - have not fully grasped changes to women's pension ages, the reduction in the number of qualifying years needed for a full basic state pension, and improved ability to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions.
Between 2010 and 2020, state pension age for women will increase progressively from 60 to 65 to bring it in line with men's. The staged increases will apply to women born between April 6, 1950 and April 5, 1955.
Many of the callers were unaware their state pension will not be paid to them, as now, at age 60 and that in some cases they will have to wait several years before payment can commence.
Whereas a number of the women who contacted the helpline had heard of the reduced NI qualifying years requirement (down from 39 to 30 years from April 6, 2010), many of them seem to be unaware that this is a "cliff edge" change.
Many women also confessed to being very confused about their right to make good missing NI contributions and whether it would be to their advantage to do so. Although especially beneficial to women, the rules are indeed complex.
"It is very important that women, particularly those approaching retirement age, are aware of all these important changes," TPAS chief executive Malcolm McLean says.
"They could have a material affect on their pension plans and, in the case of voluntary NI contributions, the possibility of their securing a bigger pension for themselves for life.
"I would urge all women who are not clear as their rights in this often complex and confusing area to contact our helpline."IFAonline
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