Does Your Personal Pension Affect Your Benefits?
Thanks to the pensions reform act, you can unlock your retirement pot once you reach 55. However, if you’re currently receiving means-tested benefits, it’s important to know how your personal pension – whether drawing down an income or not – could affect your financial position.
In this guide, we take a brief look at the relationship between personal pensions and means-tested benefits.
If you’d like tailored advice for your circumstances, we can put you in touch with one of the experts we work with for a free chat. We only work with regulated, independent financial advisors to make sure you truly get the right advice for your circumstances.
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Can you be on benefits and pay into a personal pension?
Also known as a group personal pension, a stakeholder pension works in a similar way to a private pension; although these products are considered a lower-risk option as they’re regulated more heavily than a private pension.
The pension provider also cannot increase your minimum monthly contribution, unlike with a private pension, so a stakeholder pension could provide more stability.
Does your personal pension affect your benefits?
Yes, any income or lump sums from your personal pension can affect your benefits if your means (i.e. income, savings and investments) become greater than your needs (the amount the government estimates you can live on).
This applies if you take money out of your pot or leave it in.
‘Means-tested benefits’ are calculated based on how much income and capital you have, so once you start drawing down an income from your personal pension, your benefits will likely be reassessed.
Means-tested benefits can include the following:
- Housing support
- Tax credits
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Pension Credit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Taking out a lump sum from your personal pension and putting it into your savings could also affect your entitlement.
If you have under £6,000 (£10,000 if you’re over the state pension age) saved it will not affect your benefits, but if you have capital of £16,000 or more saved, you won’t be entitled to receive any financial support.
Anything from £6,001 to £15,999 will be treated as income for £4.35 for each £250, or part of £250.
For example, if you take out £8,000 from your pension and put it into your savings, the first £6,000 will be ignored, but the remaining £2,000 is counted as giving you a monthly income of £34.80, which will be factored in when assessing your benefits.
You can use the following calculation to work out this monthly income:
£2,000 ÷ £250 = £8
8 x £4.35 = £34.80
For the right information, speak with a pension expert for a free, no-obligation chat about your options.
How does it affect Pension Credit?
The rules will be different depending on whether you’ve reached your Pension Credit age. Pension Credit is a government benefit for people over the state pension age, though this age is different for everyone and depends on your sex and age. It’s designed to top up your income if you are struggling. See the sections below for more information.
Before Pension Credit age
Any money taken out by you or your partner before your Pension Credit qualifying age will be considered when your benefits eligibility is assessed. For example, if you draw down an income from your personal pension before your Pension Credit age.
After Pension Credit age
After you reach your Pension Credit age, any money you take out or leave in your pension pot will be considered when assessing your eligibility to receive means-tested benefits.
Personal pensions and tax credits
There are two tax credits: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, although these will be replaced by Universal Credit which is currently being rolled out and claimants are expected to be moved across between 2020 to 2023.
It will replace six benefit schemes in total with one overall payment. For every pound of non-work related income you receive, your Universal Credit will be reduced by a pound.
If you claim tax credits, any taxable income you take from a pension will also be taxable income for the purposes of tax credits. So, you could end up with tax credit overpayments that you would have to pay back.
You may also receive less tax credits the following year as they are calculated based on yearly rates and yearly income figures.
While you don’t have to tell them about these changes until you claim renewal is due, you may want to tell them sooner to avoid any overpayments.
Child Tax Credit
If you’re responsible for dependant children and claim Child Tax Credit, your pension could affect the amount you can claim.
Your annual income would need to be less than £16,105 for the 2019/20 tax year in order to get the maximum amount of Child Tax Credits, although this total will also depend on the number of children you have and if any have a disability.
If you earn more than £16,105, your child tax credits will be reduced.
Bear in mind that Child Tax Credits are being replaced with Universal Credit, so you may be unable to claim it.
Working Tax Credits
Working Tax Credits are designed to support working individuals with a lower income and can be affected if you start drawing down an income from your personal pension. However, this benefit has now mostly been replaced by Universal Credit.
Will a personal pension affect an ESA?
Yes, it could do. Your Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) could be affected by regular income drawdown from a personal pension if you receive more than £85 a week. For every pound from your pension income that goes over £85 per week, your ESA will be reduced by 50p.
Does a personal pension affect carer’s allowance?
Yes, it may do. Carer’s allowance is taxable, but you’ll only have to pay tax if you take an income from your personal pension, or if you work part-time.
You can still contribute to a personal pension scheme. If you’re looking at personal pension plans because you’re worried that you are unable to work or don’t earn enough to make National Insurance (NI) contributions, you’ll get National Insurance credits which go towards your state pension (if you’re under the pension age).
Taking out a personal pension won’t affect these credits and while it’s always a great idea to think about your future by paying into another pension scheme, you may be thinking about how much it’ll cost you. Luckily, we work with independent pensions experts who can find pension plans with low contributions.
Make an enquiry and we’ll match you with someone for a free, no-obligation chat.
Can you use your Jobseekers’ Allowance to pay into a pension?
Yes, you can, although you may be entitled to less if you have a personal pension as New Style Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) is calculated based on your age, income and savings.
If you’re currently paying into an existing personal pension plan and are worried about meeting the payments, you could request to pause or cancel your contributions into the scheme.
However, this will depend on your policy’s terms and conditions, and what type of scheme it is.
For the right advice, speak with an expert.
Speak to an expert
Taking out a personal pension can give you an extra financial boost in your later years, but if you’re worried about how a pension could affect your benefits in the present, then speak with an expert.
They have experience in providing tailored advice to people with various backgrounds and can find pension plans to suit your needs. Your initial chat is free and there’s no obligation to take things further.