Understanding your pension statement
A pension statement is an annual summary of your pension pot. It shows how much you have built up so far and gives you a projected retirement income. Your state pension forecast is different and highlights whether you have paid enough national insurance to get the full weekly payment.
Every year you should receive a pension statement from your pension provider. You can also request a pension statement, or forecast, from the government. It is important to understand the information provided to help you make informed decisions about your retirement.
What is a pension statement?
A pension statement is an annual summary of your retirement savings sent to you by your pension provider. It should give you an overview of the value of your pension pot.
- How much you have paid in over the past year.
- How much your employer has contributed.
- What tax relief you have received.
- The value of your pension at the start and end of the year.
- What fees and charges have been deducted.
- What your pension is invested in and how those investments have performed.
- A projection of what income you might receive at retirement (note this is based on investment growth assumptions, so it is not guaranteed).
Your pension statement may also include any special features of your pension such as a guaranteed annuity rate. It will also list any restrictions such as an early exit fee. It is important to familiarise yourself with these restrictions and special features as they could affect any decision to transfer your pension to another provider. That’s because you could find you lose special features or face an expensive exit fee.
Anyone with a defined benefit pension – or final salary pension – will find the following information on their pension statement:
- Your pension value at retirement – based on your salary.
- How long you have worked for your employer.
- The rate at which your benefits accumulate.
- Your pensionable salary.
- Details of any deductions taken from your pension.
- What your benefits will be if you work until your planned retirement date.
- What your benefits will be if you leave the scheme within a month of the date of your pension statement.
How your pension statement can affect your retirement income
Reading your pension statement carefully and taking in what it is telling you can give you an annual opportunity to assess how your retirement plans are progressing.
With a defined contribution pension this means looking at the income projection and assessing if you are on course to have the retirement income you hoped for.
If your defined contribution pension statement reveals that you are not on course for the retirement you want, you still have time to do something about it. This could be:
- Increasing your contributions.
- Adjusting your investments.
- Delaying your retirement.
If you think your defined benefit pension will not deliver the retirement income you need, you can still open your own personal pension such as a self-invested personal pension. You won’t get an employer contribution but any contributions you make will still be topped up by tax relief.
» COMPARE: Self-invested personal pensions
How to request your pension statement
If you aren’t receiving pension statements, it could be a sign that your current and past pension providers hold out of date contact details for you. This needs to be addressed before you lose track of your pension and potentially forget about it.
Get in touch with your pension provider, ensure they have your current address and then request a statement. You should be able to find their contact details on any paperwork you do have.
If you don’t have contact details for your pension and it is a workplace pension with your current job, then ask your employer for information on your pension provider.
Not sure who to contact about your pension? The government’s Pension Tracing service can help you rediscover your forgotten pensions.
» MORE: Find lost pensions
Getting a statement for your state pension
The government doesn’t send out statements for state pensions. But you can request a state pension forecast. This will tell you your state retirement age and how much you are on course to receive when you retire.
It’s a good idea to look at your state pension forecast from time to time – every ten years or so – to make sure you are on track to receive the full state pension. If you aren’t there are a number of things you can do to boost your state pension such as delaying taking it or making voluntary national insurance contributions.
You can request a state pension forecast at Gov.uk/check-state-pension or by calling the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175.
How to review your pension statement online
Lots of personal pension providers now have desktop and mobile apps where you can view your pension performance whenever you like. If this would be useful to you, check with your pension provider before taking out your pension.
To view your state pension online, visit the state pension forecast address on Gov.uk detailed above.
How long should I keep pension statements?
Don’t just read your pension statement and throw it away. Keep hold of it and file it away with any other pension paperwork you have. That way, you will have a record of who your pension is with and details of your pension scheme.
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Ruth is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for national newspapers, magazines and websites. Specialising in savings, investments, pensions and property. Read more