Is there a limit on my benefits?
The benefits available from your SIPP or SSAS will depend on your age and the size of your fund at the time you take them. The total value of all of your pension funds will be tested against the lifetime allowance. The lifetime allowance is currently £1 million for the 2017/18 tax year. If this total value exceeds the lifetime allowance then there may be a tax charge (see details of the lifetime allowance and protections later in this section).
When can I take my benefits?
You may commence your benefits from your pension fund (known as ‘crystallisation’) at any time from age 55. There is no requirement for you to stop working or ‘retire’ when you take your benefits. You may be able to take your benefits earlier than age 55 in one of the following circumstances:
• You become seriously ill, or
• Your pension fund is made up of funds transferred from an existing pension with a lower pension age provided that the transfer to your SIPP or SSAS complied with certain HMRC requirements.
Can I take my benefits in stages?
Yes, you can crystallise a percentage of your pension fund and take benefits from this crystallised fund leaving the rest uncrystallised. This means that instead of taking your benefits in one go, you could take your benefits in stages by crystallising portions of your fund so as to suit your own personal requirements.
What are my benefit options?
The benefits available under your pension fund changed on the 6th April 2015, because the Government has introduced new more flexible options. The options available are:
• A pension commencement lump sum and a pension income. The income can be taken either as Flexi Access Drawdown, Capped Drawdown (subject to certain criteria outlined below) or an Annuity; or
• An Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum
Can I get help with understanding my options?
Taking your benefits is a complex process, which can lead to irreversible decisions. Taking large benefit payments from your pension fund may not be tax efficient or sustainable, especially if you are reliant on your pension to support you for the rest of your life. It is therefore essential that you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision on what is best for you.
There are two main places that you can go to get help with understanding your options. These are:
• A financial adviser who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
• Pension Wise, which is a Government service that offers free impartial guidance on your benefit options.
We will provide more details on these options when you come to take your benefits or on request.