Men and women will now have to wait until they are 66 in order to qualify for a state pension. The change comes after a decade of increases in the qualifying age to draw the benefit.
A decade ago, men qualified for the state pension at 65, and women qualified at 60. However, over the years the qualifying ages for both sexes have been made equal, and have increased.
The increase in being phased in, and has resulted in someone being born on 5 October 1954 being able to draw their pension from 6 September 2020, but someone born the day after would not qualify for another month.
Anyone who has made at least 10 years’ worth of national insurance contributions is eligible for the state pension. Currently, the payment is worth up to £175.20.
The changes to the qualification age reflect the increased life expectancy in the UK.
When the first pension was introduced in 1908, it did not pay out until the age of 70. Only 24% of people would reach state pension age as the average life expectancy for men was 40, and women was 43.
In contrast, 85% of people were reaching the state pension age by 2017.
Ros Altmann, former pensions minister, says that the system fails to account for the differences in life expectancy across different social groups, occupations, and regions.
“The most disadvantaged members of society tend to have the poorest health. Many had hard manual working lives, which has taken its toll on their health. Therefore, using average life expectancy particularly disadvantages such workers, even if they have worked for 50 years or more,” Altmann said.
“There has long been a strong case for considering a more flexible age range for starting state pension payments, and the pandemic has made this case even stronger. It could help many women and many who are seriously ill or need to care for loved ones, and I do hope the government will give this urgent consideration.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said that the government had committed to review the age of the state pension every six years. The process would make sure that the system was sustainable, affordable, fair, and offered pensioners adequate protection.
“Allowing early access to the state pension on a reduced basis could risk leaving people with an inadequate pension, while a universal state pension age provides simplicity and clarity, which helps people plan for their retirement,” the spokesperson added.
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