We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Step-by-step guide to making your pension choice

Our pension experts have set out the steps you need to take in the countdown to deciding how to take your pension income. Click on each step for timings and more information.


Be aware of pensions scams

Talk to your pension company

Shop around

Pension Wise

Get financial advice

Make your decision on your pension fund


1: Be aware of pensions scams

When? During the whole process of converting your pension

Pension scammers have taken advantage of the 2015 freedoms to find new ways to part you from your pension money. Cold callers will offer you new business opportunities, the chance to take your pension money before you reach 55 and ‘unique’ ways in which to invest your pension savings.

For more, see our guide to pension-scams.

2: Talk to your pension company

When? 6 months before retirement

Your pension companies should contact you six months before you retire, outlining your options and again six weeks before. If you haven’t heard from the company, give it a ring to find out what your final pension will be and how it will be paid. If you’re enrolled in a workplace pension scheme, contact the pension trustee to find out how much you’ll get.

For more, see our guide to company pensions.

3: Shop around

When? 6 months before retirement

You don’t have to take out a pension product with your current provider. You’ll usually get a better annuity rate or a flexi-access drawdown product with lower charges if you switch company. Take the time to get some comparative quotations. Make sure you check whether there are any exit penalties if you decide to move your money to another provider, though.

For more, see our guide to what the pension changes mean for you .

4: Pension Wise

When? Any time but usually around 3 months before retirement

People aged 50+ have access to free, impartial guidance, on what to do with the money in their defined contribution (DC) schemes (where they’ve built up a pot through their working life). This service, called Pension Wise, is being delivered by two independent organisations: The Pensions Advisory Service and Citizens Advice.

For more, see our guide to what is Pension Wise.

5: Get financial advice

When? Around 3 months before retirement

If you've got particularly complex needs in retirement, have built up multiple pension pots, or need help with investing any of your spare cash, it is worth seeking financial advice. Some pension companies require you to get financial advice before you can sign up for flexi-access drawdown.

For more, see our guide to financial advice.

6: Make your decision on your pension fund

When? At retirement (or you could defer a while)

You’ll need to make a final decision about how you want to take your retirement income. The pension freedoms mean that you have four main options, or a mixture of the four – arrange an annuity, opt for income drawdown, withdraw in chunks via UFPLS or take the lot in one go (but you could pay 40% tax on some of it that way).

For more, see our guide to income options for your pension.