State pension age hiked to 66, and could rise more

by Marc Shoffman from interactive investor |

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Move widens the gulf between private and state pension to 11 years, with the benefit expected to be watered down further.

The state pension age has increased to 66 today for both men and women, meaning many nearing retirement must wait longer to get the benefit.

Experts say savers will need private savings and income such as a personal pension or ISA, as this is just the start of changes to the state pension system.

From today (6 October), men and women born between 6 October 1954 and 5 April 1960 will start receiving their pension on their 66th birthday.

But that is not the end of the changes.

Those born after these dates are now facing phased increases, with the state pension age set to hit 67 from 2026, and eventually 68.

This has left a growing divide with private pensions, which can currently be accessed from age 55, meaning savers face a wait of more than a decade if they need to top up their income with the state pension.

The Treasury has also reportedly been considering watering down the state pension to help free up money to pay the country’s bill to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Women born in the 1950s have also claimed they have been unfairly hit by changes to the system.

Campaigners fought an unsuccessful legal challenge last month questioning the fairness of the state pension age rising faster than expected for women from age 60 to level it up with men at 65 and now further.

There have been suggestions that retirees should be able to access the benefit earlier.

Insurer Aegon is suggesting people should be offered the option to take their state pension earlier, from age 63, subject to a reduction in its weekly amount.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, says: “In the private pension space, pension freedoms have proved hugely popular in allowing people to take more control over when they start drawing their defined contribution pension, currently from as early as age 55 increasing to 57 in 2028. 

“But this is not reflected in the state pension where the minimum access age is 66 for all, and will increase further to age 67.

“The higher the state pension age is, the more difficult it will be for those in stressful or manual occupations to keep working until state pension age.” 

The full state pension is currently £175.20 a week and the government has so far remained committed to its triple lock pledge. This guarantees yearly state pension increases will be in line with the highest of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

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