From Ros Altmann:economist and pensions,
    investment and retirement policy expert

  • pensionsandsavings.com

    State Pension Age hits 66 – isn’t it time to consider allowing early access for those who desperately need it?

    State Pension Age hits 66 – isn’t it time to consider allowing early access for those who desperately need it?

    • As State Pension Age rises to 66 with economic meltdown boosting unemployment, there is a strong case to allow early access to State Pensions.
    •  Many over-60s are unwell, genuinely unable to work, or are caring for others and have no private pension.
    •  Healthy life expectancy across the country varies by around 20 years, so rising State Pension Age hits these least healthy hardest.
    •  Those with long National Insurance records, poor health and no prospect of employment cannot receive any State Pension until age 66. 

     State Pension Age hits 66 on 1st October 2020: Women have been particularly affected by the sharp rise in pension age but there are also many men who will face difficult times as they have to wait longer for their State Pension to start. 

    Healthy life expectancy varies by nearly 20 years in the UK: The rationale for rising state pension age rests on increases in average life expectancy across the UK. However, the average life expectancy masks an enormous difference between regions, occupations and social groups. The most recent figures show an almost 20-year differential in healthy life expectancy in the UK.


    State Pension system makes no allowance for such differentials: Certain regions and occupations have much poorer health and in general the most disadvantaged groups in the population tend to live far shorter lives than others. Currently, the National Insurance pension system does not recognise this.


    Most disadvantaged members of society lose out: The most disadvantaged members of society tend to have 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.


    Private pensions allow early access but many disadvantaged groups rely only on State Pensions: The ever-rising State Pension Age is increasingly disadvantaging those people in poor health– especially women – who have little or no private pension to supplement their National Insurance state pension.

    Covid-19 has worsened the employment prospects and health of many over-60s: The pandemic has seen many over-60s lose their jobs, damaged their health or forced them into caring for loved ones and they are unlikely to be able to work again. Those without a private pension – especially women – need to take their pension early. But even those with very long National Insurance records (far longer than the 35 years needed for a full State Pension) or who have seriously shortened life expectancy, cannot receive a penny of State Pension until age 66 now. Allowing early access, even at a reduced rate, could offer a lifeline to those who want to benefit from their many years of NI contributions, rather than the unrealistic reliance on out-of-work benefits.


    Those who are healthy and wealthy enough can get more State Pension by delaying their state date: The current system favours the healthiest and wealthiest members of society – most of whom are likely to have good private pensions to fall back on if they need to. Those who can afford to wait beyond age 66 or who are physically fit and want to keep working, are able to delay their state date and receive a higher pension. But no allowance is possible for those in the poorest health, with no other income and unable to work, to draw even a reduced amount sooner. I would prefer to see a band of ages whereby those who need it can access their State Pension sooner, subject to minimum contribution requirements and other assessments.


    This is an issue of social justice, as well as social support: As the ;impact of the pandemic on the labour market grows and the nation’s health deteriorates, ensuring the system works more fairly for the least advantaged is worth consideration. 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.

    46 thoughts on “State Pension Age hits 66 – isn’t it time to consider allowing early access for those who desperately need it?

    1. I am 65 had cancer treatment and had to work between chemos to pay mortgage. 1st person in great Britain to have whole of my arm plated and pinned successfully in 1973. Single parent brought up 3 kids alone No benefits. 2 sons in army daughter 1.1degree with honours in midwifery then 2 sons got degrees one a masters. Think I deserved my pension at 60 worked since 15 against all odds but No notice pension stolen survivor again working at 65 and knackered please help x🌹

      1. Tina you should be getting a medal and a gold watch! Btw I recovered from breast cancer in 2011 and brought my children up completely alone with no outside help, financial or otherwise. They would treat animals better than they do elderly women …those who brought them into the world!!!!

        This was my twopenneth on Times Radio last night. I might as well have been talking to Aliens from another planet!!!


    2. I think it would be a good idea if there was a compromise regarding the state pension age. What about reducing it to 63 for both men & women or making it voluntary if you want to retire early. This would free up jobs for the younger generation. It seems crazy to increase it at this time with so many people losing there jobs, older people will struggle to find employment given there age. They say there is no ageism when applying for jobs but believe me there is. Something has to be done.

    3. I have worked 46.5 years, no break in NI, raised 3 children, the eldest severely disabled, had to finish work age 62.5 as disabled son’s condition worsened needing 24 hr care. Think I deserve my pension as I have more than contributed and though I found my manual work role hard I still worked and now have no choice

    4. Yes please..a few years earlier be help…would be able to stop eork hcsw nhs 30+ years..still working hard ..especially these last few years on a covid ward..I am 62..regards

    5. Having an increasingly stressful job in local council affected my health, both mentally and physically. For 10 years I suffered with an increasing amount of migraines, by the last year before I retired I was having at least 3 every week. LA management had become to come down much more heavily on sickness absence, hence I was on strong daily medication, minus additional medication to take at the onset of a migraine. My husband had benn retired since 2011, so in 2014, at age 60, I had to jack it in ie take early retirement. There was no chance of retiring on ill health, that too had been severely restricted. I took a small works pension, and my dear wonderful husband supported me for nearly 6 years. If I’d been on my own there is no way I could have retired. I would have had to claim benefits, or kill myself. There was also no way I could have carried on working much longer. My original intention was to retire at 62, but I couldn’t hang on. All this, after raising 2 children, best part of 10 years on my own. Working part time jobs to fit around my then husbands shifts to cover childcare. And breast cancer, twice. Give us a break. None of us women have had it easy

    6. I have worked since I was 17 and had two children. I have M.E. and have had it since 2000. I had to go onto benefits because I was bed bound most of the time. I couldn’t stand or balance had depression because of it all. My Employer was awful to me and said “If I cant do my 5 hours a day I was useless. That made it worse and down I went again. Because I cannot have my pension for another 3 years. My benefits were taken away as during an assessment he asked for identification and I bent down to pick my bag up so he failed me. Just over 2 years ago I had to find a job in domiciliary which is hard work. Running around from 6.30 to 2 to 3pm. I collapsed at one of the Client’s last Friday. I have been stressed and have Vertigo and I am struggling with just standing yet alone do anything else. I am 63 years old and have another 3 years to go. Not sure I will be able to go to that age. I wouldn’t wish my M.E. life on anyone.

      1. Bloody assessments for benefits,all wrong !!!
        Sorry to read this. We think we are the only one.!
        Sympathise very much.
        63 would be a reasonable age for all.

    7. Yes I would be interested in taking early access option as 64, on my own and struggling to keep going. Coronavirus has meant income so terribly low from work. BUT there is NO WAY I am going to take an early access option IF it means a reduced rate for LIFE! I have 50 years of work record, 47 on FULL contribution (no opt out), so why the hell should I consider reduced for life! It’s not an acceptable solution. We’ve done more than our fair share over the years and been penalised all the way. with lack of equality.

    8. So many others in a similar position to you Tina. It’s a disgrace! So many didn’t make it to 65/66! Life expectancy is not increasing…They use 2011 statistics to justify their robbery of our pensions!

    9. My thoughts entirely ! I have endured years of hardship already, financially and emotionally, too long a story to go on here, but please let me know if you need more information. Thankyou for keeping this going. We live in hope…

    10. I agree totally with this. It seems a sensible action in the circumstances, and brings the state pension in line with the private sector. This will have to be very clearly explained though, because it would involve taking a lesser pension overall. Maybe a lump sum interest free loan on future pension payments might also be possible to help those who are suffering from the change in pension age. It would be nice to get some compensation for the maladministration of all this, but these other suggestions might be more agreeable to the Treasury.

    11. 64, 2 years post cancer treatment, looking after husband 61 with asbestosis and heart problems who retired due to ill health. Plus I care for my mother, 91. I do supply teaching in a school of 1500, but could kill off my husband if I brought Covid home. Consequently I am not working and staying home as much as possible and going to help my mum when needed. I was expecting my pension at 60, would make a huge difference at this point in time.

    12. Wish you had fought for us when you could. 64 yrs old now. 2 further yrs to wait. Health declining by the day. Please God I live to receive my pension. Sadly so many havent. Including my sister who passed at 52 and recently my beloved daughter who died aged 40. I am now raising my granddaughter. I dont know how the Goverment sleep at night. The poor disabled and elderly just are an inconvinence. Suppose they are hoping Covid takes us all out as they see us as expendable.

    13. I have survived breast cancer still working at 64 with the NHS but just recently have had to reduce my hours as exhausted I have raised 4 children mostly on my own have worked since I was 15 I have no pension with the nhs as I only been with them 9 years and could not afford it on my own I just got married 2 years ago my husband is 1 year older than me and he is still working we both need to work to survive it disgusting should be enjoying our life now

    14. 2x cancer no stomach now suffering from parkinsons disease and still 3 years 3 months to go before my pensionable age.

      1. It is a travesty that the stress of not having a pension is added to your troubles.

        You should be able to retire with dignity.

    15. Please PLEASE keep shouting for this Ros Altman. I saw you being interviewed in Parliament Square when we were protesting and have always wished you could have championed our cause more, shouted louder, shamed a certain person who tokd you to shut up and we would go away. Thanks for your support.

    16. I had to retire due to poor health at 60 but as I was born in 1959 I’m not able to draw my state pension,I had no warning of my state pension rising from 60 to 66 years and no time to do a private pension,I struggle every day.

    17. I’m 63 and have been working since I was 15 I’m still working full time I suffer with copd ( severe) also been diagnosed with cancer it would be great if I could get my State pension so I could concentrate on my health I’m finding it very difficult to be working with my health issues

    18. I would like to see a flexible retirement age during these times for everybody over 60 not just those suffering hardship. Many of us already lost our jobs and nobody is interested in steering us into jobs. All the focus will be on the young, which is fine, but give 50’s born women some options. Nobody is counting the number of retirees but everybody will be counting the unemployed.

    19. I have 2 friends that are in poor health one with COPD both age 63 and other friend has bad arthritis both women are carers and they are finding it hard to do this type of work till they reach 66 it’s an injustice both have worked from age 15 so they should be able to get their state pension now due to ill health it’s a liberty making people in this predicament should NOT be forced to carry on something should be done NOW

    20. I think we are entitled to a full pension. Many like myself will have paid in 51 years National Insurance before we get state pension We all struggle at our age in demanding jobs. I wrote to Baroness Altman five years ago via my MP and the reply was not supportive only that is what is decided by government to equalise With men. It seems strange now that you feel you need to support. Once you accept a lower rate from this government it could continue. Sorry no trust in anyone This is what consecutive governments have done to us 50s women

    21. I have worked 47years should have received my pension next month but now have to wait another year. I’ve just lost my job due to massive cuts carer to my elderly frail mother in law suffering with Dementia. And also supporting my husband who has prostrate cancer I’m worn out mentally exhausted depressed.

    22. I totally agree that people in poor health should get their pension earlier. I also think they should revert back the age for both men and women our age group are not living as long as our parents . I have seen people struggle to work . Jobs now don’t have proper sick pay . I have been Disgusted in work conditions since leaving my NHS job

    23. State Pensions were raised supposedly to make them equal with men to 65, and both have now reached 66 and are rising to 67 and so on to an unbelievable 75.
      But men and women have never been equal.
      Women still earn less for doing the same job.
      Many women take time out of their career to have babies and to bring up children. They then often return to work part time to work around the school times. Therefore they don’t reach the top of their career and are lowly paid.
      They still on average do more work unpaid work at home, housework,
      shopping, cooking, looking after the children, on top of working. Obviously men do help, but the woman still do the lions share.
      Some men received Pension Credits at 60.
      Women were not given them which I still don’t understand and this could be rectified.
      Covid-19 has made the over 60’s vulnerable.
      Work place Pensions weren’t introduced when we were young, so for years, we worked but they weren’t there to pay into.
      When they were introduced, many women didn’t earn enough to qualify for them and still don’t qualify.
      That is why many women rely solely on their state pension.
      Wages are often not high enough to live on.
      Many have to rely on top ups from the Government, which fluctuate from year to year.
      Raising the State Pensions Age, therefore gives them no option to retire early.
      We were not warned they were going up, so also could not prepare for it.
      Our State Pensions are a lot lower than those in other Western countries.
      Many of them are now lowering their state pension age.
      Due to the pandemic, many have lost, or will loose their jobs.
      When divorce happens, it’s often the woman that are left with the responsibility of bringing up the children alone. Most divorced men can carry on with their full time career, whilst women with children can’t.
      If you are Widowed young with children, there is very little state help for both sexes and this should be looked into and changed.
      Being a single parent is very tough and comes sadly with a stigma.
      David Cameron took away Employee’s Rights, and since then, employers have been able to hire and fire, at whim, under the guise of redundancy, without needing a reason or going through any warnings.
      When this happens, dealing with the harsh job centre is demeaning.
      The Government have now set up a scheme to help the very young.
      How about letting the over 60’s of both sexes retire at 60, to free up jobs?
      During Covid-19, this Government have decided to treat everyone differently.
      The furloughed, the SEISS scheme and the EXcluded.
      Why they didn’t give everyone the same amount of money to survive, seems very odd, when other countries did just that, including Spain and Italy.
      Again the Northern European countries have treated their citizens better and paid out more.
      The divide between the rich and the poor is widening.
      Our nation is gradually being divided into 4 nations with different laws.
      We need social reform, proportional representation, justice for all and freedom of speech, which we do not have at all. Even our news is gagged.
      Anyone in power that lies, cheats, is greedy and is not working for the good of the national, should be held accountable.
      Our state pensions need reviewing now and compensation given to all those who missed out. Ideally paying for all that they lost out on.
      It was money that was paid into a Pension pot, that was raided.

    24. Ros Altman, you should have been stronger in standing up for women when you were a government minister. I know it’s hard to argue against the prevailing view but what your party has done to millions of women who are now suffering because of your policies is callous and unethical. I am pleased you are speaking out now, but a little too late I am afraid.

      It is women over 50, who are the customers of high streets, and so granting them (and their husband) pension age 60 men and women now, would save town centre local businesses within the new normal of online ordered / home delivered.

      We have now the 1950s women yet to reach 66 (first victims born between 1953 – 1955 have retired). But also men and women born 1960 onwards, now turning 60, have pension age 67 from Labour’s 2007 pension act.

      This lowering of pension age to 60 for men and women, is a permanent solution to this worst global recession in 300 years, that will roll on past 2024, for the UK economy.

      All that happened with pension age rise was a 100 per cent increase of men and women from 60 on benefit, with them amongst the most likely to be long term unemployed.

      We also have the highest number of older working class who are chronic sick / disabled, who fall out of work by the millions from age 50 due to ill health.

      By pension age 60 men and women, that would take millions off the benefit bill, at a time when millions of younger people will be added to that bill.

      With Covid19 now, we cannot shield by age between 60 and 70, despite World Health Organisation informing we are medically old from 60, and are within 95 per cent of global Covid19 deaths by age alone.

      We are now within the 2nd high Covid19 contagion surge, so back to square one as March first big contagion. Peak due end of this month, beginning November.

      The Tory government are back to dumping older people that are Covid19 positive out of NHS hospitals, to the non medical care homes, so leaving them to die (the NHS points system against Covid19 treatment starts from age 60).

      Think tanks are talking about asking people from 45/50, never mind 60, to stay home, but grant no money for them to do so.

      The high redundancy rate, about to get a lost worse, as furlough ends, means people from 50 least likely to find a new job.

      The benefit system will not cope with millions more younger people on it. The return of benefit sanctions means starvation could cause food riots, as foodbanks will not cope, and anyway are not daily feeding stations.

      Due to the high death rate before retirement, and now to older people, the National Insurance Fund must have the biggest surplus in its history.

      Make all 1950s ladies not yet 66, full pensioners on full works and state pension.

      Granting us 1950s women, the 5 years of automatic National Insurance credits given free to men aged between 60 and 65 up til 2018. Whether retired or not.

      You are a Life Peer in House of Lords. Might your influence to Rishi Sunak bring this about please?

    26. There is more complexity here than suggested. Those most in need are also those most likely to be entitled to means-tested benefits. Taking income or capital from pensions can affect that entitlement badly. Some people could see zero gain from the money released early from a pension. The rules are complex and very different for those under pension age and those over that age. It needs, for each individual, an assessment including pension, tax and benefits to provide the information about which of the many options provide the best result. Without such advice, it will be too easy to make the wrong decisions.

      1. Those who know how the benefit system works and agree with transparency would likely agree with this comment. To me the key word is choice. With correct advice in place a person could make informed choices. Equality of age is not a simple solution, Equality of choice beyond a suitable earlier , optional SPA, I feel should be no more than 63, would see those who feel they cannot continue due to health and/or caring responsibilities being given suitable pension/benefits without need for degrading stressful health assessments. No reason why this could not be brought in while keeping the current SPA in place with recipients reverting to SP at 66. I believe further age hikes should be stopped immediately.

    27. Absolutely agree with all these brave folk . Brought up four children , studied to be a midwife when they were of age . Worked as long as I could . Took retirement at 59 as suffering with asthma and COPD to find my pension was taken away that year . Now too ill too work too poor not too , vulnerable to Covid , husband 55 it having all the onus for the family income put on him as I have a very tiny NHS pension . This government needs to seriously rethink its policies as it treats its citizens very badly especially if we are working class . If they can find money for their ‘ projects ‘ they can find money for us to live a decent life and support the local
      Businesses which are suffering from our lack of spending power

    28. I notice that the capping of pensions enforced by George Osborne et al on Women born pre 6.4.53 is still being ignored. This dreadful act was never publicised and certainly never disclosed to the Women it affected. This secret snatch back of money was seen by Government as a ‘major coup’ yet these women, of which I am one, had paid NI in full and completed the required number of years. They, we, were never informed of this and have been repeatedly ignored by campaign groups. Confirming that we were seen as collateral for others gain. To add to this dreadful situation we were forced to work an extra 2 years 3 months. I am now 67, still fighting back like most pre 6.4.53 borns, it has taken 4 years of yearly increases to reach £617 a month ….. despite full contributions and years required, but partly due to being contracted out, which was also kept a secret from most of us. This ‘snatch’ by Government as never been openly discussed in Parliament, and has destroyed the lives of many ….. this needs to be address urgently .

    29. The government has claimed that it needs to review and consequently to extend the age to claim. While your criticisms are both fair and reasonable, you could have made an even stronger claim.
      The DWP says that the pension needs to be sustainable and affordable. The reason that they say this is that they adhere to an economic doctrine that is neither realistic nor true, mainstream neoliberal macroeconomics.
      If I may put it succinctly, because the government operates a fiat currency system with a flexible exchange rate and is the sovereign monopoly currency issuer, pensions are always sustainable and affordable. The government can never run out of money to pay pensions. Ever.
      None of the other macroeconomic claims that Rishi Sunak has recently made about the economy are true either.
      Should you wish to look into this matter further, I recommend Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth and J D Alt’s Paying Ourselves to Save the Planet: A Layman’s Explanation of Modern Money Theory (aka MMT). Alt’s diagrams are superb and the book is about 100 pages.
      Were you to look into MMT, I would be interested in your reactions. Good luck.

    30. Yes, I ‘m one of the women badly affected.
      Born in 1956. Having to wait another 6 years to claim my pension! Then told that although I have over 46 years contribution, cannot claim higher amount of pension as have not completed 2 full years contribution recently due to I’ll health!! What a story!! Come on please give us 50’s women something!

    31. This government does not care about fifties born women . at every step we are blocked no pension till 66 . No cold weather payment not old enough . No bus pass untill pension age.

      WHO says people over 60 vulnerable to covid this government reaction no shielding or furlough only people over 70 .

      Many fifties born women work in retail and other customer based work where they have to see lots of people . They are at high risk of catching covid . A vaccine you say but again fifties born women are way down the list to get this . Instead government is giving it to people who are safe at home while others not reached the magic 66 or have some disease are made to go out and risk their lives. Vaccine roulette in other countries retail transport workers etc are being given the vaccine first but not this government. I seriously think they are. using this excuse to hope covid kills us fifties born women so they don’t have to pay pension out. Having worked all out lives paid into a scheme for our retirement to have snatched away till years later then expendable to covid. I don’t know what this government has against fifties born women it’s like it’s doing everything to not let them have anything to help. By May when we will be able to have the vaccine it will be too late we won’t be here. That’s it our lives over before we even get a penny of what we paid in . Not entitled to any benefits as we are not a certain age . Covid didn’t know age it dosnt know wether someone is 60 or 70 but the government seems to think it does . I would love to be safe at home at least these older people have had a life and retired at 60 us fifties born women don’t and some may never know retirement thanks to covid . I am terrified to go out to work in retail with no protection whereas others a few years older are safe at home don’t have contact with lots of people their risk of getting covid is a lot lower than us that are forced to work we should at least have the vaccine .

    32. This whole pensions injustice is utterly outrageous. I was born at the very star of 1961 and will be virtually 67 when I receive my state pension. I remember receiving my NI Number when I was 16 and the leaflet which accompanied it stated I would receive my state pension at the age of 60. My sister born at the start of 1951 had to wait to 10mths – I have to wait nearly 7 years. It is wrong – totally wrong…

    33. No pension no bus pass no help with cold weather payment . No early flu vaccine as other groups had it . I paid for my flu jab in October i have only just received a letter from the nhs about a free flu jab! Going in that ratio I will not get the covid vaccine till late April if then. 65 in April I go up into a higher group. But too late to get vaccine earlier as cut of date is 31 March. Where goes the government get all these off cut of f dates from.? I think they look at statistics and see that by putting pension age up to 66 October 1st we catch almost 65 s and get them to work another year. WHO says vulnerable to covid at 60 government knows more no it’s 7 0 you must work. Older people given vaccine first when they are safe at home having the luxury of retiring at 60 . The rest of us many in front line jobs made to work. Other countries France USA Israel China are giving working people the vaccine first as they come into contact with lots of people raising the risk of dying from covid ! Fifties born women would love to be at home safe. This government flings money at others. Yet fifties born women paid into a pension for over 40 years only to be told your living too long . Your have to wait till your 66. Young girls who leave school have a baby get given benefits house etc never paid a penny in . Many fifties women go to work on buses but have to pay . Tough we are. told no help with that unless your 66 You have to be born in certain dates to get anything . Unless your in London you get Oyster card . Wales Scotland retire at 60 free bus pass as well. Penalised for being born in England in the 1950’s . I am sure treasury is ecstatic and even more so when fifties women die of covid all that pension money they will save . Never has a generation of women been so badly treated used and abandoned.by their government!!! . We are like the fifties born suffragettes fighting for our pension right . We won’t give up despite this money grabbing government trying to bring us down .

    34. I totally agree with all ads posted on here I am 61 have had 2 heart attacks, Multiple Organ Failure and also COPD. I live alone could not survive on benefits I work 30 hrs a week to keep my head above water was going to drop an hour a day but worked out there was no way I could afford this.

      I am sure this having to work till your 66 is leading to a lot of depression I know it is with me.

      Does the Government not consider the older ones working till 66 are keeping the young fit and healthy out of work.
      Utterly appauling

    35. I have been working hard manual labour since I was 16 ,I am now 64 years of age in my working life I have had a slipped disc sciatica a bad knee a hernia operated on twice and still have it my job now still means I sometimes have to lift heavy loads
      I have had a heart attack and have developed diabetes .
      Plus all the mental stress of my job
      I have anxiety and stress and suffer panic attacks
      I would love to retire before 66 but can’t see a way out of there was I would leave tomorrow and give the young ones a chance

    36. People are popping off like mad before they see any state pension at all. I’ve personally seen so many examples of this, many in their early-late 50s, but once into one’s sixties, this takes on a pace.
      It’s obscene to treat people in their sixties in such a way, it is robbing them of their dignity as well as their pensions! The French model would be far more humane giving access to state pension at 62.

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