What is Considered ‘Flexible Access’ for Pension Benefits?

I am getting myself up to speed with all the changes in the pension legislation in the 2015 Budget and I want to make sure I am clear on what flexible pension access actually means and the types of pension it impacts.

Question asked by Gareth Small

Under the current rules, ‘flexibly accessing’ your pension benefits covers:

  • Taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum (UFPLS) or a standalone lump sum;
  • Having flexible drawdown before 6 April 2015;
  • Taking an income payment from a drawdown plan set up (or converted to flexible drawdown) after 5 April 2015;
  • Exceeding the income limits from a drawdown plan set up before 6 April 2015;
  • Taking an income payment from a scheme pension with 12 or fewer members or from a flexible annuity;

However, it does not include:

  • Taking tax-free cash and no income;
  • Taking a pension as a ‘small pot’ (i.e. less than £10,000 in value);
  • Taking income from a ‘capped drawdown’ plan set up before 6 April 2015, which remains within the capped limits;
  • Taking a pension as an annuity or scheme pension.
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