Can I live off the State Pension?

First published 12 October 2017 • Updated 23 August 2019

The government provides a small State Pension – a guaranteed income for life – to all eligible people once they reach a certain age. However, you should think of this as a top-up to your other income, as on its own it is usually not enough to live on.

Am I eligible? How much could I receive?

You are eligible for the State Pension provided that you have at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance (NI) record. How much you receive also depends on your National Insurance record – the maximum amount is currently £168.60 per week. You need to have paid NI contributions for 35 years to qualify for the full amount.

If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you will receive the old State Pension instead, which may be a different amount.

When can I start drawing my State Pension?

The State Pension age is currently 65 for both men and women, but may be different depending on when you were born. You can check your State Pension age on the government’s website.

The State Pension age is expected to increase to 68 from around 2044.

Can I still work?

Of course! You can carry on working and earning once you’ve passed State Pension age, but you’ll no longer pay National Insurance after this point. Just remember that the State Pension still counts as income, so could be subject to tax depending on how much other income you continue to earn.

If you’re in this position, talk to a financial adviser to make sure you’re not wasting some of your State Pension in tax. It may make sense to scale back your hours or find another solution.

Should I wait before taking my State Pension?

If you choose not to take your State Pension from the State Pension age, the amount you’re entitled to will gradually rise. For every year you delay it, the amount you can receive will rise by around 5.8 per cent.

You might choose to do this if you were still working and didn’t want to lose State Pension money in tax. However, this is something to discuss with your financial adviser, as it may still be in your best interests to take the money and bank it even if you don’t need to spend it yet.

To find out how to increase your overall income in retirement, visit our Saving for Retirement page.

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About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.