Skip to content
Please donate

1 in 4 people aged 50 to 64 don't know their State Pension age

Published on 03 December 2018 12:28 PM

Many people are unaware they'll receive their State Pension later than they think, warns Age UK.

1 in 4 people (24 per cent) aged between 50 and 64 years – nearly 3 million people[i] – don't know what their State Pension age (SPA) is, according to new research by YouGov for the charity Age UK.[ii]

Released ahead of Thursday 6 December, after which no one – neither men nor women – will be able to receive their State Pension on their 65th birthday, the findings reveal widespread confusion about SPA, even among those who are quite near it. This is despite recent high profile campaigning and media reports highlighting the enormous impact on some women of increases in female SPA since 2010.

Nearly a fifth of all those surveyed (18%) found their actual SPA is higher than expected after it was shown to them as part of the research. Amongst those who had previously said they didn't know their SPA, this rocketed to 52%. Even among those who had professed to know their SPA, nearly 1 in 10 (9%) discovered the age at which they will actually receive their State Pension is higher than they thought. And worryingly, 3 in 10 of those surveyed had either never checked or couldn't recall when they had checked their SPA.

The speed at which female SPA has risen – from 60 in 2010 to 65 in 2018 – has hit millions of women hard, leaving them with very little time to re-adjust their retirement plans. Many women have been left in hardship as they struggle to manage without the State Pension and, for some, the benefits they were counting on after a lifetime of working in low-paid or part-time jobs. Yet from tomorrow, millions of women will have to endure an even longer wait for their State Pension – this time joined by men for the first time – as the SPA continues on its course to reach 67 by 2028 for both men and women.[iii]

Almost 3 out of 5 (58%) of those surveyed for Age UK felt very negatively about the changes,[iv] with well over a third (37%) disappointed, a third (31%) angry and 1 in 7 (14%) worried.

While thankfully most people will live to 67 and beyond, there are many – particularly men in more deprived areas and those on low incomes – who are unlikely to make it to their SPA in good health. Of those who said they do not expect to be working in the 2 years leading up to SPA,[v] 29% cited health reasons, 17% cited likely unemployment, and 5% cited caring responsibilities as the main reasons.

Among those surveyed in the C2DE 'working class' demographic, ill health was a particular concern, with nearly half (47%) of this group citing this as a reason why they didn't expect to be working up to their SPA. This is supported by ONS data showing that in the most deprived 10% of areas of England, healthy life expectancy at birth is just 51.9 years for men and 51.8 years for women – nearly 15 years below the current SPA.[vi] 

Age UK is warning that many people – typically manual workers, carers and those who are unemployed – are likely to experience real hardship as a result of the continued increase in SPA, made worse still if they are expecting to receive their State Pension sooner than they actually will. In an effort to mitigate this, Age UK is calling on the government to offer much better support and many more opportunities so that people are able to stay in a job that works for them until they reach their SPA. The Charity is also urging people to check their SPA at

However Age UK is also urging the government to recognise that working up to SPA is just not possible for everyone. For those who really cannot continue working until their SPA, Age UK is urging the government to allow early access to the State Pension to help those who are most in need.[vii] Long-term carers and those with health problems who have little prospect of being able to work again should be able to access their State Pension early, up to 3 years before people in this position reach SPA.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's Charity Director, says:

"Clearly there is still much confusion about the age at which people can expect to receive their State Pension and our worry is that many who have few resources to fall back on are in for a nasty shock.

"At Age UK we think the most pressing and immediate concern is the hundreds of thousands of people in their 50s and 60s who are unable to carry on working today, and who are really struggling financially as a result. We are thinking, for example, of lifelong manual workers crippled by arthritis and carers who have given up work to look after an ailing partner or parent, and who face the prospect of being totally broke as they wait to claim their State Pension.

"The government needs to do much more to help people in this position now. More support should be given to those who are badly affected by increases in SPA, like men and women earning low wages who are completely or mainly reliant on the State Pension to get by in retirement. We urge the government to allow early access to the State Pension for those who effectively have had no choice but to stop working before they reach their SPA."

Anyone who is concerned about their retirement income or State Pension age can call the Age UK advice line free of charge on 0800 169 6565, visit or contact their local Age UK for further information.

Notes to editors:

Age UK is a national charity that works with a network of partners, including Age Scotland, Age Cymru, Age NI and local Age UKs across England, to help everyone make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.

In the UK, the Charity helps more than seven million older people each year by providing advice and support.  It also researches and campaigns on the issues that matter most to older people. Its work focuses on ensuring that older people: have enough money; enjoy life and feel well; receive high quality health and care; are comfortable, safe and secure at home; and feel valued and able to participate.

Age UK’s subsidiary charity, Age International, supports older people globally in over 30 developing countries by funding programmes such as vital emergency relief and healthcare and campaigning to raise awareness and change policies.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and registered company number 6825798). Charitable services are provided through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s Community Interest Company (CiC) (registered company number 1102972) which donates its net profits to Age UK (the Charity)


Ref: swaklfewjvca

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2010 adults, of which 1040 were aged 50 to 64 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken from 21st - 23rd November 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Additional info about the State Pension: The State Pension has recently undergone several major policy changes. In 2016, a new single tier State Pension was introduced, marginally above the level of Pension Credit, and is currently £164.35 per week (full rate 2018/19). In 2011 the triple lock was implemented, which increases both the basic State Pension and new State Pension each year by the higher of the growth in average earnings, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) or 2.5%. However, the triple lock guarantee is of greater benefit to pensioners who reached State Pension age after April 2016.

[i] Age UK’s estimate of the number of people in the UK who do not know their SPA extrapolated from YouGov polling using ONS mid-year population estimates for 2017 (source).There were an estimated 12.101 million people aged 50-64 living in GB, leading to estimate of 2.918 million not knowing their SPA.

[ii] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2010 adults, of which 1040 were aged 50 to 64 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken from 21st - 23rd November 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[iii] See source.

[iv] All people who responded to the YouGov question asking people how they felt about changes to SPA that they felt disappointed, angry, worried or shocked.

[v] 41 per cent of all those surveyed

[vi] Office for National Statistics estimates from 2014-2016 Annual Population Survey data, see source

[vii] Age UK is calling for the government to allow early access to their State Pension to anyone who is within three years of SPA and either 1) claiming Employment and Support Allowance, 2) claiming Carer’s Allowance, and 3) has been unemployed for two years or more, to be given early access to their State Pension.

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well-being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

Share this page

Last updated: Feb 05 2024

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top