We all hope to live long, healthy lives. The trouble is that more and more of us are actually doing it. As the UK population shifts toward longer active life expectancy, we’re also facing the prospect of spending more of our so-called “golden years” in work. The days of men retiring at 65 are already on the way out. By October 2020, the age you can collect your State Pension will have risen to 66. By 2028 it’ll have hit 67, before rising again to 68 by 2037.

The trouble, as the government sees it, is that they were starting to pay out pension payments to people for longer than they’d been paying into the system. Our stubborn refusal to die on schedule was putting a dent in the public finances. As a result, State Pension ages are on the rise.

What’s the current State Pension Age?

The first big leap in retirement age has already been and gone – although only about half of us would have noticed. Back in November 2018, women approaching their normal retirement age of 60 suddenly had a massive 5 years dumped onto their working lives. That half-decade of extra work was designed to bring them in line with the standard retirement age for men, but for many it was a very nasty shock.

The changes didn’t stop there, though. The Pensions Act 2011 slaps another year onto everyone’s retirement age as of October this year, bringing it up to 66. After that, the Pensions Act 2014 kicks in, raising the age to 67 after the 6th of April 2028. By 2037, if nothing else changes, people will be expected to keep on working until they turn 68 before claiming their pensions.

What does this all mean for workers?

Obviously, how much of a kick in the teeth the higher retirement age will be depends on the work you do. UK construction, for instance, already has an ageing workforce, with the over-60 bracket increasing faster than any other and a lack of new blood entering the trade. Squeezing a couple more years out of the existing workforce could make a big difference to the industry, but it’ll naturally take a toll on the workers. Expecting people deep into their 60s to shoulder the same loads as they did 3 decades earlier might be unrealistic and unfair, but automation and new technologies like 3D printing and bricklaying machines have definite parts to play. As construction work gets safer and less dependent on demanding physical labour, age becomes less of a barrier.

What will employers do about an ageing workforce?

While attitudes toward employing older people are starting to move in the right direction, employers are really going to need to update their thinking. In the future, people may well start looking to change careers much later in life than they used to, for example, with apprenticeships already looking like viable prospects for many older workers. The government keeps making noises about how to “recruit, retain and retrain” older workers, but that won’t help much if employers can’t learn to look past a candidate’s age.

As things stand, 20% of EU employees say that their age is the biggest stumbling block in their careers. Those negative stereotypes about older workers need to go if we want to stop decades of experience going to waste.

Will the new pension age affect what I have to live on?

In the UK, tens of thousands of people are now reaching retirement age with no private pensions or savings. For those people, the state pension will be their only lifeline. That's why it's so important to know where you stand. Whether you're just starting out, approaching retirement or looking to boost your skills and work longer, getting your pension savings in order is Job One.

If you’re already claiming a pension, whether or not you're still working, you may need to submit a Self Assessment tax return to HMRC. Find out more about pensions and Self Assessment, or use our quick tax returns calculator to get a quote for RIFT to do it for you.

Most importantly, whatever questions you have about tax rebates or tax returns, remember you can always talk to RIFT. We may all be working longer for our pensions, but there's no reason to over-feed the taxman while we do it.