Pension benefits from a defined contribution pension scheme (from 6 April 2015)

Produced by Tolley

The following Personal Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Pension benefits from a defined contribution pension scheme (from 6 April 2015)
  • Introduction
  • Ways in which benefits can be taken from defined contribution pensions
  • Scheme pension
  • Lifetime annuity
  • Drawdown
  • Flexible access
  • Flexi-access drawdown
  • Comparing flexi-access drawdown with UFPLS
  • More...

Pension benefits from a definedcontribution pension scheme (from 6 April 2015)


The structure of tax law in relation to registered pension schemes defines certain payments as ‘authorised’ member payments which generally attract no tax charge, and ‘unauthorised’ member payments which are subject to tax.

There are limits to authorised member payments and certain conditions that must be met in respect of some of them.

Since 6 April 2015, pensions ‘freedom’ means that pension funds from definedcontribution (also known as money purchase) arrangements are much more accessible than they previously were but minimum age or other access restrictions (such as being in serious ill health if seeking to access funds before the minimum age) still apply.

For the rules up to 5 April 2015, see the Benefits available from definedcontribution pension schemes up to 5 April 2015 guidance note.

Defined benefit arrangements remain subject to tighter restrictions. In some circumstances, members may be able to transfer from a definedbenefit scheme to a money purchase arrangement if they wish to access their funds under pensions freedom. This is, however, a strictly regulated area of advice. As with all pensions matters, great care should be taken not to stray into it if you are neither suitably qualified nor authorised. See the Regulated investment advice guidance note.

Readers are also directed to the Pensions glossary of terms guidance note, which explains some of the common terms in use.

Ways in which benefits can be taken from definedcontribution pensions

Members of an occupational definedcontribution scheme may take pension benefits in the form of a scheme pension, a lifetime annuity or income drawdown.

Scheme pension

The pension is provided from the registered pension scheme or from an insurance company selected by the scheme administrator. A scheme pension may be guaranteed for a certain term not exceeding 10 years. So if the member dies before that term has ended, the scheme pension will continue to be paid regardless of the end of the guarantee period,

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