FROM this month, no one will qualify for their state pension on their 65th birthday, but millions of people are in the dark about just how long they will have to wait.

According to Age UK, a quarter of those aged between 50 and 64 do not know when they will become eligible.

Despite several years of high-profile media coverage of how changes to the state pension age (SPA) will affect women in particular, the charity found that three million workers approaching retirement could not say when their payments would begin.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: “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.”

Half of those who did not know their SPA said it was an unpleasant surprise when it was revealed as part of the charity’s research, because it was higher than they had anticipated.

Among those who claimed to know their SPA, one in 10 found they would have to wait longer than they expected, while almost a third of those surveyed admitted they had either never checked or could not recall when they had checked their SPA.

The age at which women qualify has risen from 60 in 2010 to match men’s qualification age of 65 this year. From 6 December, it will creep up for both men and women until it reaches 66 in October 2020 and 67 in March 2028.

The reason for the changes is increasing longevity. When the state pension was introduced in 1948, a 65-year-old could typically expect to live another 13.5 years. By last year, this had gone up to 22.8 years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, this means that, even with the SPA adjustments, between 2017 and 2042 the number of people receiving the state pension will grow from 12.4 million to 16.9 million.

Almost six out of ten 50-to-64 year olds surveyed for Age UK felt very negatively about the SPA rises, with well over a third saying they were disappointed, a third angry and one in seven worried.

And the outlook is even gloomier for younger workers. The SPA is expected to increase to 68 between 2037 and 2039, although this could be brought forward.

Ms Abrahams said: “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.”

One in eight men and one in five women aged 55 to 65 have no private or workplace provision, leaving them with nothing to supplement their state payments when they stop work.

The maximum weekly payout is currently £164.35 a week, or £8,546.20 a year, which will rise by just over 2.5 per cent to £168.60, or £8,767.20, next April.

This falls far short of the £26,000 consumers’ organisation Which? calculates is required to provide a comfortable lifestyle in old age.

And many people will not even qualify for this amount. Only those who have made 35 full years of national insurance contributions will receive the full state pension.

Those with a shorter NI record could get considerably less. A retiree who had made 20 years of payments might receive only £96 a week.

To avoid living in poverty after giving up work, experts typically recommend putting away at least 12% of income. For someone earning £30,000, this would mean saving £300 a month.

If you are not already contributing to a workplace pension scheme, to benefit from your employer’s additional contributions, begin as soon as possible.

If you are not eligible, consult an independent adviser about starting a private plan. Check the performance of your savings regularly and increase what you put away as necessary.

To find out when you will qualify for the state pension and how much you might get, visit

If you have gaps in your NI record, you can make additional voluntary contributions to improve your entitlement. For more on this, see

To work out how the total income your state and work or personal pensions might generate, and what further saving could be worth, there is a calculator at

Anyone concerned about their retirement income or state pension age can call Age UK free on 0800 169 6565, visit or contact their local branch.