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The state pension age is currently 66, but it will not remain this way for long, as plans to increase this to 67 and subsequently 68, have already been laid out. Reports have suggested these increases could be accelerated, although the DWP has stated “no decision” has been made yet on the matter.
With a rising state pension age, many Britons will feel it is necessary to remain in the workforce for longer.
However, for those who find work a challenge due to deteriorating health, a higher state pension age could present a problem.
Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Jonathan Seed, scheme actuary and head of pension strategy at Cartwright, who touched upon a new way to support ill Britons.
Mr Seed highlighted the widening gap in life expectancy in different areas of the country, and suggested a potential solution.
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A life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived areas continues to grow, according to the latest data from the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities.
For example, the average life expectancy in the North East is 77 for a man and 81 for a woman. The gap between most and least deprived quintiles is 10.4 years for a man and 8.1 for a woman.
Whereas, in the South West, average life expectancy is 80 for a man and 83.8 for a woman, and the gap between most and least deprived quintiles is 6.3 and 4.7 years respectively.
While this may be difficult to tackle, the expert stated a formal approach could help those who retire early due to a variety of challenges.
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Mr Seed continued: “A bridging payment or a means-tested payment might be a worthwhile avenue to explore.
“This would make sure people who have to stop working for health reasons would be supported.
“You could argue it is good people in their 60s are working if they are healthy enough to do so – it can be good physically and mentally.
“But equally, you need to look after the people who just aren’t able to work.
“In deprived regions, that is a group the Government should be looking at – to ensure these people can get by and live decently.”
At present, the earliest a person can get their state pension is when they reach state pension age – and it is not possible to receive this earlier, even due to ill health.
However, some Britons might be entitled to other forms of support, such as statutory sick pay, or disability benefits.
Withdrawal from personal pensions can usually be taken after the age of 55, but early withdrawal may be permitted due to ill health.
A DWP spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “No decision has been taken on changes to the state pension age.
“The Government is required by law to regularly review the state pension age and the review will be published later this year.”