Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Long Goodbye beckons

One of today's tasks is to fill in a form that the Pension Service have sent me. This is to obtain another State Pension forecast. I can estimate what it should be pretty closely, but now that I'm post-GRC, and 'female' contribution and payment rules apply, my assumptions may be a little off! Apart from that, having commenced contributions in 1970, there are some historical complications that affect the net amount of my State Pension in small ways. So it's best to enquire.

Although the Pension won't begin until November 2014, when I'm 62, that moment is not so far away. I have in fact regarded myself as 'a pensioner' ever since retirement from my job in 2005. But I got out at 52, which frankly felt a bit young! Especially as I looked like someone in their forties. I thought (on appearances) that I'd be regarded as a lazy, job-shy layabout. Maybe even a benefit fraudster. The truth - that I'd worked non-stop for 35 years since 18, had never claimed a penny in benefits, and was not doing any such thing now - wasn't obvious to a casual glance. I braced myself to explain in vain to stick-wagging old codgers. And end up being stigmatised, especially by those old enough to have Fought In The War. 

In fact there was no such social tut-tutting. But then I went out of my way not to gloat or exult about enjoying a life of leisure on an ample Civil Service Pension. That helped to keep people's feathers unruffled.

Believe me, I respected older people. I thought they had a lot to put up with, and didn't deserve bad behaviour and mockery - real or assumed - from young retirees. I had the example of my very own parents, and several much older people that I'd known, to show me that after 60 the Long Goodbye began in earnest. At first, by little degrees, so that there wasn't much amiss at 70, but by 80 you were beginning to live on borrowed time. 90 was attainable with luck and good health, but beyond that life was getting to be unsatisfactory, with immobility issues to contend with,  contemporary friends and family dead or unreachable, and a general feeling that more or different things could have been done with the active years. It is a sad truism that the wisdom of old age comes too late to be of much practical use. I haven't forgotten the poet John Betjeman's regret in his last days that he'd not had 'more sex'. He'd had many experiences of the mind, but had missed out on something basic and physical, an important aspect of life as a human being. At least he could laugh about it; but there's a lesson in his remark.  

So completing this Pension Forecast form will, in its small way, fix my attention on the years ahead, and where they lead to. Years not to be frittered away on silly things. At least, despite all the happenings of the past three or four years, I feel steeled and well-prepared to face whatever may be in store. And here's a fresh thought: who has the better time in old age? Old gentlemen, or old ladies? I reckon that there's more scope for having a ball as an old lady. Well, that's a bit of luck!  Funny how it all came right in the end.


  1. Only 35 years Lucy? Gosh I've been at it for 50 this summer and like yourself, never been out of work and never claimed any social support. I should seriously think of retiring though I suppose. About your pension, are you sure your new status will affect what you receive by any large amount? It depends on what you've contributed of course. You need to have paid NI for forty years to get a full pension at whatever rate is applicable. If your contributions from work equalled 35 and you continued to pay until the forty years were up that would take it up to 2010 by your reckoning. So that should mean your contributions would have been paid in full and you should get the full pension you are entitled to, or am I missing the point here?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. No, I expect to get the full pension, for which only 30 years were needed following the FA 2007 - although to provide for a widow's/partner's/dependent's pension (this doesn't affect me) I would need to top up my years from 35 to 40.

    I just want to check the current expectation, as the last Forecast was in 2008, in pre-GRC days!


  3. Duuh. I mean the Pension Act 2007, not the Finance Act 2007. There, senile already!


  4. I think that you are right to enjoy your retirement as you do. It's not as if you sit at home moping.

    I'm just hoping there is some money left for when I retire... had a nice letter from Barclays Bank where I worked for a few years when I left school. There pension seems to be a lot more generous than I thought it would be.


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