Act now as the pensions timebomb goes tick-tock...

One hundred and twenty isn't a very big number, but if you're in your mid-50s, that's how many pay-days you have left. It's said that retirement is the longest holiday of your life and these days, it's getting even longer. Most people can expect to live until nearly 90, meaning many of us will be funding a retired life that's almost as long as our working life.
Planning for that period takes time and money, but many are clueless when it comes to understanding the complexities of pensions. Eoin McGee of Prosperous Financial Services and presenter of RTÉ's How To Be Good With Money, says getting your facts together long before you're handed the gold watch is essential. "You need to find out what you have already a good five years out. A financial adviser can do this via a letter of authority which s/he can send to all pension providers and check if there are any benefits in your name.

"Most people will have changed jobs or career many times. I'm always shocked by how many pensions people have forgotten about. They worked somewhere a short time, there might only be €10,000 in a fund - but by now, it could be worth €50,000.

"It's never too late to start a pension," he adds. "Even the day before you retire, it's worth it for the tax breaks and efficiency. If you're still earning an income in your 60s, as many self-employed are, you can still contribute to a pension plan.

"There's never a bad time when turning six into 10 doesn't make sense," he says of the generous tax reliefs allowed on contributions.

What type of pension could you have?
There are a variety of pension types you may be eligible for:

State Non-Contributory: This is the most basic, means-tested 'old age' pension. It is paid to people who have not got sufficient PRSI contributions, or any privately funded pension. It's currently €232 per week, from age 66.

State Contributory: Based on PRSI contributions, at its maximum, it's worth €243.30pw from age 66, rising to age 67 in 2021.

Occupational Scheme: If you worked for a company that had a pension plan in place, whether or not the employer contributed to it, you may have a pension entitlement. Pensions are rarely allowed to be 'cashed in' before retirement, so the fund may still be 'ring fenced' for you.

Personal/PRSA: If you were self-employed, or worked for a company with no pension scheme, you may have had a personal pension plan. Insurers will have records based on your name, date of birth and PPS number.

Courtesy of Independent.ie