Getting the most from your pension

To get the best out of your pension, read our questions to ask and dos and don’ts below. You should also keep tabs on your pension so you know how it is performing.

Questions to ask

  • Am I eligible to join an employer pension plan?
  • What kind of income do I want when I retire, over and above the state pension? How much do I need to contribute to reach my ‘pension target’?
  • What fees and charges will I pay both initially and yearly? Will my contributions increase each year in line with inflation?
  • Which investment funds can I choose from? Can I switch between funds? Will I be charged for this?
  • How will my money be invested if I don’t choose an investment fund?
  • What is the estimated future value of my pension, assuming a set rate of fund growth each year?
  • Are there any death-in-service or disability benefits for me?
  • How flexible is my plan? Can I stop paying contributions for a time, or increase or reduce my contributions? Will there be a charge if I do this?
  • Do I need to provide a pension for my dependants after I die?
  • Have I any other assets I can use in retirement such as investment property, savings or investments?

Dos and don’ts

Dos

  • Do make sure you join your employer pension plan if you are eligible to do so
  • Do start saving for your pension as early as you can. The sooner you start, the better your chances of building a large fund for your retirement and the less you will have to save each month.
  • Do consider an employer’s pension benefits when changing jobs
  • Do ask your employer to make a standard Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) available to you if there is no employer pension plan in place or if you can’t join it within the first six months of your service
  • Do ask about making Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) if you are in an employer pension plan and need to boost your pension. If you are a member of the public sector superannuation scheme you should ask about purchasing notional service and also compare the benefits of AVCs and buying notional service particularly if you will not have 40 years’ service at retirement age. You can get more details from Irish Civil Service Pensions Information Centre.
  • Do keep up to date on how your pension is performing. Ask for regular valuations if you do not already receive them.
  • Do find out how much you will pay in charges, both initially and yearly, before buying a pension. If you are unsure, ask your pension provider or financial advisor to explain the charges fully to you.
  • Do check whether or not you are eligible for the state pension by contacting the Department of Social Protection.

Don’ts

  • Don’t assume your fund is on track to meet your pension needs. Review it regularly and increase your contributions if you need to and if you can afford it.
  • Don’t be put off by jargon. Ask questions and take time to understand the issues so that you make the right decisions for your future.
  • Don’t feel pressurised into buying a pension plan from a life insurance or investment company or a financial advisor just because you have asked them for information or advice.
  • Don’t forget about pensions that you had before, for example, a work pension that you had with an old employer. Contact the administrator of your old pension, find out the value of your fund and see whether you can transfer the value into a new pension.

Keeping tabs on your pension

Once you have set up your pension, it is important to regularly review your pension plan to see how it is performing, especially to make sure you are contributing enough to give you the income you need at retirement. This is particularly important if you have a plan. You should also check that your charges are in line with your pension contract.

You should receive a statement at least once a year from your pension provider which sets out the current status of your pension.

Employer Pension Plan PRSA Personal Pension Plan
Personal benefit statement once a year. An annual statement of ‘reasonable projection’, showing the pension benefits that you can expect to get from your PRSA at retirement. If you took out a personal pension plan after February 2001, your pension provider must send you a statement at least once a year.
A six-monthly report on the performance of your PRSA fund.
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