Taking Retirement Benefits from your SSAS

An Overview

If you are aged over 50, you can receive free, impartial guidance from the government, go to Pension Wise, a service provided by MoneyHelper, website https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/pensions-and-retirement/pension-wise or alternatively phone them on 0800 138 3944 to arrange an appointment for a free guidance meeting.  If you prefer a face-to face appointment call 0800 138 1585.  Before taking any benefits we also strongly recommend you seek advice from your Independent Financial Adviser. 

Cash warning

50% or more cash investment is not likely to provide your long term objectives, clients can shop around, this is a reminder that guidance and advice are available from FCA regulated advisers. Please find below an example showing how inflation would affect a £10K pot over 5 years. If you have 50% or more in cash, long-term this is unlikely to grow sufficiently to meet your objectives. Example: Goods and services costing £10,000 in 2010 would cost £13,112.60 in 2020 based on inflation averaging at 2.7% a year. (This information has been obtained from the Bank of England inflation calculator). Please use the below link to the MoneyHelper website to understand and compare your investment pathway options (for pension drawdown), you will need to know your current pension pot and have your date of birth available.


You can take benefits from your SSAS any time after age 55, the normal minimum pension age will rise to age 57 from April 2028.  You can use the assets in your SSAS to provide some or all of the following benefits:

Tax-free cash

From 6 April 2024 restricted to the lump sum allowance (LSA). The maximum LSA for tax year 2024-2025 is £268,275 (for some individuals with personalised protection, this may be higher). The new LSA test calculations take into consideration previous lifetime allowance usage. There is also a second new test carried out on payment of pension commencement lump sum (tax-free lump sum) called the Lump sum and death benefit allowance (LS&DBA) test. This is a test on your tax free lump sums during your lifetime and on any tax-free lump sum death benefits. The maximum under the LS&DBA test is £1,073,100 (for some individuals with personalised protection this may be higher).  It may be possible to draw more than 25% tax free cash in certain circumstances.  We always recommend speaking to a regulated financial adviser prior to drawing pension benefits.


You can buy an annuity from an insurance company. Comparison quotes.  

Annuity purchase will always be an option for paying retirement benefits.  There is now some added flexibility to annuities. Lifetime Annuities are allowed to reduce as well as increase. These are known as Flexible Annuities. The maximum guarantee period of 10 years has been removed so any length of guarantee period can be included in an annuity. Short term annuity options are still available.

Capped Drawdown

Although many people wish to cut back on work as they get older, few can afford to completely retire as early as they would like.   Many people therefore work part time as they reach their 50's and 60's, getting the best of both worlds - more free time and a continued, albeit reduced, income stream.

Taking an annuity at age 55 can offer security, but isn't the most flexible option for those early years of retirement. Your requirements at 55 are likely to be very different from those at 77, and many people are not ready to lock into the fixed terms of an annuity so early on.

Drawdown offers you more flexibility and is allowed from age 55 years onwards.  There are two types of Drawdown available: Capped Drawdown and Flexi-Acess Drawdown (see below). 

To calculate how much you can draw from your SSAS via Capped Drawdown, please see our Capped Drawdown Calculator.

Care is required: While drawdown offers a lot of benefits, it is important that clients also consider the risks.  Your pension remains invested during drawdown.  You choose the investments and need to monitor them over time. If they perform poorly, your fund value will be affected.  If you are taking large amounts of income each year and your investments are falling in value, you could find yourself quickly depleting the fund, and in the worst case it could run out entirely leaving you with no income in later retirement.  It is also  important at this stage to ensure that there is sufficient cash in the fund to pay your benefits, and that there is not too much tied up in illiquid investments yielding insufficient income. 

The trustees can structure their investments under the SSAS to suit the member's drawdown requirements.  Remember we do not provide financial advice.  

You can continue in Capped Drawdown if you were taking drawdown pre April 2015.

If a pension of 150% of the HMRC maximum entitlement (broadly equivalent to what an annuity would provide) is exceeded (ie the maximum allowable via Capped Drawdown, see our calculator) it automatically converts to Flexi-Access Drawdown which reduces your annual allowance to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) of £10,000 pa tax year 2024-2025, so care must be taken. 

Further units can be crystallised into Capped Drawdown if you were taking this prior to April 2015.  If you commenced Capped Drawdown prior to 5th April 2015 (starting Capped Drawdown is no longer available) you can use SSAS assets to provide you with a regular income using this method. This can be varied to suit your tax requirements and personal needs. You must take between 0% and 150% of your HMRC-allowed entitlement (the actual amount you can take depends on your fund value and age).  So long as you draw a pension within the government limits your annual allowance will remain at the prevailing maximum of £60,000 pa tax year 2024-2025 without reverting to £10,000 pa tax year 2024-2025.  For the situation on death please click here

Capped Drawdown allows a pension to be paid up to a maximum amount every year.   The maximum is set at 150% of the GAD (Government Actuary Department) rates.  The maximum income limits are reviewed every 3 years before age 75 and annually after age 75.   Any income drawn from your SSAS by way of Capped Drawdown is subject to income tax, as indeed is any pension income. 

Capped Drawdown is NOT an available option for people drawing retirement benefits for the first time after April 2015.

A Capped Drawdown Fund can be converted to a Flexi-Access Drawdown Fund in order to be able to make unrestricted pension withdrawals from the fund (subject to income tax at the marginal rate of the pensioner). Anyone who has partially crystallised their funds before April 2015 (i.e. Partial/Phased Retirement, see below) and is receiving Capped Drawdown from the crystallised portion of their fund, can crystallise the balance of their fund to pay Capped Drawdown if they wish. 

Use our Capped Drawdown Calculator to determine the maximum income available from Capped Drawdown.

Flexi-Access Drawdown

You can take as little or as much income as required.

You pay marginal rate tax on all withdrawals.

A tax free lump sum of 25% of the member’s accumulated fund can be paid. The balance of the fund becomes a Flexi-Access Drawdown Fund. There are no restrictions on the amount or frequency of withdrawals that can be made from the Flexi-Access Drawdown Fund. Income tax at the member’s marginal rate is payable on Flexi-Access withdrawals. This tax need to be deducted at source and we can arrange this for £200 + VAT pa per member. 

Those receiving Capped Drawdown (see above) can convert to Flexi-Access Drawdown should they wish (for example, if they want to receive withdrawals in excess of their maximum Capped Drawdown). Those with Flexible Drawdown funds prior to April 2015 will automatically become Flexi-Access Drawdown Funds. This introduces some advantages regarding pension contributions. 

Please note that if you take benefits via Flexi-Access drawdown your annual allowance reduces to £10,000 pa tax year 2024-2025.

Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum

This is paid from 'uncrystallised' funds, ie funds from which no benefits have previously been derived. 

25% of the pot is taken tax free,  75% is taxed as income.

From 6 April 2024, the tax-free part of this payment is subject to the Lump sum allowance (LSA) test and the Lump sum and death benefit allowance (LS&DBA) test. The calculations take into consideration previous Lifetime Allowance usage. The maximum LSA for tax year 2024-2025 is £268,275 (for some individuals with personalised protection this may be higher). The maximum LS&DBA for tax year 2024-2025 is £1,073,100 (for some individuals with personalised protection this may be higher).

As an alternative to drawdown, a member can simply choose to withdraw a lump sum from their accumulated pension fund.  Of each lump sum paid, 25% is tax free and the remaining 75% will be taxable as pension income at the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. The 25% tax free element is not available for payments from Pension Credits (in respect of divorce) as a tax-free lump sum may already have been paid in connection with these funds before the pension-sharing order was issued. 

The following cannot utilise Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum:

1) Those with Primary Protection (against their Lifetime Allowance) also with Tax Free Cash protection.

2) Those with Enhanced Protection (against their Lifetime Allowance) also with Tax Free Cash protection.

3) Those with a Lifetime Allowance enhancement factor.

Please note that if you take Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum your annual allowance reduces to £10,000 pa tax year 2024-2025.

Small Pot Lump Sums

This replaces what was termed Trivial Commutation pre April 2015. This is available from age 55 (reduced from age 60) or in ill-health circumstances.  The combined value (from any other employer related schemes) must not exceed £10,000. The payment must extinguish the fund value and there cannot have been any transfers from this scheme or other pension scheme of the same employer within the last three years. In either scenario, 25% of any uncrystallised amount is paid tax free and the balance is subject to the individual’s marginal rate of income tax. The concept of trivial commutation still applies to defined benefit (final salary) arrangements only (not SSASs). Small pot lump sums are identical in concept to Flexi-Access Drawdown but have different treatment for maximum ongoing pension contributions, the £60,000 tax year 2024-2025 can be retained. 

Partial/Phased Drawdown

Phased Retirement means taking only part of your pot as tax free cash and pension.  The advantage of this is that your fund can continue to grow, potentially providing a larger amount of total tax free cash to be drawn in the long-run, dependent upon investment performance, whilst retaining your short term cash requirements. 

Phased Drawdown is utilising Partial Retirement to target a combined amount of tax free cash and pension each set period. So for example a client wants to receive £10,000 p.a. from their SSAS annually. Each year therefore the client partially crystallises exactly the amount of fund required to provide tax free cash and NET pension totalling £10,000. 

Stay in control even after you retire

You can continue to manage your own investments in a SSAS even after taking retirement benefits.

Benefits - if you are considering accessing your pension pot you need to consider the following:

We strongly recommend that you take regulated advice from an FCA regulated adviser to understand your options at retirement.

If you are over age 50, you can obtain free and impartial advice from Pension Wise which can be provided over the phone on 0800 138 3944 or visit pensionwise.gov.uk.

When considering your options, please consider the following: 

a) Making decisions about your pension based on short term events and circumstances can have long term consequences for your financial wellbeing and retirement, especially at a time of market volatility.

b) If you have other sources of finance, depending on what these are, there may be fewer long-term risks if you access those first. The financial support available in the current circumstances, (including yours rights to sick pay, what benefits you can claim if you’re now self-employed or not entitled to sick pay) is explained on the Money Advice service website. The debt advice locator tool on the Money Advice Service website can help you find out where to get free debt advice please visit www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/money-troubles/dealing-with-debt to get free advice on debt.

c) Before taking any major decisions about your pension, take the time to get independent guidance or advice from an FCA regulated adviser.

d) If you access your pension savings now, you might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

e) You will receive only the current value of your pension investments (which might have fallen recently), and this may be taxable (there may also be charges or deductions, where applicable).

f) Locking in any loss now could reduce how much money is available to generate the income you may need in later life.

g) Pensions are designed to fund your expenses in the future. If you take funds from your pension now, you may not be able to generate the income you need in later life.

h) If you take some (or all) of your pension as income now, but plan to save more into a pension in future, you can continue to receive tax relief on your personal contributions paid in (relief at source) up to the age of 75, but you will only be able to save £10,000 pa tax year 2024-2025 before you are taxed.

i) You can normally choose to take up to 25% of your fund tax-free, subject to not exceeding the new Lump sum allowance (LSA) and Lump sum and death benefit allowance (LS&DBA) limits. Depending on how you withdraw funds from our pension, the rest could be subject to income and/or move you to a higher income tax band (meaning you would pay more tax and receive less money). Taking the whole pot as cash could result in a large tax bill- for most people it will be more tax efficient to use another option.