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New EU gender rules could mean better pension prospects for women

Women who keep their pensions invested could receive an additional £400 a year after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed that the new EU gender rules will apply to capped pension income withdrawals.

This means that women who keep their funds invested via Income Drawdown (also known as an unsecured pension), which according to the Pensions Advisory Service ‘allows you to take income from your pension fund while the fund remains invested and continues to benefit from any fund growth’, will have their maximum income withdrawal limit increased by around 8%, or £400 a year.

Currently maximum capped income rates are calculated according to two different tables, one for men and one for women. However, from 21 December 2012 the rates used to calculate the maximum amount of income a woman can draw from her pension on an annual basis in drawdown will be based on male life expectancy rates.

HMRC has made this decision to withdraw the female table in line with an EU directive. This will mean that a 65 year old woman could see her drawdown income leap from £4,900 a year to £5,300 a year.

Adrian Walker, Skandia’s pension expert, said:

“The fact that HMRC has taken this step is an interesting move, and one which will significantly benefit women taking the capped income withdrawal route. Maximum income levels have been adversely impacted in recent months due to the record low gilt yield and volatile market conditions, so this will be a welcome relief for many women".

And added: “Women already taking a capped income can benefit from this rule change at their next review period.”

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