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These common myths mean you could be missing out on pension money  

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Worrying numbers of people don’t know they can contribute to their pension while on parental leave, or that they can access their pension early if they’re severely ill.

These are just two of the pension knowledge ‘blind spots’ uncovered during a survey by the government’s Money and Pensions Service.

Women were less likely to know they can keep topping up their pension while on parental leave than men, which is particularly concerning as women lag men when it comes to saving for retirement.

Another worrying finding was that almost two-thirds of people didn’t know self-employed workers can benefit from tax relief on pension savings.

The research also revealed a lack of awareness about the growth of pension savings and what happens to pensions when an employer goes bust.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, acting chief executive at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “It’s clear that many people are unaware of their options when it comes to important events in their lives that can impact their pensions such as becoming a parent or starting their own business. Women in particular have many important financial decisions to make when transitioning into parenthood but our findings suggest they are less likely to be aware of their pension options.”

Pension questions: true or false?

If you are forced to retire early due to severe ill health, you can access your pension early. True

You can leave money to grow in pension schemes until you need to access it. True

People can start saving into a pension as soon as they have started working, whatever their age. True

Self-employed people can’t benefit from tax relief on pension savings. False

Money invested in a pension tends to grow at the same rate as you would get in a savings account. False

Workers can not contribute to their pension while on parental leave. False

There’s no benefit to contributing more into a pension than the amount your employer will match. False

If your employer automatically enrols you into a pension scheme, you don’t have to worry about not saving enough. False

If you save into a workplace pension and your employer goes bust, you will lose all your money invested in the scheme. False

Top tips to avoid pensions blind spots

  • Continue to make contributions to your pension while on parental leave. Check with your employer how this will work. This will vary depending on whether you’re part of a defined contribution scheme or defined benefit scheme.
  • If you’re suffering from severe ill health and wondering what your options are to access your pension, talk to your pension provider. They will be able to explain whether you are eligible to access your pension early.
  • If you are self-employed, you could receive tax relief on the amounts you put into your pension so it’s worth making contributions if you can. Further support for self-employed people with their pensions is available through the Pensions Advisory Service who offer a specialist telephone-based appointment service.
  • For free, confidential help from pensions specialists call The Pensions Advisory Service helpline on 0800 011 3797 or visit

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