Since 6 April 2010, individuals have generally had to wait until their 55th birthday before taking benefits (instead of age 50 as previously), unless they have an earlier protected pension age (see below) or their retirement is on grounds of ill-health.
A pension paid from a registered pension scheme to a member outside these circumstances will constitute an unauthorised payment and will be subject to higher tax charges. The relevant date for applying the NMPA test is the date of the first payment of pension in accordance with the pensions tax legislation.
Legislation allows a member to preserve a right to retire earlier than age 55 (a protected pension age) post-April 2010, provided that certain conditions are met. However, this protection can be lost in certain circumstances.