What types of pension do you have?

What types of pension do you have?

There are many different types of pension scheme. It’s important to know what you have because this affects the pensions you get at retirement and the actions you take now.

Written by Jonquil Lowe on 02 June 2013

Pensions jargon

One of the most confusing aspects of saving for retirement is navigating the jargon: occupational pension scheme (also called company pension scheme or superannuation scheme), personal pension, defined benefit scheme, defined contribution (money purchase) scheme, stakeholder, GPP, SIPP…

Different types of pension scheme work in different ways. These differences have a big impact on both the pension you will eventually get and the decisions you may have to take now. So it is important to identify the types of pension scheme that you have.

Identifying your pensions

Use the chart below to help you identify the types of pension scheme you most probably have and how to check to make sure.

What pensions do you have?



* See State pension statement for more information.

** See Types of workplace and company pension schemes for more information or talk to your HR department.

*** See Personal pensions for more information.

Types of pension scheme: quick overview

The chart below gives a quick overview of the types of pension scheme you may belong to at present. Bear in mind that you may also still have the right to receive a pension at retirement from an old occupational pension scheme (company pension scheme or superannuation scheme) or personal pension that you belonged to in the past.

If your employer offers an occupational pension scheme, you may also be able to pay into an additional voluntary contribution (AVC) scheme. AVC schemes work in different ways.

Where the main occupational scheme is a final salary or career average scheme, you may be able to buy extra years of membership ('added years') or extra pension ('additional pension benefit'), which are both types of defined benefit arrangement. But often AVC schemes work just like a personal pension, in other words, on a money purchase basis.

In addition to occupational and personal pensions, you will probably also get some state pension.

Pensions: an overview

Pension schemes through your workplace

Pension schemes you arrange yourself

Occupational pension scheme

(company pension scheme, superannuation scheme)

Group personal pension (GPP)

Stakeholder pension or group stakeholder pension

National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) or a similar multi-employer scheme

Personal pension

Final salary scheme

Career average scheme

Money purchase 

Ordinary personal pension

Stakeholder pension

invested personal pension (SIPP)

Defined benefit schemes, sometimes called DB

Defined contribution (money purchase) schemes, sometimes called DC


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