Lifetime allowance - opt in or out of an employer's pension scheme

Published  16 February 2023
   4 min read

A case study about somebody who needs to decide whether to opt out of their employer's defined contributions scheme as they are close to the lifetime allowance.

Steven lives in England, is a 40% taxpayer aged 55, with pensionable salary of £80,000.

  • Steven plans to retire when he is 60 and is considering whether to opt out of his employer’s DC scheme.
  • His employer currently pays 6% contributions, Steven pays 6% contribution.  
  • His fund has a current value of £850,000.


  Steven opts out Steven stays in the scheme: Employer contribution only Steven stays in the scheme: Employer and employee contribution 6%
Option A B C
LTA in 5 years’ time £1,073,100 £1,073,100 £1,073,100
Starting fund on 6 April 2022 £850,000 £850,000 £850,000
Net Cost to Steven £0 £0 £15,138.23
Fund at retirement £1,034,154.80 £1,062,115.23 £1,090,075.48
LTA Excess £0 £0 £16,975.48
LTA charge (excess taken as lump sum) £0 £0 £9,336.52
LTA excess lump sum £0 £0 £7,638.97
Pension fund after charge £1,034,154.80 £1,062,115.23 £1,080,738.97

Assumption 1: Lifetime allowance is fixed at £1,073,100.
Assumption 2: Steven’s pensionable salary increases by 2.5% each year.
Assumption 3: Investment growth net of charges is 4% p.a.

Steven’s adviser explains the situation to him as follows:

  • If Steven remains in his scheme with employer contributions only (option B), based on the assumptions the adviser has agreed with him, he will face no lifetime allowance tax charge on retirement at age 60.
  • The adviser emphasises the value of the employer contributions and explains that opting out altogether would therefore be disadvantageous to Steven.
  • Option C produces a higher pension fund net of the lifetime allowance charge, but this comes at a cost to Steven. When compared to option B, Steven will accrue additional net funds of £18,623.74. This is at a net cost to him of £15,138.23, which is 60% of the gross contributions paid.

The adviser explains that based on the assumptions they’ve agreed about Steven’s likely future pay rises and the investment funds chosen, the potential benefits from remaining in the scheme and continuing to benefit from employer and personal contributions outweigh Steven’s costs including the lifetime allowance charge.

The adviser ensures Steven understands that if reality differs from the assumptions used, the position could change, and that they should therefore regularly review the position.

The adviser goes on to explain that Steven’s employer does not offer any alternative benefits/payments if an individual opts out of the pension scheme so there are no other options to be considered.

Adviser's recommendation

Steven remains in his scheme and continues to pay personal contributions of 6%.


The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.