Do you know when you can retire and what your pension will be? For most people in employment, the answer is no. Everyone has the vague idea that they must expect a cut in purchasing power… of 20%, 30% or 40%. Not very easy though, to be more precise. There are, however, a whole range of tools available to dissipate this lack of clarity and hence to make the right choices to prepare for old-age. Let’s look around what you can use. 

The Agirc Arrco web portal

Every five years since 2003 people have been receiving an individual statement of vested benefits (the RIS) showing the number of quarters validated as well as the points, and the basis for contributions, aggregated for all schemes and painstakingly acquired throughout one’s working life. Nevertheless, all this information is difficult to interpret.

For a few years now, the Agirc-Arrco website offers access to a personal area that stores all your personal data and allows you to perform simulations. In just a few clicks, based on historical data and customisable criteria, you can access tailor-made estimates according to your retirement age. A real success! The tool is easy to use and straightforward, almost kid’s play… The only drawback is that the data used, and the calculations are not always reliable. They provide an overview of your future income, but do not correct any errors that may have crept into your data.

Checking out what is in your RIS

In partnership with Sapiendo, Gerep offers a complete verification of the data appearing in your statement of vested benefits (RIS). The simulator identifies any inconsistencies that need to be checked out and corrected, where necessary. Reduced pension on band C income, alteration of upper limits, periods of work left out, etc. Errors are very frequent and rarely apparent. With people’s working life much more chaotic, this risk is getting greater. If there are any obvious mistakes, the tool automatically generates a letter requesting rectification. 

Following this, it is best to examine the simulation results together with a pensions expert to produce a customised report. This is because the simulator alone cannot ask you questions about the missing work periods and these do not all have the same effect on your pension rights. Certain periods such as military service, sick leave, unemployment and even periods of work abroad in some countries, count towards validating quarters. Another example is a mother who has given birth to, and educated three children, which means she earns 8 quarters’ contributions, i.e. two years in total, per child. An extra benefit that it would be a shame to miss out on.

Customised retirement simulation

Once your work history has been correctly mapped out, a customised retirement simulation helps you identify the best ways to optimise your pension. Are you eligible for early retirement under the long-working life scheme? Would it be in your best interest to make voluntary contributions to validate quarters? At what age will you decide to retire and for what pension? For a fifty-year-old who still needs to contribute for almost 15 years, the best is to vary one’s retirement savings strategy, for example by paying higher additional voluntary contributions or by taking out a so-called “article 83” or a “Madelin Act” retirement policy.

A few hundred Euros is all it costs to obtain a customised retirement simulation which enables you to forecast and even safeguard the income that you will receive over the 25 to 30 years of your retirement from working life. It would be difficult to find a more profitable investment! 

Damien Vieillard-Baron.

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