5 December 2018 is the last day on which anyone can claim their State Pension at exactly 65 years of age.

Men born on 5 December 1953 will be able to claim on their 65th birthday. (Women born on the same day got their State Pensions slightly earlier, on 6 November 2018 – the date from which all women born between 6 November 1953 and 5 December 1953 could claim.)

After 5 December, State Pension commencements will cease for three months, except where people claim later than they could have done. Everyone, male and female, with a date of birth between 6 December 1953 and 5 January 1954 will be eligible to start receiving their State Pension with effect from 6 March 2019.

For people turning 65 after 5 December, State Pension Ages are unisex for the first time since the 1940s (except for the one day on which female pension age was exactly 65, for women who turned 65 on 6 November 2018 exactly). Pension ages for everyone born on or after 6 December 1953 will also be higher than 65 – the first time this has been the case since the UK introduced a contributory system in 1925 (except to the extent that the old administrative system used to result in some people's State Pension starting up to six days after the relevant birthday). Means-tested State Pensions were previously payable from age 70 under the Old Age Pensions Act 1908.

As the chart shows, State Pension Age will reach 66 in 2020. It is exactly 66 for people born between 6 October 1954 and 5 April 1960 (and on 6 September 1954 exactly).

Willis Towers Watson Media 

The chart contains lots of little zigzags because the process of getting from 65 to 66 sees the State Pension Age repeatedly stepping up, sloping down, then stepping up again. This creates a 'birthday lottery' similar to the one experienced by women affected by State Pension Age equalisation.

For example, someone born on 5 February 1954 will have received eight weeks and five days' worth of State Pension before someone born the following day can start claiming. If both are entitled to the full New State Pension, worth £168.60 a week in 2019-20, the difference comes to £1,469 before tax – a meaningful amount of money to hinge on a quirk of the mechanism for increasing State Pension Age that Parliament selected. Someone born on 5 March 1954 gets their State Pension at the same time as, and therefore from a slightly younger age than, the person born on 6 February 1954, despite the general principle that people born later have older State Pension Ages.

For the subsequent increase from 66 to 67 (which concludes in 2028), a slightly different mechanism will be used, which will be easier for the Government to communicate and for people to understand. Instead of everyone born within a one-month window having the same eligibility date, they will all have the same eligibility age, which is always an exact number of months (66 years and one month for people born between 6 April and 5 May 1960; 66 years and two months for people born between 6 May and 5 June 1960; and so on).

The lottery effect is still there under that mechanism, but no one gets their State Pension from a younger age than someone born before them. On average, the changed approach will see affected individuals get their State Pensions half a month later than if the mechanism used to increase State Pension Age to 66 had been copied across – a relatively uncontroversial way for the Government to spare taxpayers from paying the equivalent of a couple of weeks of State Pension for approaching 800,000 people born during the 1960s baby boom.