How health and lifestyle can impact annuity income

If you are a smoker, heavy drinker or suffer from poor health, this will dramatically impact the amount of income from an annuity.

Who Could Benefit from an Enhanced Annuity?

"As we age, the likelihood of being diagnosed with a medical condition increases, which can impact our financial security in retirement. However, it's surprising to note that a significant number of people in the UK could potentially qualify for an enhanced annuity.

Specialist annuity providers can offer better rates than standard annuity providers, so it's essential to shop around. In fact, past figures indicate that around 70% of retirees could potentially miss out on higher income by not considering an open market option, where medical information and lifestyle questions can be used to determine eligibility for an enhanced annuity income.

Smoking Quick Facts

It’s a medical fact that smoking related illnesses will shorten the average smoker’s life expectancy and this is reflected by the number of specialist annuity providers that offer smoker’s annuities.

  • Over 10 Million people smoke in the UK
  • The average amount of cigarettes smoked is over 12 per day.
  • Over one fifth of the population smoke.
  • Typically, enhanced rates are offered to those individuals that have smoked continuously for more than ten years and are smoking at the time of application.
  • Once they have qualified for a smoker's enhancement and the annuity is in force the annuitant can kick the habit without penalty.


How Lifestyle can affect your pension income.

When an annuity company calculates the rate of annuity they are prepared to pay an individual, the most important factor that is taken into account is the life expectancy of the applicant.

The reason is quite simple, this is the period of time that they expect to pay out an income.


Smoking 10 cigarettes per day could increase somebody's pension income by over 21%

Being Overweight

Being overweight could increase somebody's pension income by over 17%

Taking Medication

Taking medication for things such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol could increase pension income by over 6%

How and why do these factors increase pension income?

Traditionally the calculations were derived using mortality tables, these being actuarial tables that show the average age of death for people around the UK. In more recent years specialist annuity companies have recognised that an individual who smokes, drinks or is overweight will on average die sooner than those who lead a healthy lifestyle. This has led to the birth of the enhanced annuity.

In addition to this other factors that contribute to a shorter life expectancy such as where an individual lives in the country and past occupations have also started to be considered when an enhanced annuity rate is calculated.

Statistically, an ex foundry worker from Middlesbrough might have a shorter life expectancy than an accountant who lives in Surrey so the annuity company expects that income payments will cease earlier, this is reflected in the annuity rate.

You’d be amazed at what factors can enable you to qualify for an enhancement on your annuity. Even your level of education and the age of which your parents passed away could make you eligible.

See if you qualify for an enhanced annuity with our free calculator

What lifestyle factors are considered?

While some lifestyle factors might not contribute on their own, when considered in combination with another lifestyle factor they could give an enhanced annuity rate.

For example someone who lives in a postcode area that is near a busy road or an industrial area might not qualify, but if the same person was also a taxi driver during their working life, then the combination of residence and occupation could qualify for an enhanced annuity.

Interestingly, if a spouses/dependent’s pension has been selected the annuitant could be fit and healthy but the addition of a spouse/dependent with lifestyle or medical conditions could qualify for an enhanced annuity.


suffer from diabetes in the UK

See the statistics here


new UK cancer cases 2016-2018 

See the statistics here


in the UK suffer a stroke each year

 See the statistics here              

14.4 million

adults have high blood pressure

See the statistics here

A person who is classed as overweight or obese would qualify for a significant enhancement. Statistics show that people who are significantly overweight can suffer a range of linked medical problems such as diabetes and heart problems all of which can enhance the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Obesity has also been linked to some forms of cancer.

Enhanced annuity companies recognise that these conditions can lead to an early death and this is reflected in the annuity rate offered. Depending on an applicant’s BMI (Body Mass Index) the annuitant can qualify for an enhanced rate without any other medical conditions.

Applicants with a lower BMI might not qualify unless they have additional medical issues for example high blood pressure.

Typically a BMI over 30 could potentially lead to an enhanced annuity if in combination with another contributing factor. A BMI over 34 would qualify on its own. Over 60% of adults are classed as overweight with around one quarter being classed as obese.

The NHS offer a useful BMI calculator to check BMI.

How obesity can affect annuity income

Other factors that affect annuity income


How much someone drinks on a regular basis will also contribute to an enhanced annuity if in combination with another medical or lifestyle issues and if consumption is over certain levels this will qualify on its own.

An increased income could be awarded where people drink more than 40 Units of alcohol on a regular basis each week

Drink aware offer an easy to use calculator to help calculate alcohol consumption, click the link below:


High Blood Pressure

One of the most common enhancements for annuity income is for high blood pressure (Hypertension) with over 7 Million people suffering with the condition in the UK.

A diagnosis of high blood pressure and taking just one medication or more will lead to an enhanced annuity ranking.

The date of diagnosis, number of medications prescribed and the latest blood pressure reading can contribute to further increase in annuity income.

Almost one third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure. Source: www.bloodpressureuk.org

High Cholesterol

A high cholesterol diagnosis and prescribed medication can also entitle a retiree to an enhanced annuity income.

Almost two thirds of the adult population have higher than recommended cholesterol levels. Source: NHS Sept 2021

The higher the number of prescribed medications and type of prescribed medication can lead to further enhancement.

Cholesterol levels increase with age and men are more likely to suffer.

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol in combination with other lifestyle or medical factors can increase the annuity income still further.

See if you qualify for an enhanced annuity with our free calculator

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