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Set For Life: Odds of Winning a Prize

Set For Life is the UK National Lottery's only annuity game, offering prizes that pay out regular sums over a set period of time, rather than big one-off payments. The top prize is not shared, so it’s possible that multiple players could win monthly payments of £10,000 for 30 years in the same draw.

Prize Breakdown and Odds

All Set For Life prizes are fixed amounts, so you are guaranteed to win the advertised prize money unless prize capping comes into play. You can view a complete Set For Life prize breakdown in the table below, as well as the odds of winning each prize.

Tier Prize Amount Odds of Winning
Match 5 + Life Ball £10,000 per month for 30 years 1 in 15,339,390
Match 5 £10,000 per month for 1 year 1 in 1,704,377
Match 4 + Life Ball £250 1 in 73,045
Match 4 £50 1 in 8,116
Match 3 + Life Ball £30 1 in 1,782
Match 3 £20 1 in 198
Match 2 + Life Ball £10 1 in 134
Match 2 £5 1 in 15
Overall odds of winning a prize: 1 in 12.4
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    In Super Chance draws, you can win £10,000 a month for 30 years for matching just five numbers without the Life Ball. In those special events, that prize replaces the usual second prize of £10,000 per month for a year – you still win the usual top prize if you match five plus the Life Ball.

    Prize Capping in Set For Life Draws

    Set For Life prizes may be capped if there is an unusually high number of winners in a particular draw, and in that instance winners may receive less than the advertised prize amounts. These rules differ depending on the prize tier:

    Match 5 + Life Ball

    In each Set For Life draw there is a total of £16 million available to pay out winners of the top prize. Under ordinary circumstances, each top prize winner receives a total of £3.6 million over the course of the 30-year annuity. That means there can be a maximum of four top prize winners in a single draw without prize capping being activated.

    If there are five or more top prize winners in one draw, prize capping will be needed. In that scenario, the £16 million prize fund is split equally between all of the winners and each has the option of taking the payout as a lump sum or as an annuity. The annuity would still be paid out over 30 years but the monthly payments would be less than the advertised £10,000.

    Match 5

    The prize fund for the Match 5 prize is capped at £2 million in each draw. As each winner receives a total of £120,000 over the course of the year-long annuity, there can be a total of 16 winners in a single draw without prize capping being triggered.

    If there are more than 16 Match 5 winners in a single draw, the capped prize fund of £2 million will be split equally between them. Winners do not get a choice of taking the prize money as a lump sum. It will be paid out as an annuity over a year-long period, but the monthly payments will be less than the advertised £10,000.

    Match 3 to Match 4 + Life Ball

    The total prize fund available to pay out prizes in all but the top two tiers is equal to 35.94% of the revenue from ticket sales, plus a fixed amount of £1 million. If this sum is not enough to pay out the advertised prizes to all winners in the Match 2 to Match 4 + Life Ball tiers, the capped prize fund will be divided between them in increments. The table below shows how the money is divided.

    Payout stage From prize tier To prize tier Payout Total per winner
    1. First payout Match 2 Match 4 + Life Ball £5 £5
    2. If there are funds remaining Match 2 + Life Ball Match 4 + Life Ball + £5 £10
    3. If there are funds remaining Match 3 Match 4 + Life Ball + £10 £20
    4. If there are funds remaining Match 3 + Life Ball Match 4 + Life Ball + £10 £30
    5. If there are funds remaining Match 4 Match 4 + Life Ball + £20 £50
    6. If there are funds remaining Match 4 + Life Ball Match 4 + Life Ball + remainder £50+

    Firstly, all winners in the Match 2 to Match 4 + Life Ball tiers receive £5. If there are funds remaining, all winners in the Match 2 + Life Ball to Match 4 + Life Ball tiers will receive an additional £5, so their total payout would be £10. This continues, moving up the prize tiers according to the splits above, until the funds run out. This is all calculated before the money is paid, so winners will just receive one payment for the total amount they’re due.

    Note: Although Match 2 prizes are factored into the prize fund calculations, they’re not actually capped because the prize amount in that tier is £5 with or without the activation of prize capping.

    How Set For Life's Annuity Prizes Work

    The money that’s used to fund the regular annuity payments is only held by Allwyn until the winning ticket has been validated and the annuity has been set up. From that point, the payments are managed by a third-party.

    About the annuity policy

    Allwyn pays the prize money into an investment policy designed to yield the required amounts of money periodically over the term of the annuity. This policy is managed by a third-party broker, who is responsible for ensuring that the payments are made on time and in full. It is with this broker that you will deal with after the annuity has been set up.

    The National Lottery will provide guidance at every step, but it also recommends that you hire a financial advisor to help you understand and manage the process.

    Setting up the policy

    After you have made the claim for one of Set For Life’s top two prizes, a validation meeting will take place, part of which will involve setting up the annuity policy.

    A representative of the National Lottery will attend this meeting to validate the winning ticket. A broker from the annuity provider will also attend to set up the policy. You will have some forms to fill in and sign, such as a National Lottery prize claim form and documents relating to the annuity policy.

    Once that’s all done, the necessary steps will be taken to set up the annuity payments. Allwyn advises that it will aim to ensure that the policy is set up within four weeks from the validation meeting.

    Paying taxes

    All National Lottery prizes are tax free, so you are always guaranteed to receive the advertised jackpot amount. The same goes for Set For Life’s annuity prizes; the National Lottery ensures that you will receive the advertised prizes of £10,000 per month for one year or 30 years.

    Note: The annuity policies taken out to pay the two top prizes comprise of a capital amount (the money paid into the policy) and the interest that accrues over the course of the policy. The capital part is not subject to tax, but the interest is. However, Allwyn ensures that these policies are set up so you receive the advertised amounts into your bank account after tax has been deducted.

    Receiving the prize money

    The first prize payment will be made to you soon after the validation meeting has taken place and all the necessary checks have been completed. The payment will be made by cheque or bank transfer.

    The other payments will then be made every month thereafter for the term of the annuity. The exact dates on which the money will be paid to you will be confirmed during or after the validation meeting.

    If you die before all of the annuity payments have been made, the outstanding balance of the annuity policy will be paid to your estate as a lump sum.