The State Pension age is the earliest you can claim your State Pension. Your State Pension age depends on when you were born. For people reaching State Pension age now, it is age 66 for women and men, but the Government has set out two increases to State Pension age in legislation.
For those born after 5 April 1960, there will be a phased increase in State Pension age to 67, and eventually to age 68. You can check your State Pension age here: https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age
In most cases, you can get a full State Pension if you have 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. You need a minimum of 10 qualifying years to receive any State Pension entitlement.
The full State Pension is currently £185.15 per week increasing by 10.1% to £203.85 per week from April 2023. For some, this may differ due to the way the rules in place pre-2016.
If you find yourself with a lower amount than £185.15 per week you may be able to improve your record either through accruing further qualifying years up until State Pension Age or by making Voluntary National Insurance contributions to plug any gaps in your National Insurance record.
Currently, you have up until 5th April 2023 to fund any gaps in your record between April 2006 and April 2016. After this, you can only fund gaps going back 6 years. Therefore, if you are close to State Pension Age and are not entitled to the full State Pension as things stand, it will be wise to check for any gaps in your National Insurance Record between 2006 and 2016.
If you are thinking about topping up your State Pension for these earlier years, you should check with the Future Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if purchasing those years would improve your State Pension entitlement. They can also advise which years will be most cost effective for you to purchase to improve your State Pension.
Buying any missed years (if you have any that would count) comes at a cost. This can be achieved by:
- paying Voluntary Class 3 NI contributions at current cost of £15.85 per week in 2022/23 (increasing to £17.45 per week in 2023/34)
- paying Voluntary Class 2 NI contributions of £3.15 per week (£3.45 per week in 2023/24), if you are Self Employed and your profit is below £6,725 per annum
If you have some way before reaching State Pension Age, it is important to note that you can accrue qualifying years through the following means and you therefore may not need to fund any gaps in your record:
- earning enough to pay NI contributions on a Self Employed basis (currently £6,725 pa)
- earning over £123 a week from one employer on an employed basis
- gaining a credit for example by being in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or Carers Allowance
- caring for a child / grandchild under the age of 12, while (the parent is) claiming Child Benefit
Useful Numbers and websites:
Pension Service – 0800 731 7898
HMRC National Insurance Service – 0300 200 3500