State pension: deadline looms for National Insurance top-ups

Do you think you may have a shortfall in National Insurance (NI) credits? A Government scheme allows you to buy credits to boost your state pension – here Anthony Long, Chartered Financial Planner explains how.

How National Insurance affects your State Pension

Your state pension entitlement is based on the number of years of national insurance contributions you have been credited for.  In April 2016, new rules were introduced to try to have a basic rate of state pension, and this resulted in the number of years to get the full State Pension increasing from 30 to 35 “qualifying years”. Anyone who had no credits before April 2016 will be solely calculated through the new rules. However, for most people who are approaching the state pension age in the next 30 years, they will likely be subject to the rules pre 2016 and post 2016.

Qualifying years come in different forms:

  • National insurance credited whilst in employment
  • Claiming child benefit for a child under 12
  • Receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • Receiving Carer’s Allowance

If you do not have 35 qualifying years, the amount of State Pension will be lower (e.g. half the number of years would entitle you to half the full State Pension).

What to do if you do not have the full 35 years?

If you do not have the full 35 qualifying years you may be able to depending on eligibility, top up your national insurance record to the maximum level, or to a level you can afford. The first thing to do is to contact the Future Pension Centre (https://www.gov.uk/future-pension-centre) who will provide a summary of how many years you have and how many years you are short.

Those with National Insurance records before 2016 may be able to make a partial payment to top up missed years. This is due to previously being able to opt out of the full national insurance, so a smaller payment could rectify this. The Future Pension Centre will confirm any partial years and how much is needed to add the missing years.

What is happening in April 2023?

HMRC have given a grace period for people to top up longer than the standard 6 years. Up to April 2023, you can go back to the 2006/07 tax year if needed. After April 2023, the normal period of 6 years will apply.

Is it worth doing?

Someone with 10 missing years could pay out a little over £8,000 to fix the gaps but could see a boost of £55,000 in state pension over a typical 20-year retirement.

The current cost of voluntary class 3 NI contributions is £15.85 per week or £824.20 per year.  Based on the current State Pension, one extra year equates to £275 per year of income (linked to inflation).

What to do

Check your State Pension record to see if you already have enough years (or are likely to have enough years) to get the full State Pensions. If you do have any missed years from more than 6 years ago, you have until 5th April 2023 to make these up.

If you do not need to make up any shortfall between the tax years 2006/07 and 2016/17, this deadline will likely not affect you and you can continue to top up after April 2023 as normal.

Topping up the State Pension may not be appropriate for everyone and we always advise you to speak with a regulated financial adviser or the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) before making any big financial decisions.

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The content of this blog is for information only and must not be considered as financial advice.  We always recommend that you seek independent financial advice before making any financial decisions.

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