State pension: Britons could be missing out on thousands due to NI gap

Martin Lewis answers question about state pension

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To get the full new state pension, people need 35 years of National Insurance contributions, while it’s usually 30 that is needed for the full basic state pension. Britons are encouraged to check their National Insurance record to find out if they have gaps as this could costs them thousands.

Individuals may get gaps in their record if they do not pay National Insurance or they do not get the credits.

This could be because they were employed but had low earnings, or they were unemployed and not claiming benefits.

Gaps can mean people will not have enough years of National Insurance contributions to either:

  • get the full state pension (sometimes called ‘qualifying years’)
  • qualify for some benefits

People may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps.

To qualify for the full new state pension, people need 35 qualifying years, whereas with the basic state pension, people require 30 qualifying years to get the full sum.

Britons can claim the new state pension if they are a man born on or after April 6, 1951 or a woman born on or after April 6, 1953.

The new state pension offers people £185.15 a week. This is £9,628 a year.

Britons who take time off from working and therefore miss qualifying years can plug these gaps to still recieve the full amount.

Currently people can buy years to plug the National Insurance gaps back to 2006 however, the rules are changing from April 5, 2023.

Once the date passes, people will only be able to buy back six years’ worth of National Insurance contributions.

People who have 30 years of contributions paid before 2016/17 may find it is only worth paying extra contributions to fill gaps from that year onwards. 

The standard cost to make up a year of missing National Insurance contributions is £824.20.

Self-employed pay just £163.80 for a full year.

Britons may want to pay voluntary contributions because:

  • They’re close to state pension age and do not have enough qualifying years to get the full state pension
  • They know they will not be able to get the qualifying years they need to get the full state pension during their working life
  • They’re self-employed, file Self Assessment tax returns and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because they have low profits
  • They live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for some benefits

It is possible for taxpayers to use the Government’s online National Insurance contributions service to see how far away they are from getting the full state pension amount.

It should be noted that they must have a Government Gateway account to use this service and can get an account by signing up using details from their passport, payslips or a P60.

Ater logging into their account, taxpayers will be able to view their National Insurance history.

Any gaps between National Insurance contributions which could affect someone’s eligibility for the full state pension will be presented to the taxpayer.

On its website, Citizens Advice provides financial advice for those concerned about whether or not they have enough National Insurance contributions to get the full state pension.

Specifically, the money guidance bureau noted the different ways people can pick up vital National Insurance credits.

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