Many people have lots of questions about the UK State Pension and retirement planning so we created this Frequently Asked Questions post to help answer as many questions as we can.
If your question isn’t answered here call us on 0113 436 0110 or fill in our contact form we’ll be happy to help.
How has the UK State Pension Changed?
The State Pension changed on 6 April 2016. If you reached State Pension age on or after that date, you’ll get the new State Pension under the new rules. The new State Pension is designed to be simpler than the old system, but there are some changeover arrangements which you need to know about if you’ve already made contributions under the old system.
You can claim the new State Pension at State Pension age if you have at least ten years National Insurance contributions and are:
- A man born on or after 6 April 1951
- A woman born on or after 6 April 1953
If you were born before these dates, you will receive the old State Pension instead.
How much State Pension will I get when I retire?
The full amount you can get under the new State Pension will be £164.35 per week in 2018/19, but this depends on your National Insurance (NI) record.
If you have:
- 35 years or more of NI contributions, you will get the full amount
- Between ten and 34 years of contributions, you will receive a proportion of the pension
- Less than ten years of NI contributions, you aren’t eligible for the new State Pension
How is my State Pension worked out?
If you have already built up NI contributions under the pre-2016 system, you’ll be given a ‘starting amount’.
This will be whichever of the following that’s higher:
- Either the amount you would have received under the pre-2016 system, including basic and additional pension
- Or the amount you would get if the new State Pension had been in place at the start of your working life
If your ‘starting amount’ is more than the full amount of the new State Pension, any amount over that level will be protected and paid on top of the full amount when you start to claim the new State Pension.
If your starting amount is less than the full amount of the new State Pension, you may be able to build up a higher level of new State Pension through contributions and credits you make between 6 April 2016 and when you reach State Pension age.
What happens to my State Pension if I was in a Contracted Out Scheme?
When working out the ‘starting amount’ for your State Pension, a deduction will be made if you have been in a ‘contracted out’ personal or workplace pension scheme – for example, if you have been a member of a public sector pension.
The deduction is made because in this case, normally you will have paid NI contributions at a lower rate because you were paying into a contracted out pension instead.
Can I use my partners State Pension Contributions?
The State Pension is based on your own contributions, and in general you will not be able to claim on your spouse or registered civil partner’s contributions at retirement or if you are widowed or divorced. However, if you’re widowed, you may be able to inherit part of your partner’s additional State Pension already built up.
If you are a woman who paid the reduced rate ‘married woman’s contributions’, you may be able to use these contributions towards the State Pension.
Can I increase the value of my State Pension?
If you’re not on course to get a full State Pension, there may be some things you can do to help boost your pension.
What happens if I don’t claim my State Pension when I retire?
You don’t have to claim your State Pension when you reach State Pension age. This is known as ‘deferring’, and could mean that you get extra State Pension when you do claim. How much extra you get will depend on how long you defer claiming it. During 2018/19, eligible pensioners will be nearly £250 better off by the end of the tax year. Their annual income will be increased from £8,296.60 to £8,546.20.
How does being a carer affect my State Pension?
If you’re a carer and don’t work, this could affect your NI record and impact your State Pension amount. If you care for someone at least 20 hours per week, you could get Carer’s Credit to help maintain your NI record.
Can I claim a State Pension if I lived abroad?
If you live abroad or used to, you may have a gap in your NI record which could affect the amount of State Pension you’ll get. You may be able to get a pension from the country you live/lived in. Contact the department responsible for State Pensions in that country. If the country is in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, then the DWP may be able to help you contact them.
If you reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016, you might be able to use the time you worked abroad to make up some of the qualifying years that you need to get the new State Pension. This depends on the country you lived in though.
Can I get my State Pension if I have gaps in my National Insurance contributions?
If you have gaps in your record and want to boost your State Pension, you could make voluntary NI contributions. How much these are and if you are eligible will depend on your individual circumstances.