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State Pension

This advice applies to England

The State Pension is a regular payment from the government most people can claim when they reach State Pension age. Your State Pension age depends on when you were born. You can find out your State Pension age by using the calculator on the GOV.UK website.

How your State Pension will work depends on your situation:

You reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and you're already getting State Pension

You’re not affected by changes to the State Pension introduced in April 2016.

The full basic State Pension you can get is £119.30 per week.

You need 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount. You can get less than the full amount if you don’t have 30 qualifying years.

You may also qualify for an Additional State Pension depending on your contributions. This is sometimes known as State Second Pension.

Get more State Pension by topping up

You can top up the amount of weekly pension you receive by up to £25 a week by paying a lump sum National Insurance contribution or by using the State Pension top-up scheme.

You can find out how much you would need to pay to increase your pension by between £1 and £25 a week on the GOV.UK website.

The State Pension top-up can be inherited by a surviving husband, wife or civil partner.

Get extra State Pension by stopping taking payments for a while

If you're already getting your State Pension, you can decide to stop getting it for a time so that you can build up extra pension for the future. This is known as deferring your State Pension. You can only do this once.

There are 2 options:

  • get the extra pension paid as an increase in your weekly rate of State Pension - for every 5 weeks you defer, you'll get a pension increase of 1% which works out at 10.4% for every full year
  • get a taxable, lump sum payment if you put off getting your State Pension for at least a year.

You can get more information about deferring your State Pension on GOV.UK.

You reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016

You're not getting State Pension yet

How your State Pension will work depends on your sex and your date of birth:

You’re a woman born before 6 April 1953

You have reached State Pension age and can claim your pension. You’re not affected by changes to the State Pension introduced in April 2016 and your State Pension will be paid under the old system.

The full basic State Pension you can get is £119.30 per week.

You need 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount. You can get less than the full amount if you don’t have 30 qualifying years.

You may also qualify for an Additional State Pension depending on your contributions. This is sometimes known as State Second Pension.

You can top up the amount of weekly pension you receive by up to £25 a week by paying a lump sum National Insurance contribution or by using the State Pension top-up scheme. The State Pension top-up can be inherited by a surviving husband, wife or civil partner.

Find out how much you would need to pay to increase your pension by between £1 and £25 a week.

You can get an estimate of how much State Pension you may get on the GOV.UK website. This is called a State Pension Statement.

Deferring your State Pension

You don't have to claim your State Pension now you’ve reached State Pension age. If you want, you can put off (defer) your claim and get extra pension when you do claim.

The extra pension will be paid as an increase in your weekly rate of State Pension. For every five weeks you defer, you'll get a pension increase of 1%. This works out at 10.4% for every full year.

You can get more information about deferring your State Pension on the GOV.UK website.

You're a man born before 6 April 1951

You have reached State Pension age and can claim your pension. You’re not affected by changes to the State Pension introduced in April 2016 and your State Pension will be paid under the old system.

The full basic State Pension you can get is £119.30 per week.

You need 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount. You can get less than the full amount if you don’t have 30 qualifying years.

You may also qualify for an Additional State Pension depending on your contributions. This is sometimes known as State Second Pension

You can top up the amount of weekly pension you receive by up to £25 a week by paying a lump sum National Insurance contribution or by using the State Pension top-up scheme. The State Pension top-up can be inherited by a surviving husband, wife or civil partner.

Find out how much you would need to pay to increase your pension by between £1 and £25 a week.

You can get an estimate of how much State Pension you may get on the GOV.UK website. This is called a State Pension Statement.

Deferring your State Pension

You don't have to claim your State Pension now you’ve reached State Pension age. If you want, you can put off (defer) your claim and get extra pension when you do claim.

The extra pension will be paid as an increase in your weekly rate of State Pension. For every five weeks you defer, you'll get a pension increase of 1%. This works out at 10.4% for every full year.

You can get more information about deferring your State Pension on the GOV.UK website.

You’ll reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016

How your State Pension will work depends on your sex and your date of birth:

You're a woman born on or after 6 April 1953

You’ll get the new State Pension, introduced in April 2016.

The full basic State Pension you can get is £155.65 per week.

You need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount.

If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years, you can still get some State Pension, provided you have at least ten qualifying years. These can be from before or after 6 April 2016 and they don’t have to be ten years in a row.

If you’ve had a workplace, personal or stakeholder pension in the past and been paying reduced National Insurance contributions (known as ‘contracting out’), your starting amount may be less than the full amount. Contracting out has ended under the new system.

You won’t usually be able to claim a pension based on the contributions of your husband, wife or civil partner, although there will be some limited exceptions.

You can get an estimate of how much State Pension you may get on the GOV.UK website. This is called a State Pension Statement.

Deferring your State Pension

You don't have to claim your State Pension when you reach your State Pension age. If you want, you can put off (defer) your claim and get extra pension when you do claim.

If you've already claimed your State Pension, you can cancel the claim so that you can get extra pension later on, but you can only do this once.

The extra pension will be paid as an increase in your weekly rate of State Pension. For every nine weeks you defer, you'll get a pension increase of 1%. This works out at 5.8% for every full year.

This means you will have to live for around 19 years to benefit from the decision to put off claiming for one year.

You can get more information about deferring your State Pension on the GOV.UK website.

You’re a man born on or after 6 April 1951

You’ll get the new State Pension, introduced in April 2016.

The full basic State Pension you can get is £155.65 per week.

You need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount.

If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years, you can still get some State Pension, provided you have at least ten qualifying years. These can be from before or after 6 April 2016 and they don’t have to be ten years in a row.

If you’ve had a workplace, personal or stakeholder pension in the past and been paying reduced National Insurance contributions (known as ‘contracting out’), your starting amount may be less than the full amount. Contracting out has ended under the new system.

You won’t usually be able to claim a pension based on the contributions of your husband, wife or civil partner, although there will be some limited exceptions.

You can get an estimate of how much State Pension you may get on the GOV.UK website. This is called a State Pension Statement.

Deferring your State Pension

You don't have to claim your State Pension when you reach your State Pension age. If you want, you can put off (defer) your claim and get extra pension when you do claim.

If you've already claimed your State Pension, you can cancel the claim so that you can get extra pension later on, but you can only do this once.

The extra pension will be paid as an increase in your weekly rate of State Pension. For every nine weeks you defer, you'll get a pension increase of 1%. This works out at 5.8% for every full year.

This means you will have to live for around 19 years to benefit from the decision to put off claiming for one year.

You can get more information about deferring your State Pension on the GOV.UK website.

How State Pension works

Your National Insurance record

The amount of State Pension you get depends on your National Insurance record. Your National Insurance record includes National Insurance contributions that you pay when you are working and contributions that are credited to you when you are unable to work.

For example, you can get National Insurance credits when you’re claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance, or if you have caring responsibilities. Your record can also include voluntary contributions that you choose to pay to cover gaps when you are not working or getting credits.

When you reach State Pension age, you can claim a State Pension if you've paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions during your working life. What you get depends on how many ‘qualifying years’ of National Insurance contributions you have. Each tax year (6 April to 5 April) that you pay or are credited with National Insurance contributions counts as a qualifying year, provided you earn or are credited with earnings of at least a minimum amount. This amount changes every year.

If you don’t have enough National Insurance contributions

If you don’t have enough qualifying years to get a full State Pension, you may be able to make up gaps in your National Insurance contribution record by paying voluntary contributions.

There is a time limit for doing this. You can find out more about voluntary contributions and the time limits for paying them on the GOV.UK website.

Can you claim State Pension and carry on working?

You can choose to keep on working, whether paid or on a voluntary basis, while claiming your State Pension. Any money you earn will not affect your State Pension, but it may affect your entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (help with your rates in Northern Ireland).

For more information about other state benefits, see Benefits for older people.

Further help and information

For more information about other benefits you may be able to get when you retire, see Benefits for older people. For more about other types of pensions and starting a pension, see Pensions.

You may also find the following information helpful:

The Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website has useful information about all types of pensions including a pension calculator for working out how much pension you'll need.

Go to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

nidirect (in Northern Ireland)

nidirect is the official government website for Northern Ireland. It has information about the State Pension and other types of pensions and saving for your retirement.

Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk.

The Pensions Advisory Service

The Pensions Advisory Service is an independent organisation that gives free information and advice on pension planning, including state, personal, workplace and stakeholder schemes.

TPAS doesn't provide financial or investment advice or recommend products.

Helpline: 0300 123 1047
Go to: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Age UK

The Age UK website has information about State Pension, including changes to the rules from 2016.

Go to: www.ageuk.org.uk