The new State Pension
There have been a lot of changes around the State Pension in 2016.
What is the new State Pension?
The new State Pension is a regular payment from Government that most people can claim in later life.
You can claim the new State Pension at State Pension age if you have at least 10 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 get the old State Pension instead.
When can I claim my new State Pension?
The earliest you can get the basic State Pension is when you reach State Pension age.
Can I claim my State Pension and keep working?
Yes, you can. However, here are some things you should bear in mind:
- Any money you earn won’t affect your State Pension, but it may affect your entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.
- Be aware that State Pension is taxable, so when added to your earnings it may put you into a higher tax band.
- When you reach State Pension age, you won’t have to pay National Insurance anymore, even if you keep on working.
How much State Pension will I get?
The full amount you can get under the new State Pension will be £159.55 per week (in 2017/18) 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 10 and 34 years of contributions, you will receive a proportion of the pension
- less than 10 years of NI contributions, you aren’t eligible for the new State Pension.
You can check your how much State Pension you will get on the .GOV.UK website or, if you are aged 50 or over, you can request a paper statement if you prefer.
How is my pension amount 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 you’re 'starting amount' is more than the full amount of the new State Pension (see above section), 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 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 partner’s contributions?
The State Pension is based on your own contributions and in general you will not be able to claim on your spouse or 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 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.
If you don’t claim the State Pension straight away
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. The State Pension increases by 1% for every 9 weeks you put off claiming it, or around 5.8% for each full year. This may not apply to you if you get certain benefits.
If you’re a carer
If you’re a carer and don’t work, this could affect your NI record and impact your State Pension amount. You could apply for Carer’s Credit, which will go towards your NI record and protect your entitlement to State Pension.
If you get Carer’s Allowance, you automatically receive Carer’s Credit. If you aren’t eligible for Carer’s Allowance you could still get Carer’s Credit.
If you live abroad or used to
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.
If you have gaps in your NI record
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.
How do I claim my State Pension?
You won’t normally receive your State Pension automatically. You need to make a claim.
Step one: You should get a letter and booklet from the Pension Service about four months before you reach the State Pension age. If you don’t, give the Pension Service a call on 0800 731 7898.
Step two: You can claim your pension online, over the phone or by post. You will need to provide your National Insurance number when you make a claim and you may need to provide evidence of your date of birth.
- Online: You can claim your State Pension online anytime as it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is safe and secure and there is an online helpdesk on 0345 604 3349 (textphone: 0345 604 0523) to help you through the process if you have any difficulty.
- Phone: To claim over the phone call the Pension Service claim line on 0800 731 7898 or textphone: 0800 731 7339. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (except public holidays)
- Post: You can also claim by form. You can download the forms from GOV.UK
What should I do next?
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