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The State Pension is based on National Insurance contributions and is paid when you reach pension age.

State Pension age is currently 65 for men and is gradually increasing for women from 60 to 65 – it is 64 from April 2017. From December 2018, the State Pension age for both men and women will start to increase to reach 66 by October 2020. You can check your pension age by calling the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 or using the calculator at

There are different rules for State Pension depending on when you reach State Pension age.

  • If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 there is a new system in place. Under the new system the full weekly amount will be given to people with at least 35 years National Insurance (NI) contributions or credits. It will be worth £159.55 per week, but you could get more or less than this depending on how many years of NI contributions you have.

  • If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you will continue to get the State Pension under the old system. The old rules apply even if you defer claiming your State Pension until after 6th April 2016. The full basic State Pension under the old rules is £122.30 a week if you have at least 30 years of NI contributions.

As well as the basic State Pension, under the old system you may get Additional State Pension (through State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS), or the State Second Pension) or Graduated Retirement Benefit.

These are usually based on the amount you earned (and therefore the amount you paid through NI contributions).

Can I claim it?

  • You must have been credited with NI contributions throughout your working years. The amount you will receive depends on the number of years of contributions. Under the new system you need a maximum of 10 years contributions to qualify.
  • Under the old rules you may be able to ‘top up’ your State Pension based on your husband’s, wife’s or civil partner’s contributions if they are also of pension age. This applies whether you’re divorced, your civil partnership has dissolved or your spouse or civil partner has died. Under the new rules, your NI contributions are based on your own record and the special rules don’t apply.
  • You don’t have to claim your State Pension straight away. You can postpone claiming it – known as ‘deferring’ – and get a higher pension when you do. There are some benefits that might be affected if you defer. Seek advice if this is the case.

How do I claim?

Claiming State Pension is the same under both the new system and the old rules. Most older people are entitled to a pension however they still have to make a claim for it. If you haven’t been contacted three months before you reach State Pension age, contact the Northern ireland Pension Centre.

Further information

Related topics


Download the guide to claiming benefits for people over pension age.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Age NI Advice Service 0808 808 7575

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