How to Get a Full State Pension

Understanding how the UK state pension works can be complicated. With varying qualifying years and differing amounts, it’s crucial to know where you stand. An article in The Mirror looked at everything you need to understand about the state pension, how much you could receive, and how you can potentially increase your payments in retirement.

Understanding Your State Pension

The state pension is a regular payment most UK citizens receive once they reach a certain age in later life. However, the amount you receive isn’t a one-size-fits-all figure; it’s calculated based on the National Insurance (NI) record you’ve built up over your working life. If your record doesn’t have enough qualifying years, you might not receive the full pension amount.

Different Pensions for Different Birthdays

The New State Pension: For men born on or after April 6, 1951, and women born on or after April 6, 1953, you fall under the “new” state pension. As of now, the full new state pension stands at £203.85 per week.

The Basic State Pension: If you’re a man born before April 6, 1951, or a woman born before April 6, 1953, you’re eligible for the “basic” state pension, which is currently £156.20 a week.

Qualifying Years: The Key to Unlocking Full Pension

“Qualifying years” are essentially how many years you’ve paid, or been credited with, National Insurance contributions. The number of these years you need for a full pension varies.

New State Pension Requirements

For the new state pension, you generally need 35 years of NI contributions to get the full amount. If you have less than ten years, you normally won’t receive any state pension.

Basic State Pension Rules

The basic state pension rules are a bit trickier:

  • Men need 30 qualifying years if born between 1945-1951, or 44 years if born before 1945.
  • Women require 30 qualifying years if born between 1950-1953, or 39 years if born before 1950.
  • To receive any pension at all under these rules, the number of qualifying years needed is less, but it varies based on your birth year.

How Do I Check My Pension Status?

Curious about how much you’re set to receive? You can check your state pension forecast online on the website. Registration with Government Gateway is required but signing up is free. Alternatively, you can contact the Future Pension Centre for your forecast.

When Will the Money Start Coming In?

Currently, the state pension age is 66. However, it’s set to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and again to 68 between 2044 and 2046, though there are proposals to expedite this increase.

Can I Increase My Pension?

Yes, potentially. If your National Insurance record has gaps, you might be able to fill them. Sometimes, you can do this for free with National Insurance credits, which you might be eligible for if you were on certain benefits or statutory sick pay.

Otherwise, you could make voluntary National Insurance contributions. It costs £824 to cover a missed year, which will increase your annual state pension by £275. Note that the rules around buying back years will change after April 5, 2025.

Additionally, you might increase your income through Pension Credit or by deferring your state pension if you’re still working. Remember, these are separate from any workplace or private pensions you have.