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State Pensions - an introduction

The State Pension is a regular payment people can claim when they get to State Pension age. Most people build up some State Pension, but the amount they get varies. It's worth understanding how you build up State Pension and how much income it will give you in later life.

The State Pension as part of your retirement plan

Once you claim your State Pension, it gives you a regular income for the rest of your life. It can give you a reliable foundation for your income in retirement, although it might not be enough to support the lifestyle you want. So you may decide you want to save for yourself on top of what the State provides.

If you want to make a plan for your retirement, it's worth knowing what sort of State Pension you are building up. In 2010-11, a single person can get a maximum of £97.65 a week basic State Pension, though some people get less than this. Many people get more than this amount, because they also get an additional State Pension.

Here are some of the main questions you might be asking about your State Pension. They should help you get started in planning for the future.

If you want to find out more, or start making a plan, you'll find some useful links at the bottom of the page.

When will you be able to claim the State Pension?

You can claim your State Pension once you reach your State Pension age. You do not have to claim it straight away, and you can increase the amount you get if you put off claiming it.

Today, the State Pension age for men is 65, but this will rise in the future. Starting on 6 April 2010 the State Pension age for women is increasing from 60. It will reach 65 in 2020. For men and women, the State Pension age will then increase from 65 to 68 between 2024 and 2046. It's easy to work out your own State Pension age.

How is your State Pension worked out?

The amount of State Pension you get depends how many qualifying years of National Insurance you have built up. You can do this by paying National Insurance contributions, or you may get National Insurance credited to you by the government.

What happens when you can't pay National Insurance?

Sometimes you may not be able to pay National Insurance, for example if you are ill or unemployed. In many cases, the government makes your contribution for you by giving you credits.

You may also get credits if you are getting Child Benefit or caring for someone who is sick or disabled.

Will you get more than the basic State Pension?

The State Pension is made up of two parts, the basic State Pension and the additional State Pension. Different people get different amounts of each.

What will your State Pension be worth when you retire?

The State Pension amounts you read about usually tell you what people get today. If you live in the UK or in certain other countries, the State Pension normally increases each year.

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