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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Qualifying for a basic State Pension

You can get a basic State Pension from the qualifying years built up from National Insurance contributions (NICs). Find out more about how you can get a basic State Pension and when you can get it.

When can you get a basic State Pension?

Claiming your State Pension

Find out how you can claim your State Pension

State Pension age is the earliest you can get a basic State Pension. You have to claim it. You can also choose to put off claiming (defer) and take your State Pension later.

If you choose to defer you could get extra State Pension or a lump-sum payment as well as your State Pension when you do claim.

Changes to State Pension age

The age you receive your State Pension could be changing. To find out if you are affected, see 'Calculating your State Pension age'

Will you get a basic State Pension?

You can get a basic State Pension by building up enough National Insurance contribution qualifying years before State Pension age.

In 2011-12, you need to have £5,304 or more of such earnings if you are an employee or £5,315 or more if you are self-employed.

You can get an idea of how many qualifying years you have and what this means for you by using the State Pension profiler. This simple tool helps you estimate quickly how much basic State Pension you may have built up to date and when you can get it. It will also help you see how you are affected by recent changes to the State Pension.

How many qualifying years do you need?

The number of qualifying years you need for a full basic State Pension depends on your age and whether you're a man or a woman.

Men born before 6 April 1945 usually need 44 qualifying years.

Women born before 6 April 1950 usually need 39 qualifying years.

Men born on or after 6 April 1945 need 30 qualifying years.

Women born on or after 6 April 1950 need 30 qualifying years.

To find out more about the State Pension, you can download the leaflet 'State Pensions – Your guide'.

If you've been a parent or carer

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010 you may be able to get new National Insurance (NI) credits. These NI credits allow you to build entitlement to the State Pension. You may be eligible for NI credits if you are:

  • a parent with a dependent child under 12 years of age  
  • an approved foster carer 
  • caring for at least 20 hours per week for one or more severely disabled people

Up until 5 April 2010, many people who cared for others were eligible for Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP). HRP helped protect your State Pension entitlement for years when you were not working or your earnings were low. If you reach State Pension age after 5 April 2010, you will receive NI credits rather than HRP.

The new NI credits replaced HRP from 6 April 2010. If you built up HRP before 6 April 2010 then up to 22 of these years will have automatically been converted into NI credits. These NI credits will then count towards your basic State Pension.

If you've been claiming benefit

You will automatically receive NI credits for the weeks you’ve been claiming the following benefits (if you have paid enough NICs):

  • Carer’s Allowance 
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Incapacity Benefit 
  • Employment and Support Allowance

To find out more, contact the National Insurance Contributions Office.

How much is the basic State Pension?

To find out how much basic State Pension you may get, see ‘State Pension and Pension Credit rate: how much can you get?’.

If you don't qualify for the full basic State Pension

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010

If you have some qualifying years but not enough for a full basic State Pension, then you will get some basic State Pension. For each qualifying year that you have built up, you will get some basic State Pension. You may be able to take action to increase your State Pension if you don't have enough qualifying years.

If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2010

You’ll get a weekly basic State Pension between the minimum (£25.54 in 2011-12) and the maximum (£102.15 in 2011-12) if:

  • you don’t qualify for the full basic State Pension 
  • you have 25 per cent or more of the qualifying years

If you have fewer than 25 per cent of the qualifying years, you'll not be entitled to any basic State Pension using your NICs record. However, you may be able to take action to increase your State Pension. Read ‘Do you need to top up your National Insurance contributions’ to find out more.

You may be able to get a 'non-contributory' or 'Over 80 Pension' if you're aged 80 or more and meet the residency conditions. This is £61.20 a week for 2011-12.

If you are or have been married or in a civil partnership

You may be entitled to some basic State Pension through the NICs record of either:

  • your spouse or civil partner  
  • your former or late spouse or civil partner

Pension Credit

If you're a pensioner living in Great Britain, Pension Credit could top up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum of:

  • £137.35 if you are single  
  • £209.70 if you have a partner

The age from which you can get Pension Credit is gradually increasing from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020. To find out the age when you may be able to apply for Pension Credit, you can use the State Pension age calculator.

Claiming your State Pension

Follow the link below for more on:

  • claiming a basic State Pension
  • how it’s paid
  • putting off claiming until later

Tell The Pension Service about a change in your circumstances

Find out what you need to report, such as a change of address or bank details.

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