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The amount of State Pension you get depends on your record of paying National Insurance through the years. Your National Insurance record includes any contributions you pay when you’re working, and any that are credited to you when you’re unable to work. For example, claimants of certain benefits, including Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), will get National Insurance credits.
There are a number of reasons why people could find themselves with gaps in their National Insurance record.
It could be because you were:
- Employed but had low earnings
- Unemployed but not claiming benefits
- Self employed but didn’t pay contributions due to low profits
- Living abroad
Can you claim State Pension if you don’t have enough qualifying NI years?
As it stands, you need to have a proven record of a minimum of 10 years National Insurance contributions to qualify for any form of State Pension.
Anything less than 10 years and claimants won’t be eligible to claim the State Pension.
Express.co.uk spoke with Director and Chartered Financial Planner at EQ Investors, Jeannie Boyle, about what else is available to people wanting to claim.
Ms Boyle told Express.co.uk: “If you have fewer than 10 years of contributions, or income is low, you will be able to claim Pension Credit.
“This tops up your income to £173.75 per week for a single person or £262.20 for a couple.
“Many people don’t realise they qualify for this benefit and miss out on the payments, and, if you qualify for Pension Credit, you may also be able to claim other benefits.”
For people who would rather opt for the State Pension rather than the credits, Ms Boyle said there are ways to fill in your National Insurance record.
She explained: “You need 35 years of National Insurance contributions to qualify for the full State Pension.
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“You can buy extra years of State Pension by paying ‘Voluntary Class 3 National Insurance Contributions’.
“The cost is £15.30 per week or £795 for a full year.
“An extra year of NI will buy you £4.80 a week or £249 a year – so the extra contributions will pay for themselves in just over three years.”
If you want to apply for Voluntary Class 3 NI Contributions, you can pay for the last six years in one go, and the deadline to do so is April 5 every year.
That means you have until April 5, 2021, to make up the gaps for the tax year 2014 to 2015.
What if you don’t have enough NI due to illness or a disability?
People who claim benefits for sickness or disability, like Personal Independence Payment (PIP), shouldn’t be adversely affected by not paying National Insurance.
Instead of State Pension, PIP claimants should opt for Attendance Allowance once they reach State Pension age.
Ms Boyle added: “If you have been in receipt of child benefit for a child under 12, JSA or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you will have had National Insurance credits automatically.
“But there are other circumstances in which you must apply for these, for example if you are a carer.”
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