State pension: Voluntary NI contributions may not always boost payments – how to check

State pension will pay out £168.60 per week if the person receiving it has contributed at least 35 years of national insurance. However, many people will receive lower than that and some may not receive anything at all if they have less than 10 years of contributions.


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Thankfully, the government will allow people to make voluntary contributions to boost their records.

This will usually ensure state pension payments rise down the line but this is not always guaranteed.

The government detail that voluntary contributions do not always increase state pensions but they do not provide much detail on the contexts.

To find out if voluntary contributions will make a difference, the government state that the Future Pension Centre should be contacted.

This specific department can be contacted by telephone, text or post.
The state detail that national insurance records should be checked before any actions are taken.
Checking on this will be formed of three elements, people will find out:

  • if they have any gaps
  • if they’re eligible to pay voluntary contributions
  • how much it will cost

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Voluntary national insurance contributions can usually be backdated by six years depending on age.

People will not be able to pay voluntary contributions if they’re:

  • eligible for national insurance credits
  • a married woman or widow paying reduced rates (under the small stamp system)


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Voluntary national insurance contributions will be paid either through the class two or class three system.

However, it should be noted that voluntary contributions cannot be done without cost.

For the 2019 to 2020 tax year class two contributions will be charged at £3 a week.

Class three contributions will face a higher charge of £15 a week.

In some cases it may be the case that HMRC have recorded national insurance contributions incorrectly.

If anyone feels that this is the case they are advised to contact HMRC as soon as possible.

National insurance circumstances can be complicated and so it may be advisable to seek professional advice.

Experts will be able to provide guidance but they will likely charge a fee.

The self-employed should pay particular attention to their national insurance plans as they can pay it under completely different systems. While most workers pay national insurance automatically through their paychecks, the self-employed will be required to pay it manually through a self-assessment.

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