State pension UK: How to check on National Insurance records as thousands are underpaid

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State pension income requires at least 10 years of qualifying National Insurance contributions, with 35 years needed for the full amount of £179.60 per week. Adrian Lowery, a personal finance expert at Bestinvest, has urged Britons to check on their records to make sure they receive what they’re entitled to in retirement.

He said: “Those approaching retirement who have had breaks from paid work and therefore gaps in their National Insurance payment record should check where they stand on the state pension, if they want to receive the new full flat rate.

“This can be done by plugging their NI number into the appropriate page of the Gov.UK website.

“If you have fallen short it might then be possible to top up contributions in order to receive the full state pension when you retire.

“For those already retired, make sure you are receiving the state pension you are due.

“Many women are not, in underpayment errors that have been exposed in the last two years, and which could exceed 100,000 cases.

“Married women who hit state pension age before April 2016, including widows, divorcees and the over-80s – whether married or not – should check if they are receiving the headline state pension payment that they are entitled to (given their year of retirement). And if not they should contact the Pension Service.”

People can check on their National Insurance record online to see what they’ve paid up to the start of the current tax year (April 6 2021). They can also check on any National Insurance credits they may have received.

If there are gaps in contributions or credits it will mean some years will not count towards a state pension.

While voluntary contributions can be made to fill these gaps it should be noted the National Insurance record tool does not cover how much state pension the user is likely to get.

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Before using this tool, people will need a Government Gateway user ID and password to check on their National Insurance record. If a person does not have a user ID, they can create one when they check their record.

Signing in to the “Check your National Insurance record” service will also activate their personal tax account. They can use this to check their HMRC records and manage their other details.

It is also possible to request a printed National Insurance statement online or by phone.

People will need to say which years they want their statement to cover when doing this and it is not possible to request statements for the current or previous tax year.

Britons can also write directly to HMRC at: National Insurance contributions and Employers Office, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AN.

There are specific rules on what counts as a “qualifying year” of National Insurance contributions for state pensions.

When a person is working and paying National Insurance, they’ll get a qualifying year if they’re employed and earning over £184 a week from one employer or are self-employed and paying National Insurance contributions.

A person might not pay National Insurance contributions because they’re earning less than £184 a week, although they may still get a qualifying year if they earn between £120 and £184 a week from one employer.

Where people are not working, they may get National Insurance credits if they cannot work, for example because of illness or disability, or if they’re a carer.

Those who claim Child Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Carer’s Allowance may be eligible for National Insurance credits.

State pensions themselves can be claimed by those who are within four months of reaching their state pension age. For most people, this will be 66.

However, the state pension age will be rising over the coming years. It will reach 67 between 2026 and 2028 and it will hit 68 by 2046.

The quickest way to get a state pension is to apply online, however it is also possible to claim a state pension over the phone or through the post.

It is possible to claim a state pension even while still working and if a person delays their claim, they may even be able to boost their payments down the line.

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