National insurance contributions are typically made by individuals by employed and self-employed individuals and are based on their earnings. Some individuals also receive NI credits if they are eligible.
Your National Insurance record is made up of contributions and/or credits made throughout your working life. They contribute to your future entitlement to the state pension and other benefits. If you dont have enough contributions, the UK government allow you to make voluntary contributions to gain full or higher state pension rates. However, there is a deadline to do this.
In this blog, we look at why you should check your national insurance record and consider making voluntary contributions if you have gaps in your NI record.
The new state pension rules
- In April 2016, the introduction of the new state pension stipulated that to qualify for the maximum new state pension, a person must have 35 qualifying years of NI contributions.
- For part payment of the ‘new state pension’ a person must have contributed for at least 10 years.
- Different rules may apply for those whose NI record started before 6 April 2016, as the number of required years of NI contributions/credits to obtain the full state pension may be higher.
Check your National Insurance record
You can check your National Insurance record online to see:
- What you’ve paid up to the start of the current tax year (6 April 2023)
- Any National Insurance credits youve received
- If gaps in contributions or credits mean some years do not count towards your State Pension (they are not ‘qualifying years’)
- If you can pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps and how much this will cost
Government Gateway User ID
You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to check your National Insurance record. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one before you check your record.
Personal tax account
Signing in to the ‘Check your National Insurance record’ service activates your personal tax account. You can use this to check your HMRC records and manage your other details.
Gaps in your National Insurance record
Some individuals dont pay National Insurance for some periods, for example when on a low income or taking a career break to care for children or elderly relatives.
For those who have missing NI years between 2006 and 2016, there is a time limit to plug the gaps in your national insurance record. This may be more important for people with fewer years left to work, about to reach state pension age and may run out of time to contribute enough during the rest of their working life.
If you think you may have gaps, you can can check whether this affects your entitlement to the full state pension. This service will allow you to find out:
- How much State Pension you could get
- When you can get it
- How to increase it, and if you can increase it
Making voluntary National Insurance contributions
You may want to pay voluntary contributions because:
- You’re close to the State Pension age and do not have enough qualifying years to get the full State Pension.
- You know you will not be able to get the qualifying years you need to get the full State Pension during your working life.
- You’re self-employed, file Self Assessment tax returns and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because you have low profits.
- You live outside the UK but want to qualify for some benefits.
It is worth noting that making voluntary national insurance contributions may not always increase your state pension. Seek professional advice before you decide to make voluntary contributions.
The deadline was extended for paying voluntary contributions
Usually, its only possible to make voluntary contributions for the past six tax years. However, the Government put a scheme in place that allowed individuals to fill gaps in their NIC history from 6 April 2006 to the present date by making voluntary contributions.
This deadline for making additional contributions back to 2006 was originally April 2023. However, due to high volumes of traffic and capacity problems on government HMRC helplines, the deadline has been extended until 5 April 2025.
Qualifying years if youre working
When you’re working, you pay National Insurance and get a qualifying year if:
- you’re employed and earning over £242 a week from one employer
- you’re self-employed and paying National Insurance contributions
You might not pay National Insurance contributions because you earn less than £242 weekly. You may still get a qualifying year if you earn between £123 and £242 a week from one employer. This applies to many directors and spouses working through their limited companies.
Qualifying years if youre not working & National Insurance credits
Some individuals qualify for free National Insurance credits. This – for example, if they are on working tax credit, universal credit or carers allowance. A full list of the eligibility criteria for the free National Insurance credits is available on this area of the Gov.uk site.
Can I use my partners contributions?
You may be able to:
- increase your basic State Pension through your spouse or civil partner
- inherit some of your spouse or civil partner’s State Pension when they die
The additional amount youll get is based on your spouses or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions.
Youre not working or getting National Insurance credits
If youre not working or getting credits, you can also top up your National Insurance with voluntary contributions.
How much State Pension will I get?
Claiming State Pension while you work
Reaching the State Pension age doesn’t mean you have to give up work. You can continue working and still receive your State Pension. Any money you earn will not affect your State Pension but may affect your entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credits, Housing Benefits and Council Tax Reductions.
If you dont claim the State Pension straight away
If you delay (defer) taking your State Pension, youll get larger weekly payments when you start taking it.
What should you do next?
- Check your NI record
- Check your state pension entitlement
- Identify any NIC gaps you may have
- Consider if you would benefit by making voluntary national insurance contributions - seek advice on this
- If you want to make voluntary NI contributions, do so before 5 April 2025 to plug the gap as far back as 6 April 2006.
With people having problems getting through to HMRC helplines and wanting to understand if they qualify for a full state pension, it is welcome news that people have been given nearly two extra years to plug gaps in their national insurance (NI) record going back to April 2006, following another deadline extension until 5th April 2025.
For more help and advice on National Insurance, call our team on 03300 886 686 or email on email@example.com.
Any questions? Schedule a call with one of our experts.
Whether you prefer to meet and speak over the internet, or if you prefer an in person conversation we can help you with your preference.
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