Understanding the basic State Pension
The basic State Pension is a pension paid to you by the Government when you reach State Pension age. It is based on the number of qualifying years gained through National Insurance contributions (NICs) you've paid, are treated as having paid or have been credited with throughout your working life.
What is your State Pension age?
If entitled, you can get the basic State Pension when you reach State Pension age.
You will have to claim your State Pension.
State Pension age is currently 65 for men born on or before 6 December 1953 and 65 for women born on or after 6 April 1950.
From December 2018, for both men and women, State Pension Age will increase and rise to 66 in October 2020.
You will be affected by this if you are:
- a woman born on or after 6 April 1953
- a man born on or after 6 December 1953
State Pension age will increase for both men and women to 67 between 2034 and 2036. It will increase to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
However, planned legislation announcedin November 2011 will increase the State Pension age to 6 between 2026 and 2028. This change will become law once it receives approval of Parliament.
Are you entitled to the basic State Pension?
You can get a basic State Pension by building up enough 'qualifying years' before State Pension age.
What are qualifying years?
Qualifying years are tax years where you have sufficient income to pay NICs, or are treated as having paid or being credited with NICs.
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.
If you earn less than these amounts, you won't qualify. This does not apply to parents and carers.
How many qualifying years do you need?
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.
If you've been a parent or carer
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 reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010, HRP has been replaced with National Insurance credits.
Up to 22 years of HRP built up before 6 April 2010 will count as qualifying years of National Insurance credits.
If you've been claiming benefit
You will have automatically received National Insurance credits (for the weeks when you've been claiming) if you've been receiving certain benefits, such as:
- Carer's Allowance
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance contribution based (if you have paid enough NICs)
- Contact the National Insurance Contributions Office
How much is the basic State Pension?
In 2011-12, the full basic State Pension is £102.15 a week.
The full basic State Pension for a married man, woman or civil partner using their wife's husband's, or civil partner's National Insurance contributions is £61.20 a week.
A married man, woman or civil partner who qualifies with their own NI contributions will receive £102.15 a week.
In all cases, your individual circumstances may affect the amount you get.
A State Pension forecast will tell you the current value of your State Pension and the amount you may get at State Pension age.
Over 80 Pension
This is available to you if:
- you are aged 80 or more
- you have little or no State Pension
- you meet the residency conditions
For more information read The Over 80 Pension
If you are or have been married or in a civil partnership
You may be entitled to some basic State Pension through the National Insurance record of either:
- your spouse or civil partner
- your former or late spouse or civil partner
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're single
- £209.70 if you're a couple
If you're aged over 65 you may be entitled to an additional:
- £20.52 a week if you are single
- £27.09 if you have a partner
Claiming your State Pension
For more on claiming the basic State Pension, how its paid, putting off claiming until later and what to do if your circumstances change, follow the link below.
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