If you’re aged between 45 and 70, you may be missing years, worth thousands of pounds, off your state pension. It’s possible to buy missing years voluntarily and in some cases, they may be available for free, but this is time-sensitive so it’s worth checking your record.
What do we mean by “missing years”?
The state pension you eventually receive is based on the number of qualifying National Insurance (NI) years you have. You acquire these by working and earning more than the threshold, which is currently £123 a week. You can also be given NI credits, for example if you’re raising children or in some cases if you have a disability.
To get the full state pension you need around 35 full NI years. If you’re missing years, that could mean that you don’t get the full state pension when you retire. You could be missing years because you were abroad, or because you weren’t earning enough at the time.
How to access your National Insurance record
You can check your NI record on the Gov.UK website. To use this service, you’ll need to prove your identity using Government Gateway. You’ll be able to register for Government Gateway if you haven’t used it before.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a forecast for your state pension. Click the link to view your national insurance record, and this will bring up a list of years, showing either “full year” or “year is not full”.
What to do if you have missing years
If you have enough years to get you full state pension, there’s no need to fill in any gaps, but if you have a short fall there is action you can take. Until April 2023 you can buy NI years going back to 2006 – after that you can only go back 6 years, so it could be important to check as soon as possible.
You may be entitled to free NI credits if you:
were claiming benefits due to ill health or unemployment
were on maternity, paternity or adoption pay
were looking after a child under 12
were on an approved training course
were married to or a civil partner of a member of the armed forces and you went with your partner on an overseas posting
were serving a prison sentence for a conviction which was later quashed.
Claims for some credits can be backdated for many years, so it’s always worth checking to see if you qualify.
Is it worth paying for missing years?
Assuming you’re otherwise going to have a short fall when you retire, a voluntary NI year costs around £800 and will add £275 a year to your pension, so it will take three years of receiving your pension to break even, but there are complications. It’s always best to get a personalised calculation from the Government’s Future Pension Centre, so you can see where you stand based on your personal circumstances.
If you have questions or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468 185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org