When can I claim it?

You can claim State Pension when you reach the qualifying age. This is now the same for all genders. State Pension age is gradually increasing and reached 66 on 6th October 2020. More increases are planned after this. The gov.uk website can tell you when you’ll reach State Pension age.

Changes to the State Pension

Changes to the State Pension were introduced on 6 April 2016. The new system replaces basic and Additional State Pensions with one new pension.

The new State Pension rules only apply to people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016. If you reached State Pension age before that, you will be claiming under the old system (basic and Additional State Pension), even if you deferred your claim.

Who can claim the State Pension

Getting the State Pension is based on your National Insurance (NI) contributions. You might have gained these by paying NI while working, claiming NI credits while claiming certain benefits (such as unemployment benefits), or making voluntary NI contributions. To be able to get your State Pension, you’ll need NI contributions for a certain amount of years. How many depends on whether you qualify for the basic State Pension or the new State Pension.

The basic State Pension

  • You reached State Pension age between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2016.
  • You need 30 qualifying years of NI contributions to get the full amount of State Pension. If you have fewer than this, the amount you'll get depends on how many qualifying years you have.
  • If you’re not eligible for a full State Pension, you might be able to claim additional pension 'top-ups' by using your spouse or civil partner’s NI contributions. This won’t be available to you if you were self-employed.

The new State Pension

  • You reached your State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.
  • You need 35 or more qualifying years of NI contributions to get a full State Pension. If you’ve got between 10 and 35 qualifying years, you’ll get a proportion of the full State Pension. If you’ve got under 10 years, you usually won’t get anything.
  • You won’t be able to claim from your spouse or civil partner’s NI contributions anymore. If you are widowed or divorced there may be exceptions.
  • If you were ‘contracted out’ of Additional State Pension during your working life (for exammple, if you paid into certain workplace pensions instead) the amount you get under the new State Pension will be reduced - see gov.uk for more information on contracting out.

Gov.uk has more information on what counts as a qualifying year, or contact the Pension Service for advice.

How much will I get?

If you qualified for the State Pension before 6 April 2016, the full basic State Pension is £134.25 a week (2020/21 rate).

If you qualify for the State Pension on or after 6 April 2016, the full new State Pension is £175.20 a week (2020/21 rate).

The exact rate you receive will depend on your National Insurance record. As long as you’re at least 30 days away from reaching State Pension age, you can get a personalised estimate of your State Pension. This will tell you how much you’re likely to get based on your current National Insurance record.

How to claim your State Pension

You need to make a claim for your pension – you won’t receive it automatically. You should be contacted about this four months before you reach State Pension age. If you haven’t been contacted three months before, call the State Pension claim line (0800 731 7898).

  • online
  • by calling the State Pension claim line on 0800 731 7898
  • by filling in the State Pension claim form and sending it to your local pension centre – download this or request a form by phoning the claim line
  • claim from abroad by contacting the International Pension Centre.

You can also defer claiming your State Pension. For each year you defer, your State Pension will be boosted by 5.8% under the new State Pension, or 10.4% under the old system. You can delay for at least 9 weeks with the new State Pension and at least 5 weeks under the old system.

Underpaid State Pensions

If you qualify for basic State Pension and can claim State Pension ‘top-ups’ (see above), they’re usually calculated for you. However, some people – particularly married, divorced and widowed women – may have had their State Pension miscalculated and underpaid.

If you think you’re affected, contact the Pension Service to ask them to recalculate your State Pension. You can do this whether you’re claiming or delaying your State Pension.

Next steps

For more information, read our factsheet The State Pension.

If you’ve reached State Pension age and your income is low, check if you could be getting Pension Credit.


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