The Basic State Pension – Qualifying and Claiming

The basic state pension is a government administered pension 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.

Qualification For Basic State Pension

The current state pension age for men is 65. For women born after 6th April 1950 the state pension age is also 65. State pension ages are increasing and will rise to 66, 67 and then eventually 68 for both men and women. There is a chart on the government website here which gives a breakdown.

You qualify by building up enough ‘qualifying years’ before state pension age. A qualifying year is a tax year in which you have sufficient earnings upon which you have paid, are treated has having paid or have been credited with, National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

In 2017-18, you need to have minimum weekly earnings of £157 if you are an employee or £2.85 per week or more if you are self-employed. The number of qualifying years is equal to about 90% of your working life, calculated from the start of the tax year when you reach 16 to the end of the tax year before the one in which you reach state pension age.

If you have not paid enough NICs because you have been looking after children or caring for someone long-term, the number of qualifying years will be reduced. This is known as ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’.

If you have been receiving certain benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Incapacity Benefit, you’ll have automatically received NICs for the weeks when you’ve been claiming. More details can be obtained from the National Insurance Contributions Office.

How Much is The Basic State Pension?

For 2017-18, the basic state pension (if you qualify) is £122.30 a week but your individual circumstances may affect the amount you receive. The new state pension is £159.55.

If you have fewer than 25% of the qualifying years, you’re not normally entitled to any basic state pension but you can get a non-contributory or ‘over 80’ pension if you are 80 years of age or more and meet the residency conditions.

If you’re aged 65 or over and living in Great Britain, the government’s pension credit could top up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum of £159.55

Claiming Your State Pension

The pension service should automatically send you a claim form 4 months before you reach state pension age. If you haven’t received this form 3 months before your birthday, you can call the Pension Service and request a form or simply download one from their website, complete it and return it to your local pension centre. You don’t have to claim your basic state pension as soon as you reach state pension age. If you wish, you can put off claiming it and get a higher weekly amount later or have the option of a one-off taxable lump sum payment instead.

8 thoughts on “The Basic State Pension – Qualifying and Claiming

  1. macytoo says:

    I am a British citizen and am eligible for a pension in Germany. I have lived here for 40 years. Study years are added as pension credits in Germany. However, I studied for 5 years and graduated in Great Britain. Now my question – Are study years credited at all pension wise in GB and then transferred and added to pension credits in other countries? This issue doesn’t seem to be clear here.Thanking you for any advice.

  2. N/A says:

    I will be sixty in March 2015 I have a twelve hour weekly contract at work. Some weeks I do extra hours if my hours went down to contracted hours of twelve would that affect my state pension.I am very worried about it. Your Sincerley Linda Cox (Mrs)

  3. Regina says:

    I am Polish and came to UK in August 2010, I have worked fulltime and also part time with periods of Job Seekers inbetween, I currently only work 12hrs a week and cannot get another job to increase my hours. I am claiming nothing, no benefits at all. I live with a friend. My birthday is 28/05/1953. I shall remain in UK for the remainder of my life, what entitlement to a pension am I eligible for? I am very worried

  4. JACKY says:

    i am 52 years old and have paid my ni for over 30 years but now I am not in good health and struggle with full time work , recently I have been told I could claim 75% of my state pension and work up to 16 hours a week, is this correct ?

  5. Da says:

    I had a letter from The Pension Service very recently saying that they have been looking into my pension credit and the information they hold shows that my partner and I have not yet claimed our State Pension that we are both entitled to. I have been retired for 10 years now and thought the payment I have been receiving for the past 10 years was our Basic State Pension and was absolutely horrified to learn of this! The next paragraph of their letter says if I do not claim the State Pensions it could result in the amount of State Pension we are both entitled to being taken into account on the Pension Credit calculation, even though we do not currently receive any money for our State Pension and this would have the effect of reducing the amount of Pension Credit we are currently receiving. What should we do in these circumstances as we are totally confused and need advice? I am 75 and my wife is 70. I would be very grateful for any advice or information that you could give us. Thanking you.

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