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.