The State Pension is a good place to start looking to maximise your income in retirement, therefore, if you are not on track for the full amount it’s worth considering topping up. Last month, we looked at the options for those already receiving State Pension.
The new State Pension is supposed to be “simple” and it may be for those just starting work, but for everyone else the level of pension you receive will be based on elements of the old system.
The amount of the State Pension you get is based on your National Insurance Contributions (NICs) record. You can contact the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898 to ask for details of your NICs record. If you are not entitled to a full State Pension and have gaps in your NIC record, you may be able to top up your State Pension via Class 3 contributions or Class 2 contributions for the self-employed. A table showing the groups who may be eligible to pay can be found at https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/who-can-pay-voluntary-contributions.
You can normally go back up to 6 years so for 2010/11, you have to do this by 5 April 2017. The amount you have to pay for an extra qualifying year depends on how much you have already paid for that year and rates apply for each year. It costs up to £733.20 of Class 3 contributions to buy an extra qualifying year of NICs, in order to buy an extra £206.79 a year pension. It therefore takes less than 4 years of receiving the higher State Pension to recoup this cost.
There are a variety of ways to pay including sending a cheque, paying at your bank, online, over the phone or monthly via Direct Debit. You can find more details at https://www.gov.uk/pay-voluntary-class-3-national-insurance/overview
Autonomy Wealth View: Unlike the options for those who reached State Pension Age before April 2016, the qualifying criteria and options are much more complicated. Fortunately, Royal London has produced a comprehensive guide to the subject which can be found here.