The state pension is a regular payment from the government made to pensioners.

What is state pension age?

The state pension is available to people once they reach state pension age, regardless of savings or income. If you’ve paid in, you can take out.

For many years, the official state pension age was 65 for men and 60 for women. But the government plans to gradually increase the state pension age over the next few years. By 2020, both men and women will have to wait until they are 66 for their state pension. And, after that, it’s likely that the qualifying age could go up to 70 or more.

So the younger you are now, the longer you will have to work before getting your pension. Exactly what age you become entitled to the state pension depends on when you were born.

To help you find out what your state pension age is, use our calculator. This uses your date of birth to calculate when you’ll hit state pension age, and an estimate of how much you should be entitled to.

How much is the state pension?

The state pension system is changing. If you retired before 6 April 2016, the full state pension amount is £119.30 per week (2016-2017) and to qualify for the full amount, you must have at least 30 years-worth of National Insurance contributions or ‘credits’ (where contributions are paid by the government during periods of unemployment, maternity leave or caring, for example).

If you retire after 6 April 2016, you'll be receiving the new state pension which is a flat-rate amount each week of £155.65 (2016-2017), but the number of years required to qualify for the full amount is going up to 35 and there are also other factors to take into consideration. Which? Money explains more about the the new system on this page.

What do I need to know about the state pension?

  • You’ll have to pay tax on your pension if your total income (including work, income from property, private and state pensions) is more than your annual tax-free allowance. Personal allowances change each year and are dependent on age. For more details, see this page on the GOV.UK website.
  • If you decide to carry on working past the official retirement age, you can still claim your state pension. But if you choose to defer payments, this can increase the amount that you get when you do eventually claim.
  • The state pension is included in the financial assessment for care at home or in a care home.

How do I get my state pension?

You need to apply for the state pension – it doesn’t arrive automatically. You should receive a letter at least four months before you reach state pension age. You will need this letter in order to complete your claim. If you don’t receive the letter, contact the pensions claim line.

To apply you need to fill in form BR1:
By phone: call the Pension Claim Line on 0800 731 7898 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, except public holidays) to complete questions over the phone.
Online: download and print a copy of the form here or fill in your claim online.
In Northern Ireland, the application procedure is slightly different. You’ll need to visit this site to claim.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2016
Next review due: 31 March 2017