State pension explained How much state pension will I get?

To work out your pension entitlement, you need to know the rules.      

The state pension is a valuable foundation on which to build your retirement income, together with any workplace or personal pension provision you have. 

If you work, you're required to contribute, and if you don’t work, you might be making voluntary contributions, or being credited as though you were contributing.

This guide explains how much state pension you're entitled to, and when to claim it. 

How much state pension will I get?

There are two parts to the state pension – the basic state pension, which almost everyone gets, and the additional state pension, which is only for employees. You qualify for the basic state pension by reaching state pension age and making 30 years' worth of National Insurance contributions.

Basic state pension

The basic state pension is worth £115.95 a week for a single person in 2015/16 (or £6,029 a year).

If you’re married, and both you and your partner have built up state pension, you’ll get double this amount – so £231.90 a week. But if your partner has not built up their own state pension, they'll still be able to claim a state pension based on your record. 

If your income is below a certain level, you can boost it by claiming pension credit. This will take your income up to £151.20 a week for a single person and £230.85 a week for a couple (in 2015/16). 

Go further: How to increase your retirement income - a range of tips to help boost your funds

Topping up the state pension

In April 2014, it was announced that those retiring before the flat-rate state pension is due to start in April 2016 will be able to gain additional state pension by paying so-called Class 3A voluntary National Insurance contributions between October 2015 and April 2017.

To increase your state pension by £1 per week will cost £890 if you are 65 years old. The maximum you can top up your pension by is £25 per week, which would cost £22,250 at age 65. The cost of topping up falls as your age increases, so for a 70 year old an extra £1 per week costs £779, for a 75 year old it’s £674 and for someone aged 80 it costs £544.

2. How much additional state pension will I get?

You may also qualify for the additional state pension, also known as State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (Serps) or state second pension (S2P). 

The additional pension is based on your earnings. The maximum you could claim in 2014/15 was £163 a week on top of your basic state pension - taking your total to £276.10 a week.

Most people opted, or 'contracted', out of the additional state pension at some point in their working lives. 

Go further: State second pension and Serps - find out how much more you could get on your state pension

3. State pension reforms

The amount of state pension you get will change in April 2016. The basic and additional state pensions are going to be replaced by one flat-rate state pension, worth £148 a week in today's money. 

The additional pension and 'contracting out' will be abolished, and so will part of pension credit. Qualifying National Insurance years will also increase from 30 to 35 years.

This will be good news for the self-employed, who don’t currently qualify for second state pension, and for women, who may have gaps in their National Insurance records from caring for children – they will receive more state pension. 

But some people, like public sector workers in contracted out defined benefit, or final salary schemes, will see their National Insurance contributions rise - effectively meaning a pay cut for them.

Go further: What am I entitled to now I'm retired? - find out about all the benefits you're eligible for

4. When can I claim state pension?

You can claim state pension when you reach state pension age. For men this is currently 65. For women, state pension age has started to rise, from 60 in 2010 to 65 in November 2018. Use our state pension age calculator to find out when you'll receive it.

From December 2018 state pension age will rise for both men and women, until it reaches 66 in April 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028. After this, the state pension age will be linked to longevity, and will be reviewed every five years.

If you live in the UK, you won’t receive your state pension automatically when you reach state pension age. You’ll get a letter four months before you retire, which will detail how you can claim.

There are three ways you can claim your state pension:

  • Over the phone, by calling the State Pension claim line (0800 731 7898).
  • Online, by registering with Government Gateway  via the Department for Work and Pensions website (it takes about seven days for your Government Gateway user ID and activation code to arrive in the post).
  • By downloading the State Pension claim form and sending it to your local pension centre. You can find this form on the Government’s website.

Go further: How do I qualify for the state pension? - read our handy guide to see if you're eligible

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