National Insurance explained National Insurance credits

child putting coin into a piggy bank

Parents who receive Child Benefit will automatically receive National Insurance Credits if their child is under 12 years old

National Insurance credits are a way of maintaining your National Insurance record when you are not making National Insurance contributions. 

They help to build up 'qualifying years'- which count towards your entitlement for basic state pension. In some cases they also count towards other benefits.

Here, we'll explain how the credits work and when you might get them.

Who gets National Insurance credits?  

Generally, those who qualify for National Insurance credits are not making National Insurance contributions, because they are not in paid employment. 

This can be because they are taking time out to look after children, or because they are unemployed or ill. You can also receive National Insurance credits when you are on an approved training course or doing jury service. 

Childcare and National Insurance credits 

Parents (aged over 16) who receive Child Benefit and are caring for a child under the age of 12 receive National Insurance credits automatically. Those on Carer's Allowance or Income Support also qualify. 

These credits are known as 'Class 3 National Insurance credits', and build your entitlement to state pension and bereavement benefit.

Find out more: Child Benefit explained - find out what you're entitled to as a parent

Grandparents and other family members aged over 16 but under state pension age, who provide care for a child aged under 12 may also be able to get Class 3 Specified Adult National Insurance credits. 

These are not credited automatically but need to be applied for (using form CF411A).

Find out more: How to I qualify for state pension - read up on state pension ages and when you qualify 

Carers and National Insurance credits

Registered carers, and those looking after someone who is sick or disabled for 20 hours a week or more, can receive Class 3 National Insurance credits if the person they care for receives the following benefits: 

  • Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
  • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
  • A Care Certificate

If you are not receiving Carer's Allowance, you have to apply for National Insurance credits.

Find out more: Long term care - understand what financial help is available to someone who needs care

Unemployment and National Insurance credits   

If you are not working, you can get what's known as 'Class 1 National Insurance credits'. 

To qualify, you must be unemployed and receiving Jobseeker's Allowance. You're not credited automatically but need to apply for National Insurance credits.

Illness, disability and National Insurance credits 

If you are unable to work due to illness or disability, you can get National Insurance credits if you receive the following benefits 

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Unemployability Supplement or Allowance. 

You should be credited automatically. 

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Last updated:

April 2016

Updated by:

Ian Robinson

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