National Insurance explained Protecting your benefits
There can be gaps in your contributions record if you don't pay National Insurance, but in many circumstances you'll be 'credited' with contributions by HMRC.
National Insurance credits can help you qualify for certain contributory benefits, such as basic state pension, if you're unemployed or unable to work through sickness.
You usually get credits automatically, provided that you're drawing some kind of benefit.
Home responsibilities protection also helps protect basic pension entitlement for people receiving child benefit for a child under 16 or regularly caring for a sick or disabled person or a foster child.
Married woman's option
Until 11 May 1977, married or widowed women could either opt out of paying Class 2 NICs or pay a lower Class 1 rate – 4.85% of earnings between the earnings threshold and upper earnings limit and 1% above this.
Women who took up the option have been allowed to continue with it, unless they divorce.
The married woman's option means women do not build up a basic state pension in their own right, and are not eligible for other contributory state benefits and cannot pay Class 3 contributions voluntarily.
Their state pension is 60% of the husband's entitlement.
- For more, see the Which? guide to tax and your partner.
- Can you save on tax? We can show you 30 ways how to
- For any tax problems, call our experts on the Which? Money Helpline
For more, see the Which? guide to tax and your partner.