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

What is state pension age?

For men it’s 65 years and it’s gradually increasing for women - currently it’s 63, which increases to 65 by November 2018. From December 2018, the state pension age will rise for both men and women. In October 2020, it will be 66 and it will rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

The precise age you become entitled to the state pension depends on when you were born.

Use the Which? Money State pension age calculator to find out when you’ll be entitled to claim your state pension. 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 changed in 2016. If you retired before 6 April 2016, the full state pension amount is £125.95 per week (2018-19) and to qualify for the full amount, you needed 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 retired after 6 April 2016, you'll be receiving the new state pension which is a flat-rate amount each week of £164.35 (2018-19), but the number of years required to qualify for the full amount has increased to 35 and there are also other factors to take into consideration. 

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 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 four months before you reach state pension age. You'll 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 state pension claim line on 0800 731 7898 or by textphone on 0800 731 7339 (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. If you fill in your claim online, you need to sign up for a government gateway account. If you don't already have one you will need to wait a week to receive your activation code by post. The form is long, so set aside a reasonable amount of time to fill it in. 
In Northern Ireland, the application procedure is slightly different. You’ll need to visit this site to claim.

More information

Page last reviewed: April 2018