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State pension

Find out about the state pension, including information on the state pension age and how much you’ll receive.
3 min read
In this article
How much is the state pension? What age do I get my state pension? What do I need to know about claiming the state pension? 
How do I claim my state pension? What happens to state pension if you move into a care home?

How much is the state pension?

The state pension system was transformed in 2016. That is why you’ll hear references to ‘new’ and ‘old’ state pension.

The new state pension is a single payment, while the old system involves a basic state pension, with an additional pension payment that some people are eligible for.

Old state pension

If you retired before 6 April 2016, the basic state pension in 2021-22 is:

£137.60 per week

Some people also qualify for additional state pension or ‘state second pension’.

New state pension

If you retired after 6 April 2016 (or plan to), you’ll receive the new state pension, which in 2021-22 is:

£179.60 per week

Currently, to qualify for the full amount, you’ll need to have paid National Insurance (NI) contributions for 35 years. But as long as you have at least 10 years’ of NI contributions, you’ll be entitled to receive a state pension. 

For more detailed information about how the payments are calculated, visit the Which? Money guide to the state pension

What age do I get my state pension?

The state pension age for women and men is currently 66. The state pension age is then scheduled to rise to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

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

The Which? Money State pension age calculator can quickly forecast when you’ll be entitled to claim your pension. It uses your date of birth to calculate when you’ll hit state pension age. It also points you to further information about how much you may get and how to maximise the benefit.

State pension age calculator
Use our calculator to find out when you can start claiming the state pension.

What do I need to know about claiming the state pension? 

You don’t have to stop working when you reach state pension age

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 not tax-free

If your total income (including pay, state pension, private pensions, income from property and so on) is more than your annual tax-free allowance, you’ll have to pay tax on your pension. Personal allowances change each year and are dependent on age.

For more information, visit the Which? Money guidance on personal allowances.

You may have to contribute some of your state pension towards care costs  

The state pension is included in the financial assessment for a care home or care at home.

 

Find out more about managing money in later life: 

How do I claim 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 to complete your claim. If you don’t receive the letter, call the state pensions claim line below. To apply, you need to either fill out the printable form BR1 or apply online.

Call the State Pension claim line to apply:

0800 731 7898

Mon–Fri, 8am–6pm, except public holidays

Download the form and print a paper copy to post:

View BR1 form

Fill out an interactive form online:

Online form

For an online application, you need to sign up for a Government Gateway account. If you don't already have one, you’ll 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 nidirect.gov.uk to claim.

What happens to state pension if you move into a care home?

When someone moves into a care home, their eligibility for state benefits may change. This will depend on whether they are paying for their own care (known as ‘self-funding’) or if a local authority is contributing to the costs.

Find out more about how paying for care may affect your benefits, pension and other income.

Use our directory to find local care homes, home care agencies and carer support services across the UK.

Further reading

Pension Credit

Pension Credit tops up your state pension if you have a low income. Find out who is eligible and how much you could get.

Benefits for older people

Read about the benefits available in later life: Attendance Allowance, PIP, Winter Fuel Payment and more.

Attendance Allowance

Read about Attendance Allowance and the payment rates, plus tips on applying and completing the form.

Last updated: 17 Apr 2021