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What is the state pension?

Find out what the state pension is, how you qualify and watch real people's experiences claiming the state pension

In this article
What is the state pension? Who’s eligible for state pension? When can I claim state pension? How much state pension do I get?
What is pension credit? Child benefit and state pension

What is the state pension?

The state pension is a weekly payment from the government that you receive when you reach state pension age. 

The amount you get will depend on how long you've been contributing towards it and the type of private pension you have. 

Watch our video with real retirees explaining how they've made the most of the state pension.

Who’s eligible for state pension?

In order to qualify for the state pension, you need make National Insurance contributions

You need a minimum of 10 years' worth of contributions to get anything at all. In order to get a full state pension you need to 35 years' worth of contributions. 

You may not have enough qualifying years because of gaps in your record. These can be caused by unemployment, being ill and not working, taking time off work for childcare or living abroad. 

If you don't have enough qualifying years, you can pay voluntary contributions.

When can I claim state pension?

The age at which you can claim is currently 65 for men and 63 for women. By 2018, the state pension age for all women will be 65.

By 2020 it will be 66 for both genders, and it's due to become 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039. 

Use our state pension age calculator to see when you qualify for it.

How much state pension do I get?

The amount you receive depends on your circumstances and when you qualified for the state pension. 

The basic state pension is £125.95 in 2018/19, up from £122.30 in 2017/18. This applies to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

If you're employed, you might also have built up some additional state pension, based upon your earnings during your career, meaning many people get more than the basic state pension.

The  rules changed in April 2016. 

The basic and additional state pensions were replaced by a single-tier state pension, with a 'full level' of new state pension of £164.35 in 2018/19, up from £159.55 in 2017/18.

You might get more or less than this. If you've built up some additional state pension, you'll get a higher amount.

You may have been opted out of the additional state pension - called 'contracting out'. This saw you give up the option of building up additional state pension in return for a bigger private pension.

If you were contracted out for a long period, you might get less than the 'full level' of new state pension

Find out the details in our 'how much state pension will I get?' guide.

What is pension credit?

Pension credit makes sure that people over the state pension age have a minimum income. It's split into savings credit and guarantee credit. 

Savings credit is worth £13.40 a week per person, and guarantee credit tops up your basic state pension to £163 a week. 

Those qualifying for the state pension after 6 April 2016 will not be eligible for the savings credit element of the pension credit. 

Child benefit and state pension

If you decide to take time off work to raise a young family, you can claim child benefit up until your youngest child's 12th birthday. 

During this time, you will get National Insurance credits. If you’re working and claiming child benefit, you could end up building up more NICs than you need. 

You can transfer these to your partner.