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What is the state pension?

Find out what the state pension is, how you qualify and hear real people's experiences of 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 depends on several factors, including your record of National Insurance contributions.

Watch our video to hear how retirees are making 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 start claiming the state pension is currently 66 for men and women.

It will rise to 67 by 2028, and 68 between 2037 and 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 £137.60 a week in 2021-22. This applies to people who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

However, many people get more than the basic state pension, because they have also built up some additional state pension, which is based upon your earnings during your career.

The rules changed in April 2016. 

The basic and additional state pensions were replaced by a single-tier state pension. The full level of the new state pension is £179.60 a week in 2021-22.

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 meant you gave 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

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 £13.97 a week per person, and guarantee credit tops up your basic state pension to £173.75 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 that count towards your state pension entitlement. 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. 

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