We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies as per our policy which also explains how to change your preferences.

How much state pension will I get?

The rules on how much state pension you can get are complicated, and they all changed in April 2016. Here we explain how it works.

In this article
How much new state pension will I get in 2018/19? How much basic state pension will I get in 2018/19? How much state pension will I get if I qualified on or after 6 April 2016? How is my state pension calculated? How much state pension are people getting?
How can I boost my state pension? When can I claim state pension? How do I get a state pension forecast? State pension FAQ

How much new state pension will I get in 2018/19?

The state pension rules changed radically on 6 April 2016, for men born on or after 6 April 1951 and women born on or after 6 April 1953.

There is a 'single tier' pension payment for people in this age group with a 'full level'.

In 2018/19, the full level of the new state pension is £164.35 a week (£8,546.20 a year), up from £159.55 a week (£8,297 a year) in 2017/18. 

You may get more or less than this. We've explained why in more detail below

Because of the changes to the state pension, you can no longer build up an additional state pension - nor can you 'contract out' of it to get a higher private pension. 

And you only qualify for a full state pension once you have 35 years' worth of National Insurance contributions. Previously it was 30 years' worth. 

To get any state pension at all, you need 10 years of National Insurance contributions.

 

How much basic state pension will I get in 2018/19?

If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, the changes don’t affect you. 

In this case, the basic state pension rises to £125.95 a week (£6,549.40 a year) in 2018/19, up from £122.30 a week (£6,360 a year) in 2017/18.

If you’re married, and both you and your partner have built up state pension, you’ll get double this amount – so £251.90 a week. 

But if your partner hasn’t built up their own state pension, they'll still be able to claim a state pension based on your record.

You may also have built up some additional state pension, previously known as the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (Serps) or state second pension (S2P).

If you did so, you’ll get more than £125.95 a week. The maximum you can is £172.28, in addition to the basic state pension. 

How much state pension will I get if I qualified on or after 6 April 2016?

If you reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2016, the starting point for calculating what you get is the ‘full level’ of the new state pension of £164.35. 

But the name is confusing, because you may get more or less than this.

  • If you have made full National Insurance payments, building up additional state pension, you’re likely to get more. 
  • If you ‘contracted out’ and paid reduced National Insurance contributions for several years, you’re likely to get less.

You’ll get whichever is higher - the amount you would have got on the last day of the old system, or the amount you would get had the new system been in place over the whole of your working life.

Government estimates show that only around half of those retiring over the next year will qualify for the full state pension. Our short video explains how this works. 

What was ‘contracting out’?

To cut the bill for the state pension, the government previously allowed pension savers to 'contract out' of being part of the second state pension scheme.

You paid less National Insurance (NI) and didn't get the additional state pension, and the money you saved in NI was put into your workplace or private pension.

What if I’ve been contracted out?

If you were contracted out, you've been making NI contributions at a reduced rate (in a final salary scheme), or receiving a rebate into your pension (in a ‘defined contribution’ scheme, where you build up a pension pot).

Under the new system, as with the old one, those who contracted out will get less state pension than those who didn’t.

Millions of workers will also start to pay higher National Insurance as the end of contracting out in final salary schemes means they now pay full NI contributions.

If you were contracted out but carry on working for a number of years after 2016, making full-rate NI contributions, you can build up further state pension until you reach the full level of new state pension (£164.35).

What if I’ve been mainly contracted in?

The new rules mean that no one will lose any additional state pension they've accrued by making full National Insurance contributions.

Whichever value is the highest, under the old or new system, that will be your starting amount. If this is more than the new maximum full level of state pension (£164.35), you’ll get the higher amount.

Find out more in our detailed guide to contracting out of the second state pension. 

How is my state pension calculated?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) applies a formula, taking into account the number of full National Insurance years you have, contracted-out periods and the additional state pension you’ve accrued, to work out have much state pension you’re due.

If you’ve never been contracted out, or earned any additional state pension, calculating how much you’ll get is much simpler.

For example, say you have 25 qualifying years on your National Insurance record.

You divide £164.35 by 35 and then multiply by 25. Your new state pension will be about £117.35 per week.

What is the Contracted-Out Pension Equivalent?

Forecasts from the DWP include an additional element entitled COPE – the Contracted-Out Pension Equivalent. COPE is the equivalent of the additional state pension you would have got if you had not been contracted out

So you won’t get this as part of your state pension, but should get it instead from your workplace or personal pension scheme for the periods you were contracted out.

This is clearly quite a broad estimate and the exact amount your scheme will pay you as a result of contracting-out as it will depend on the actual rules of your private scheme, and possibly any investment choices you may make.

How much state pension are people getting?

The new state pension system was introduced to be fairer and less complex.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions now show how much people are getting under the new state pension compared to the old system (accurate to November 2017).

Certain groups are better off under the new system, whereas some will lose out from the changes. 

Better off

  • women, carers and the low paid who haven’t built up additional state pension
  • self-employed people who didn’t qualify for state second pension
  • people who were contracted out and can access their private pensions at age 55
  • workers contracted out who have time to build up years of full NI contributions.New state pension losers

Worse off, or no better off

  • people with less than 10 years of NI qualifying years
  • people with more than 35 years’ worth of full NI contributions
  • high earners who won’t be able to build up more additional state pension (ASP)
  • younger employees who will no longer be able to build up ASP
  • spouses, civil partners, widows and widowers who will no longer be able to claim or inherit a state pension based on a partner’s NI contributions
  • those already drawing the state pension won’t be affected

How can I boost my state pension?

Your new state pension will be based on your National Insurance record when you reach state pension age.

You can increase what you’ll get by adding to your National Insurance record before reaching this age. You can carry on working and paying National Insurance contributions until you meet state pension age.

You can also apply for National Insurance credits, which can fill gaps in your record. You can also do this by paying voluntary contributions.

Finally, you can defer your state pension, which allows you to increase up your state pension by delaying when you take it.

When can I claim state pension?

You can claim state pension when you reach state pension age. For men this is currently 65. For women, state pension age has started to rise, from 60 in 2010 to 65 in November 2018.

Use our state pension age calculator to find out when you'll receive it.

From December 2018 state pension age will rise for both men and women, until it reaches 66 in October 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028. 

It will rise to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

If you live in the UK, you won’t receive your state pension automatically when you reach state pension age. You’ll get a letter four months before you retire, which will detail how you can claim.

There are three ways you can claim your state pension:

  • Over the phone, by calling the State Pension claim line (0800 731 7898).
  • Online, by registering with Government Gateway  via the Department for Work and Pensions website (it takes about seven days for your Government Gateway user ID and activation code to arrive in the post).
  • By downloading the state pension claim form and sending it to your local pension centre. You can find this form on the government’s website.

How do you qualify for the state pension? - read our guide to eligibility

How do I get a state pension forecast?

You can currently get a state pension forecast from the DWP to find out how much state pension you may get and the number of qualifying years on your National Insurance record.

The forecast gives you an estimate of what you can expect in terms of your state pension based on your National Insurance contributions. 

To get a statement, call 0345 3000 168, go to gov.uk/state-pension-statement, or write to The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU.

State pension FAQ

What state pension can a widow or widower inherit?

It depends. You need to be over state pension age to claim extra payments from your deceased husband, wife or civil partner’s state pension.

What you get will depend on whether you reached state pension age before or after 6 April 2016.

If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, you’ll get any state pension based on your husband, wife or civil partner’s National Insurance contribution when you claim your own pension.

New state pension payments, meanwhile, are based on your own NI record – rather than that of your husband, wife or civil partner – although you can still inherit extra under certain conditions.

Is the state pension taxable?

Yes, any state pension you receive is liable to income tax as it’s paid to you gross (without any tax deducted).

The amount of income tax that you pay depends on your total gross income (taxable income that you receive from all sources, including other pensions, investments and interest from savings). 

You don’t pay any income tax on your gross income up to your personal allowance (for the tax year 2018-19 it is £11,850)

Can the state pension be paid quarterly?

Yes. Payment can be made weekly, or at the end of every 4 or 13 weeks. However, if you're paid less than £5 per week, you'll only get paid every 52 weeks.

State pension is normally paid into a bank, building society, or Post Office card account.

Can the state pension be claimed abroad?

You can receive your UK state pension when you are living overseas.

If you move overseas after you have started to receive your state pension, and payment is made directly into your bank or building society, the payments can continue, but you should let the pension service know when you are going to leave the UK.

For the 1.2 million retirees living overseas and collecting the UK state pension, there is a huge variation in how much they’ll be getting – and it’s dictated by the country they’ve ended up in.

People living abroad may have paid for their state pension all or most of their working lives, but it may be frozen if they live in one of 150 countries around the world where there is no annual index-linked rise (including Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

Moving to a country in the European Economic Area, or one with a social security agreement with the UK, will mean your pension goes up each year

Can the state pension be backdated?

You have to actively claim the state pension – it will not be automatically paid to you.

If you start your claim in the first 12 months after you reached state pension age, you can ask that the claim is backdated to when your entitlement started.

However, if you start your claim over 12 months after you reached state pension age, you will be treated as having deferred your pension and will get the normal uplift of 1% for every nine weeks until you do decide to claim it.

Will the state pension age rise again?

Yes. From December 2018, the state pension age will rise for both men and women, until it reaches 66 in October 2020 and 67 between 2026 and 2028.

The state pension age increase to 68 is now being implemented from 2037, rather than 2044 as previously planned.

The change, which will be brought in over two years, will affect everyone born between 6 April 1970 and 5 April 1978, who under current legislation had been due to retire at 67 but will now work a year longer.

The Which? Money Helpline offers independent one-to-one guidance on a range of topics including the state pension. 

If you're not a Which? member, and you'd like to get unlimited access to our Money Helpline experts, you can try Which? Money for two months for £1.