Whether you fall under the new or old State Pension system, generally, it’s important to check your National Insurance record if you aren’t receiving the full amount of State Pension and believe that your working history should mean that you have paid enough contributions to receive this.
To receive the full new State Pension you’ll currently need to have built up 35 ‘qualifying years’ of National Insurance Contributions over your working life, compared to 30 years under the old system. The current new State Pension for those reaching retirement age on or after 6 April 2016 stands at £179.60 a week in the 2021/22 tax year (or £9,339 a year).
Bear in mind that if you were contracted out of the Additional State Pension then this will reduce the starting amount you receive under the new State Pension, as you will have paid lower rates of contributions during your qualifying years. If you’re unsure whether you were contracted out, you can ask your pension provider, or check your old payslips – if the National Insurance contributions line has the letter D or N next to it, then you were contracted out. If it is the letter A, then you were not contracted out.
You can also Check your State Pension to review any gaps in your record too. You can contact the National Insurance Contributions Office with any queries if there are missing years where there shouldn’t be, or write: PT Operations North East England, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AN, United Kingdom.
As mentioned, women in particular are at risk of being underpaid the State Pension. The DWP states it is currently focusing on correcting payments for women over 80, and widows. However, you may also be due a payment and an increase in your State Pension if you are a married or divorced woman. In particular, consider if you fall into any of the following scenarios:
You are a married woman who reached State Pension age before April 2016, with an entitlement that amounts to less than 60% of your husband’s basic state pension
(or £82.45 based on the current basic state pension at £137.60 a week).
Bear in mind that how long you can backdate claims will depend on whether your husband reached 65 before 17 March 2008. In this case, you can backdate 12 months. However, if he reached State Pension age after this date, when you should have automatically received an increase in the State Pension, you are able to make a claim for the full amount you should have received up to the date your husband retired.
You are a widow and you did not receive an increase in your pension when your husband died. You may be owed a payment from both before the death of your husband, and after, and going forwards, you may be entitled to a full basic state pension, alongside some of your late husband’s additional State Pension if this applies.
You are a woman who divorced post retirement and in receipt of a small pension. You may be entitled to more as a result of your ex-husband’s NICs record, but the uplift may not have been applied in some cases. This only applies, however, if you have not remarried or entered a new civil partnership. If you have married and divorced several times, your most recent ex-husband’s record is taken into account.
You are a woman aged over 80 and receive a basic pension of less than £82.45. You may be entitled to some more State Pension that isn’t based on your National Insurance record, known as a non-contributory State Pension. Recent figures from the DWP suggested that as many as 72,000 over-80s have been underpaid more than half a billion pounds, according to government figures, and will receive an average payment of more than £10,000 over the next five years.
However, you should not have received less than your State Pension entitlement if you fall into any of the following categories:
You’re a married woman whose husband has not yet reached State Pension age;You’re a single woman who’s never married;You’re a married woman but your husband was not entitled to a full basic State Pension.
Pensions consultant Lane Clark & Peacock has developed a useful calculator to help married women identify if they have been underpaid. You simply enter a few basic details, including you and your husband’s ages, and how much State Pension you currently each receive, and it will tell you if you are likely to be eligible for more.