Deadline to plug National Insurance gaps and maximise your state pension entitlement extended

The deadline to make voluntary National Insurance (NI) contributions has been extended from 5 April to 31 July 2023.

On 6 April 2016 a new state pension system was brought in. The amount of state pension and other benefits you get depends on how many qualifying years of NI contributions you have. Most people need 35 qualifying years to get the full state pension which is set at £203.85 from April 2023, up 10.1% from £185.15 in 2022.

How many qualifying years you need is based on your age and NI record. Some people may need more than 35 years. If you do not have enough qualifying years, individuals currently have the option to fill gaps in their record. You would usually only be able to go back six years but for a limited time this transitional period means you can go back much further and fill gaps from 6 April 2006 to date. The deadline for doing so has been extended to 31 July 2023.

The first step for clients is to check their NI record and see how many qualifying years they currently have. This can be done online via your personal tax account with HMRC. You will need to set up a government gateway if you don’t already have one.

There is also a useful State pension forecast tool. This will help you find out how much state pension you could get, when you can get it and how to increase your entitlement.

If you find you have any gaps in your NI record, you should consider any years you should have received a National Insurance credit. For example if you were receiving benefits such as statutory sick pay, on maternity leave or receiving Child Benefit and caring for a child under 12. You should automatically get credits for these years or can apply to have the missing years added to your NI record.

Most people will pay voluntary class 3 NI contributions to top up their NI record. The current rate is £15.85 per week or £824.20 a year. Extra NI years can result in a considerable amount of extra state pension depending on how long you live. One year is currently worth an extra £275 per year in state pension and the initial outlay is repaid within three years.

It is up to you if you want to make up any shortfall. Filling in NI gaps will not be right for everyone. Each individuals scenario is different and careful consideration should be given to your circumstances. Please contact us if you have any questions or have found you do not have enough qualifying years and would like help topping your NI record.

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