Your State Pension
Last updated on 6 April 2016
The new State Pension was introduced on 6 April 2016 and applies to anyone who reaches their State Pension age on or after than date. If you reached your State Pension age before this, then the old State Pension will apply to you.
You build up entitlement to a State Pension by paying National Insurance contributions while you are working. In some situations you are credited as if you had paid contributions - for example, if you are caring for young children or a person with a disability, or you are off work because of illness or unemployment.
Each year for which you have enough National Insurance contributions or credits counts as a 'qualifying year' for the State Pension.
UK State Pension age
The earliest you can claim your State Pension is from State Pension age. Currently this is 65 for men. For women, it is rising between April 2010 and November 2018 from 60 to 65. It will increase to 66 for both men and women by October 2020 and to 67 by March 2028.
After that, State Pension age will be reviewed every five years and linked to changes in how long the population as a whole is living.
New State Pension from 2016
If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you get a new flat-rate pension instead of the old basic and additional pensions.
The full new State Pension is £155.65 a week. To qualify for any of this you need a minimum of 10 years' worth of National Insurance contributions (NICs) or credits. To get the full amount you need 35 full years of NICs or credits.
For people who have built up NICs or credits before 6 April 2016, these will count towards your new State Pension. These provide you with a 'starting amount' and any future contributions or credits you make are added to this.
Be aware that if you 'contracted out' of the Additional State Pension for any period in the past, this will be deducted from your starting amount.
To find out more about how the new State Pension is calculated visit the government website Gov.uk.
The old system
For people who reached their State Pension age before 6 April 2016, (even if they've deferred taking their State Pension) the old State Pension system applies. There are two main parts to this: a basic pension which nearly everyone gets; and an additional pension that you may have built up if you were an employee or couldn't work because of caring responsibilities or disability.
If you have at least 30 qualifying years, this entitles you to the full basic State Pension which is £119.30 a week in 2016-17. If you have fewer than 30 years, you get less.
The additional State Pension (called the State Second Pension and previously the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme, SERPS) is not a fixed amount. The amount you may get is based on your past earnings that you paid NICs on. So the more you earned the higher this is likely to be. In theory you could get up to an extra £160 or so a week from the additional State Pension but most people who qualify for this get much less.
If you contracted out of the additional State Pension (so instead of paying into this you contributed to a private pension from a company scheme or personal pension) you will have paid lower NICs and this will affect how much additional State Pension you get.
How much State Pension will you get?
You can apply for a statement of how much State Pension you have built up so far. You can apply online, by phone (call 0345 3000 168) or by post. For details, visit the Gov.uk website.
Ways to increase your State Pension
If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and want to increase your State Pension you have until 5 April 2017 to do this under the State Pension top-up scheme. This scheme lets you buy up to £25 a week of additional State Pension.
If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 you may be able to make up any gaps in your NICs record by paying voluntary Class 3 contributions.
You can also increase your State Pension if you do not start it straight away when you have reached State Pension age. This is called deferring your State Pension.