State pension: How can I get a state pension if I’ve never paid into one?

The new state pension was introduced on April 6, 2016, and created some big changes from the old system. The earliest you can claim your pension is the national pension age, which is currently 65, but will change to 66 in October 2020.

What if I’ve never paid into my state pension?

If you have never worked and do not have a reason for not working, such as being disabled or having a condition that means you can’t work, you do not get any state pension.

The full new state pension is £175.20 per week – but you don’t automatically get this amount.

What you will receive is based on your National Insurance history, and how many qualifying years you have on your record.


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Any man born after April 6, 1951 and any woman born after April 6, 1953 is automatically eligible for the new state pension if they have accrued at least ten ‘qualifying years’ of national insurance contributions.

The exception to this rule is if you are married or in a civil partnership, in which you can qualify for state pension based on your partner’s national insurance record.

Saving into a workplace pension or another type of private pension does not affect how much State Pension most people receive from the Government.

The Department of Work and Pensions only takes into account your NI contributions and does not make an assessment of how much you need from other income sources unless you have low income.

You can get a pension forecast from the Government which will tell you, based on your current record, how much you are set to receive once you reach state pension age.

What are qualifying years?

Qualifying years are years you have spent paying National Insurance as part of your salary in work or receiving National Insurance credits.

You need 35 full qualifying years to get the full state pension.

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They do not need to be consecutive, and National Insurance credits also count towards your qualifying years.

National Insurance credits are given when you take time off work due to something like caring for a child or having a long term illness, or if you are in receipt of certain benefits.

Each qualifying year you add to your national insurance record works out at an extra £4.70 a week once you are able to claim.

If you have gaps in your NIC history and are not in receipt of the full state pension, you can usually pay voluntary Class 3 contributions for the past six years.

Prior to the new state pension, the old state pension was made up of two parts – the basic state pension and the additional state pension.

The new state pension combines those into a single amount, which is higher than the basic state pension.

The full level of the new state pension is £175.20 in 2020/21, although you could get more or less than this.

You won’t get any less than what you would have received under the old system.

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