The State Pension

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The state pension is a vital source of income for millions of retired people across Britain. However, the system can be complex and it’s important that you know how it works.

What are the basic rules?

To receive the basic state pension you must have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions. You can claim the basic state pension if you are a man born before 6 April 1951 or a woman born before 6 April 1953. If you were born later, you’ll need to claim the new state pension instead.

You’ll usually need at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record to receive any state pension, but they do not have to be 10 consecutive years to qualify.

This means for 10 years at least one or more of the following must apply to you: you were working and paid National Insurance contributions; you were receiving National Insurance credits for example if you were unemployed, ill or a parent or carer; or, you were paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.

You might also qualify if you have paid married women’s or widow’s reduced rate contributions.

Once you reach the state pension age you do not need to stop working but you’ll no longer have to pay National Insurance.

How much is the full basic state pension worth?

Currently in the 2021/22 tax year the full basic state pension is £137.60 per week.

You may be able to increase your basic state pension through your spouse or registered civil partner or inherit some of your spouse or registered civil partner’s state pension when they die.

If you are married or in a registered civil partnership, you might be able to receive up to £82.45 per week if either you’re not receiving a basic state pension or you’re not receiving the full amount (£82.45 per week).

What is the new state pension?

The new state pension replaces the old system of basic state pension and second state pension. You’ll be able to claim the new state pension if you are a man born on or after 6 April 1951 or a woman born on or after 6 April 1953.

The earliest you can start receiving the new state pension is when you reach the state pension age. If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, you will receive the state pension under the old rules instead.

The full new state pension in the 2021/22 tax year is £179.60 per week. The actual amount you receive will depend on your National Insurance record. The only reasons the amount can be higher are if you have over a certain amount of additional state pension or you defer by delaying taking your state pension.

Can I receive both the basic state and new state pension?

People who reached the state pension age on 6 April 2016 can receive both their accrued basic and second pension entitlements under the old rules as well as their new state pension entitlement under the new system.