How to Build Your State Pension Entitlement Using the National Insurance Website
אתר ביטוח לאומי is paid by employees and employers on earnings, and by self-employed people on certain business profits. These contributions are credited to an individual’s NI record and can be used to qualify for certain benefits including a State Pension.
The National Insurance system uses a computerised recording system called NIRS/2. It replaced an older system that did not allow direct access to individual account details.
Information about National Insurance
National Insurance (NI) is a form of social security in the United Kingdom paid by employees and employers to help build entitlement to benefits, including the State Pension. It also helps to pay for sickness and unemployment benefits, maternity and paternity payments, and some child benefit.
If you are working in the UK, you will pay NICs through payroll deductions. You can check your NI record on the government website by signing in to your personal tax account using your Government Gateway user ID and password. You can also use this service to check your Income Tax records and make repayments to HMRC.
A National Insurance number is a unique identifier for every person in the United Kingdom who pays NI contributions. It is made up of two prefix letters, six digits and one suffix letter. Your NI number is unique to you and never changes. It is important to keep your NI number safe as it is used for several different purposes by HM Revenue and Customs, and you may need it in order to prove who you are if you apply for certain benefits or loans.
People are liable for NI contributions depending on their age and earnings. Employees and directors of limited companies pay NICs through the PAYE system, and self-employed people pay Class 2 NICs at a flat weekly rate and Class 4 NICs based on their profits. Some people may have gaps in their NI record, for example because they are unemployed or taking time out of work to care for someone or to study. You can make voluntary contributions to fill gaps in your NI record, and details are available on the government website.
How to get a State Pension
The amount of State Pension you get depends on how many qualifying years you have. These are years when you’ve paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions. This includes contributions from paid work, but also from benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. You can use the State Pension calculator to help you work out how much you might be entitled to.
The maximum State Pension is £140 a week, or £6,590 a year. You’ll need at least 10 years of qualifying contributions to get this. However, you don’t have to have 10 qualifying years in a row. If you’ve been paying widow’s or married women’s reduced rate contributions, you may qualify for a higher State Pension.
If you contracted out of the Additional State Pension, your forecast will include a figure called the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent (COPE). This is an estimate of what your additional State Pension would have been had you not contracted out.
If you’ve worked in several EU countries, each country will calculate what part of your State Pension they should pay. Each will do this using a method called aggregation. The pension authority in the country you live in now or used to work in will gather together all the records of your NI payments from other EU countries. They’ll then compare the theoretical amounts you would have received had you paid into their scheme for your whole career, with the pro-rata State Pension you receive, and pay the highest amount.
Making voluntary contributions to make up for gaps in your record
If you have gaps in your National Insurance (NIC) record and are worried about whether this will impact your State Pension entitlement, you may be able to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions to make up for these. This can be a good option for people who didn’t build up enough qualifying years due to illness, caring responsibilities or time spent living abroad.
However, it’s important to note that paying voluntary NIC top-ups isn’t a guarantee that you will receive more State Pension in retirement. This is because the amount you receive from your State Pension depends on how many qualifying years you have.
It’s also worth noting that if you were ‘contracted out’ of the additional State Pension in the past, paying to fill gaps in your record may not be worth it as you won’t gain any extra income as a result. As a result, it’s essential to check your State Pension forecast before making any decisions about paying for additional NICs.
The information on this page is based on our understanding of the rules as at June 2023. It should not be taken as financial advice. If you are in doubt about any of the information provided, please contact us. Links to external websites are for information only and we cannot accept responsibility or liability for the content of any such sites.
Contacting the National Insurance Contributions Office
If you have a question about your National Insurance record you can contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via the telephone or online. Calls cost up to 12p a minute from landlines but may be free of charge if you have included calls in your mobile tariff. You can also view information relating to your National Insurance record and state pension entitlement through your Personal Tax Account.
Employees pay Class 1 NICs through PAYE which are deducted from their earnings on a weekly or monthly basis. These are then reported to HMRC on a Full Payment Submission each payroll run. Company directors who are employed by their own limited companies are liable for paying Class 2 NICs on their annual income above the primary threshold. They can choose to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions as well, which will help to bridge gaps in their NI record. Gaps may be caused by years spent in low-wage employment, working abroad or being self-employed with small profits.
If you think that you have paid NI contributions in the past that don’t appear on your record you can ask the NI Contributions Office to look into this for you. This can be done by calling the dedicated helpline or by writing to HMRC in the UK – remember to keep a copy of your letter – as you might need it later if you need to challenge their decision.