How to top up your state pension

To get the full state pension, you will need to have made national insurance contributions for at least 35 years, But if don't qualify, you may be able to do something about it.

Fewer than half of those who have retired since state-pension reforms were introduced in 2016 have qualified for the full pension introduced at the time, government data suggests. While more than one million people have begun claiming their pension over the past five years, fewer than 500,000 are receiving the maximum amount possible, which is £179.60 a week in the current year. 

That largely reflects the way the state pension now works. While it is significantly more generous – this year’s weekly pension for those who retired before 2016 is £137.60 a week – it is also harder to qualify for. 

To get the full amount, you will need to have made national insurance contributions for at least 35 years, up from 30 years under the previous system, when around two-thirds of people qualified for the maximum benefit.

The good news is that if you are off target to qualify for the maximum state pension, you may be able to do something about it. Your first step is to check your current national insurance record, via the government’s online state-pension tool. If it shows you’re likely to come up short, consider making voluntary national insurance contributions; you can usually pay these for the past six years.

At the current rate, a whole year of extra national insurance contributions will cost you around £880. At this year’s benefit rates, one year’s extra contributions would buy you around £267 of extra annual income, so you would be in the black after four years of receiving your pension.

Recommended

When will interest rates go up?
UK Economy

When will interest rates go up?

New interest rates will be announced this month – we look at whether they will go up and what the impact will be.
5 Dec 2022
Heated airer vs tumble dryer – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Heated airer vs tumble dryer – which is cheaper?

What is the most cost effective way to dry your clothes – a heated airer or a tumble dryer? We compare the costs.
5 Dec 2022
Best savings accounts – December 2022
Savings

Best savings accounts – December 2022

Interest rates on cash savings are making a comeback. We look at the best savings accounts on the market now
5 Dec 2022
Scottish Mortgage managers reassure investors about its recent poor performance
Investment trusts

Scottish Mortgage managers reassure investors about its recent poor performance

After a spectacular couple of decades, the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has fallen by 40% this year. As its managers address shareholder concern…
5 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Radiator vs electric heater – which is cheaper?

We compare the costs, pros and cons of radiators and electric heaters and see which one will help keep your energy bill as low as possible.
28 Nov 2022
State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments
State pensions

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments

LCP launches Mothers Missing Millions campaign amid DWP state pension errors.
3 Dec 2022