Since 1978/79, the state pension system has included a measure of protection for the National Insurance records of people who were not paying NI Contributions because of family responsibilities.
However, there have in the past been concerns that some people – mostly mothers – were not getting this protection because of problems getting data from the Child Benefit computer onto the National Insurance computer. In response, DWP ran a correction exercise over a decade ago which identified around 36,000 parents who had wrongly missed out, and it paid over £85m in state pension arrears, as well as increasing weekly state pensions for those affected by an average of £10 per week.
Now DWP in its most recent annual report (see p71) has admitted that it now thinks more people may be missing out.
The purpose of this website is to give you a three step guide to see if this applies to you and, if so, how you can get it put right.
The steps are:
- Check if you are entitled
- If so, check if that entitlement is showing on your National Insurance record
- If it is missing, fill in the relevant form to get this fixed and your pension increased
1. Check if you are entitled
To help you work out if you are entitled to protection for your National Insurance record because of time at home with children, we start by explaining how the system worked. There have been two different systems – ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’ for periods from 1978/79 to 2009/10, and “NI Credits” from 2010/11 onwards.
1978/79 to 2009/10 – Home Responsibilities Protection
From 1978/79 to 2009/10, protection for parents was provided by a system known as ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’ (HRP). To qualify for a year of HRP from 1978/79 onwards you had to be:
- Receiving Child Benefit (with the payment in your name not that of a spouse or partner); AND
- Have a child under the age of 16 for the whole financial year (meaning that the year in which the child turned 16 did not count); AND
- Not be paying (or eligible to pay) the reduced ‘married woman’s stamp’;
If you can say yes to all of these questions for any year from 1978/79 to 2009/10, you should qualify for HRP for that year.
For those who reached state pension age before 6th April 2010, each year of HRP (up to a maximum of 20) meant one less year of actual contributions was needed for a full pension.
For example, consider a woman with 15 years of actual contributions (from paid work and paying NI) and 9 years of HRP. Until 2010, women needed 39 years of contributions to qualify for a full pension. Without HRP, this woman would have 15/39 of a full pension or a contribution record of 38.4%. With HRP, her target for a full pension is reduced by 9 years from 39 years to 30 years. This means her 15 years of actual contributions generate a contribution record of 50% - 15/30. This would give her a much bigger pension.
2010/11 onwards – National Insurance credits
In April 2010, a change was made to the way in which time at home with children counted towards your state pension. Instead of reducing the target number of years for a full pension, each year at home with children would now simply count in full towards your state pension, just as if you had been in paid work. (Years of HRP from before 2010 were converted into full National Insurance credits for those who had not yet reached pension age).
Two other changes were made in 2010:
- Credits for time at home with children would now only be available for children under 12;
- The number of years for a full state pension was reduced from 44 for a man or 39 for a woman to 30; this was increased to 35 years in 2016;
Apart from these changes, the same basic rules applied for NI credits from 2010/11 as for HRP before that date:
- You must be getting Child Benefit in your name AND
- The child must be under the age of 12 for the whole year AND
- You must not be paying (or eligible to pay) the reduced ‘married woman’s stamp’
If you can say yes to all of these questions then you should be entitled to NI credits for the year in question.
2. Have I missed out?
The simplest way to check if you are receiving HRP / NI credits is to look at your NI record.
You can do this either on the ‘check state pension’ website or via the HMRC National Insurance record website. You can also ring the National Insurance Contribution helpline.
- For those who reached pension age after 5th April 2010, any year of HRP/credits should be showing as a complete year on your NI record. If not, this needs to be investigated. Remember that HRP was only introduced with effect from 1978/79 onwards and does not apply if you were paying (or eligible to pay) the reduced ‘married woman’s stamp’ for that year.
- For those who reached pension age on or before 5th April 2010, HRP was recorded in a different way and you need to phone the NI helpline to check if there is HRP on your record and, if so, for which years.
3. How can I fix the problem?
In principle, you could simply wait for DWP and HMRC to conduct their review of the issue, which they say will not be complete until ‘Autumn 2022 at the earliest’. But even when they have completed their review it might take years for them to fix the problem at their end.
The good news is that if HRP / NI credits are missing from your record then you do not need to wait.
To claim missing HRP/credits you can fill in a simple form (CF411 for HRP up to 2010, CF411a for NI Credits thereafter) with details of your child or children, and HMRC should update your NI record if you are entitled. DWP will then be notified (if you are over pension age) and your state pension should be reassessed with any backpayments covered.
If you would like to let us know how you get on, you are welcome to message LCP partner Steve Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We have also posted the answers to some ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ below.
Frequently asked questions
What if Child Benefit was in my spouse or partner’s name?
In some cases, HRP may be missing from your NI record because the Child Benefit was in your partner’s name. If so, and if they don’t need the HRP themselves (perhaps because they were working and paying NI) then you may be able to get the HRP transferred to you, provided that you reached pension age after 5th April 2008. The rules are explained in this guidance note.
Do I get HRP if I was in work?
HRP was designed to help protect the National Insurance record of people who were not in paid work because of family responsibilities. If you were actually working all year and paying full rate NI contributions you don’t need HRP for that year because the year in question is already a qualifying year. If you were working and paying the married woman’s reduced stamp, unfortunately you are disqualified from HRP for that year.
What if I have more than one child?
If you have more than one child you can get HRP as long as at least one of your children satisfies the rules. For example, post 2010/11 you need to have a child under 12, but it does not matter if you also have other children who are over this age.
What if I haven’t claimed Child Benefit because of high income?
You can only benefit from NI credits (post 2010) if you either claim Child Benefit and receive the benefit, or simply claim the credits (and turn down the benefit). You cannot benefit from credits if you make no claim at all. If you claim the credits now, the maximum backdating will usually be three months.
Information on this webpage does not constitute financial advice or other professional advice, nor a recommendation of a particular course of action.
Lane Clark and Peacock LLP, its officers or employees do not accept any responsibility or liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused by action taken (or a decision not to take action) as a result of information provided by this.