Can I boost my state pension?

The amount of state pension you receive depends on your record of National Insurance Contributions.  For those who reached pension age after 5th April 2016, the full flat rate pension is currently £185.15.  However, for various reasons some people may be heading for less than this amount, and, in some cases, they may be able to boost their pension by paying voluntary NI contributions. 

This website is designed to provide useful factual information for anyone thinking about boosting their state pension in this way.

A few things to note before we start:

  • This website is designed to give you useful information but is not providing financial advice. You must decide for yourself whether topping up your state pension is right for you, and we accept no liability for any decisions you take.
  • To use this site we will ask you to gather some information about your own National Insurance record from the gov.uk website. This is because it is your own individual record which will determine if you can boost your state pension – the answer may be different for each individual.
  • This website is for people who come under the ‘new’ state pension system, which came into effect on 6th April 2016. This means it is relevant only to men born on or after 6th April 1951 and women born on or after 6th April 1953.
  • Before paying voluntary NICs you should always check with the Government whether or not this will boost your pension.
  • None of the personal data that you enter on this LCP site is stored by us, and we will not ask for your name, address or NI number. We will however collect aggregate statistics about the number of people using the site and the different information pages which they use.

Whether or not you can boost your state pension depends on your National Insurance record to date.  To use our website you will need first to gather some information about your personal NI record and state pension forecast.  You can do this by visiting Check your State Pension forecast - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The information you will need to use our site is:

  • any figure shown on your forecast for the *weekly* state pension you can expect (you can ignore figures for monthly or annual equivalent); in some cases there will be more than one weekly figure quoted – for example, a pension figure accrued to date, a pension figure if you work to retirement and/or a pension figure if you pay top-ups. We will need all of these figures.
  • a list of the years from 2006/07 onwards shown as ‘not full’ on your National Insurance record; note that the most recent year (2021/22) may not have been loaded yet on your NI account;

To check if you might be able to boost your state pension, you can answer a few simple questions below

Please note that you are providing your data on an anonymous basis; LCP does not store any of the personal data you input. You should always seek independent financial or legal advice before making any financial or investment decisions. LCP does not provide any warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured on this page.

FAQs

  • Can I boost my pension even if I am over pension age?

Yes. As long as the deadline has not passed for paying NICs for a particular year, you can still pay voluntary NICs and this will boost your state pension.

  • Can I pay more than one year of voluntary contributions?

Yes. As long as you have checked that each extra year will convert into an increase in your state pension, there is nothing to stop you buying back more than one missing year if you can afford to do so.

  • Will an extra year always add the same amount to my pension?

No. Because of the complexities in the way the new state pension is calculated, an extra year of NI may have a different impact depending on your individual circumstances, especially if you are looking at years before 2016/17. However, for most people, each extra year of contributions from 2016/17 onwards will add about £275 per year to your pension. The main exception to this would be if an extra year would take you above the maximum flat rate amount, in which case your state pension will be capped at the flat rate figure.

  • How long do I have to pay?

For years from 2006/07 to 2015/16 inclusive, the deadline for payment is 5th April 2023. For later years you must pay within six years of the end of the tax year in question.

  • How much does it cost?

In 2022/23, the rate of Class 2 NICs is £3.15 per week, and the Class 3 rate is £15.85 per week. In certain circumstances you may be able to pay at the rate for 2021/22 or 2020/21 – see: Voluntary National Insurance: Rates - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If you have already made some contributions for a past year (or have some credits for that year) but are short of the amount needed for a full year, you only have to pay the difference required to top it up to a full year.

  • I have over 35 years of contributions but my forecast is below the full flat rate – why?

If you were a member of a ‘contracted out’ pension arrangement, a deduction will have been made from your state pension forecast to reflect years when you paid a lower (contracted out) rate of NICs.

  • If my NI record shows an incomplete year and a price to fill it, do I have to do so?

No. Just because your record shows that you have a gap, you are under no obligation to fill it. In addition, even if you do fill it, DWP are not guaranteeing that this will improve your state pension.  You should always check with the Future Pension Centre before making any payments.

  • If I think my NI record is incorrect, what can I do?

You can call the National Insurance helpline – contact details are at: National Insurance: general enquiries - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

  • What does it mean if my NI record says “we are still checking” for a particular year?

It is likely that the year in question has not yet been included in your state pension projection. You should contact the National Insurance helpline (National Insurance: general enquiries - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) to resolve this issue before paying any voluntary contributions.

  • My state pension forecast has a ‘COPE’ figure – will this be deducted from my pension?

You can ignore the COPE figure. It has already been used in working out your state pension, so you do not need to do any further calculations. It is simply designed to explain that you have at some point been a member of a ‘contracted out’ pension arrangement.

  • When is the best time to pay voluntary NICs?

In principle you have up to six years to pay voluntary NICs to fill a gap year, so there may be a case for waiting (though gaps from 2006/07 to 2015/16 inclusive have to be filled by the end of the current financial year). However, you should be aware that the price of voluntary NICs could change in the meantime and the rules around voluntary NICs could also change.

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.