State Pension

Understand what the state pension is and how it works

Most people in the UK are entitled to a State Pension when they retire. In this section, you’ll find resources that explain what the State Pension is, how it works and how much you can expect to receive when you stop working.

Frequently Asked Questions about State Pensions

How can I claim my State Pension?

Many people forget that you don’t get your State Pension automatically – you have to actively claim it. You’ll usually be sent a letter a couple of months before you reach State Pension age which will tell you what to do. If you haven’t received a letter for some reason, or if you have misplaced it, you can also claim your State Pension online or over the phone. And remember – you can still claim your pension (or choose to defer it), even if you want to continue working.

What if my State Pension is not enough?

If you claim the basic State Pension then you might be entitled to an Additional State Pension (also known as State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme or SERPS) on top of what you already receive. This is usually paid automatically with your basic State Pension if you qualify for it, unless you’ve previously chosen to contract out of it.

If you claim the new State Pension and are struggling to get by then you can check to see whether there are any government benefits you can claim. Government figures suggest that up to 1m households could be missing out on as much as £3,000 a year by failing to claim Pension Credit, often because they simply don’t know that they’re eligible. Read more in our article Pension Credit explained to see whether you can make a claim.

How much is the State Pension for a married couple?

There are no longer special State Pension rules for married couples, meaning that each partner will need to build up their own State Pension through their own qualifying years.

However, a spouse can build up Class 3 NI credits if they were out of work in order to care for children under 12 and registered for child benefit. These credits can build up qualifying years.

Will my State Pension be split after divorce?

If you receive the new State Pension then this is not automatically split in the event of divorce. However, if you claim Additional State Pension or any other kind of extra State Pension entitlement, you may agree (or be ordered by the court to share this).

You can read more in our article How are pensions shared in a divorce?

How much State Pension will I get if I have never worked?

State Pension is usually only paid to people who have worked for most of their life. This is because you need to have built up National Insurance credits in order to qualify, which are generally only available to those in employment.

However, you can still build up credits if you are a carer or are disabled yourself. If you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Child Benefit for a child under 12 then you can claim National Insurance Credits. If you have enough for at least 10 qualifying years, then you will be able to get some State Pension.

How many years of NI contributions do I need to receive the full State Pension?

You’ll usually need at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any of the new State Pension, and 35 qualifying years to get the full amount. You’ll get a proportion of the new State Pension if you have between 10 and 35 qualifying years.

Get a free Pension Health Check

If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Unbiased is offering Rest Less members a free pension review. It’s a chance to have a qualified independent financial advisor (IFA) take a look at your pension arrangements and give an unbiased assessment of your retirement savings.

The review is free and without obligation, but if the IFA feels you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll go over how that works and the charges involved.

Free pension check by VouchedFor

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