The government has extended the deadline for taxpayers to buy extra years for their National Insurance records by nearly two years to April 2025.
The deadline was previously extended to 31 July this year, but delays in processing applications have meant that many people were likely to miss this deadline.
Making sure you have 35 years of contributions in your National Insurance record ensures that you receive as much of the New State Pension as possible when you retire. Alice Haine, personal finance expert at Bestinvest, said; “The Government’s decision to extend the deadline for taxpayers looking to plug National Insurance shortfalls by almost two years is no surprise when you consider the long delays in the system. One taxpayer reported checking the status of their application to make up a shortfall to be told the system was still processing requests from August 2022.
“The good news is that Britons with gaps in their National Insurance record no longer need to panic about running out of time to make up a gap and receive the full pension income they are entitled to. Buying back missed years is a great way to bolster retirement income with this window of opportunity to backdate contributions all the way to 2006, something not to be ignored.”
Boosting National Insurance Contributions: how it works
As part of the transition to the New State Pension system, taxpayers can make ‘voluntary class 3 NI contributions’ to fill up any gaps in their National Insurance record between April 2006 and 2016. It costs £824.20 for a full year (£15.85 per week).
If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years when you retire, you will receive a lower rate of the State Pension – missing just one qualifying year will cost you around £275 a year from your State Pension. So, by buying your missing years at the current rates, you should hopefully have recouped the money spent on buying an extra year within four years of retirement. Read more in our article Is it worth paying to top up your State Pension?
Victoria Atkins, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We recognise how important State Pensions are for retired individuals, which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their National Insurance record to help bolster their entitlement.”
Bear in mind that although buying extra years to plug any gaps in your NI record can potentially increase your State Pension by thousands of pounds over your lifetime, it’s not always the right thing to do. Whether it’s worthwhile will also depend on factors out of your control such as how long you live beyond State Pension age. For example, if you were ‘contracted out’ of the additional State Pension before 2016, paying to fill gaps in your NI record may not be worthwhile, as you may not receive any more State Pension as a result.
Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter said: “The extended deadline will particularly impact those aged between 45 and 70 with gaps in their NI records and these individuals should take action to check whether they can maximise their retirement benefits if they can afford to.
“Consider someone with ten missing years in their NI record. They could pay around £8,000 to close these gaps and potentially boost their state pension income by £55,000 over a typical 20-year retirement. This represents an excellent investment for those who are eligible and can afford it. However, it’s important to check whether making these contributions will be advantageous first.”
HMRC is urging those who may have missing years in their record to check their records to avoid losing out on their State Pension entitlement. You can check your National Insurance record at GOV.uk or via the HMRC app.
Helen Morrissey, Head of Retirement Analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “This further deadline extension to April 2025 means people can take the time to think about what’s best for them. Buying voluntary National Insurance credits is a great way of boosting your state pension, but it is vital that you check before handing over money as you may be able to plug some of these gaps in another way – by backdating a benefits claim for instance.
“If you have been contracted out at any point you also may not benefit from making voluntary contributions so you need to check. This extra time means people can make sure they are making the right decision for their circumstances and give more people the opportunity to make a real difference to how much state pension they get.”
Where to go for more help
You can use the government’s Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175 to find out if you’re likely to benefit from paying voluntary contributions, and how to do this if you want to go ahead. Both can help with information about your NI record, tell you how much it’ll cost you to top up incomplete years, and whether doing so is worthwhile to increase your State Pension.
Lane Clark & Peacock also has an online tool to help people work out whether it’s worthwhile paying voluntary contributions to boost their State Pension.
If you’re not sure whether you’re saving enough into pensions to supplement your State Pension in retirement, you might want to speak to an independent financial advisor who can recommend the best course of action based on your personal circumstances. You can find a local financial advisor on VouchedFor* or Unbiased*, or for more information, check out our guides on How to find the right financial advisor for you or How to get advice on your pension.
If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Aviva is offering Rest Less members a free initial consultation with an expert to chat about your financial situation and goals. There’s no obligation, but if they feel you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll go over how that works and the charges involved.