Do I have to pay to fill in the gaps in my state pension record?

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What should I do about gaps in my state pension record that the official website says it is still “checking”? Steve Webb responds










I have been on the government portal site for a few years now, to check my state pension.

I have a few years that say “you haven’t paid enough national insurance this year, we are checking if this year will be eligible”, but that message never changes. Why? And will they check?

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Retirement planning: what to do if there are gaps in your state pension record

Steve Webb replies: As you have discovered, when you go to the gov.uk website to check your state pension, you receive a year by year account of your national insurance record.

I encourage anyone of working age to do this, as it’s much easier to spot mistakes while you still have pay stubs and other recent documents than leaving them until you retire.

Most years, you’ll probably see the year in question described as a “full year.”

This means that you have paid (or been credited) enough National Insurance contributions for that year to count as a ‘qualifying year’ for your state pension.

Where a year is currently marked as “not complete”, there are certain situations where this may change in the future.

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister about your retirement savings in the box below

If the year in question is very recent (e.g. 2020/21), they may simply not have loaded the most recent National Insurance information yet.

For example, if you check your records at the start of a new fiscal year in April or May, it is not uncommon for the previous year to be temporarily marked as “not complete.”

But if you check again later in the year, you’ll find that has changed.

A second reason why a recent year might not show up concerns the self-employed.

Self-employed National Insurance contributions are in many cases now collected through the tax return process rather than by paying a weekly ‘stamp’ as was the case in the past.

Because tax returns are filed well after the end of the relevant year, it may take some time for self-employed NI contributions to show up.

However, for anything older than that, I’d be surprised if a year marked as “not complete” suddenly turns into a full year with no action on your part.

An older year can be changed from an “incomplete” year to a qualifying year for your state pension in two main ways, but both require action on your part.

One would be if a National Insurance credit is claimed for the year in question, although a few years after the event.

For example, grandparents and other family carers who look after a child so that the child’s mother or father can return to work may qualify for a National Insurance credit.

For those who have been carers for a long time, these claims can be backdated to when the scheme was first introduced ten years ago.

A successful backdated application for this credit could cause a number of older years to change from “not complete” to “complete”.

Another way to turn old years into qualifying years would be to pay voluntary NI dues for the year in question.

For the self-employed, these may be paid at class 2 rates and for others they may be paid at class 3 rates, but both are government subsidized and are generally a relatively cost-effective means of employment. increase your pension if you would not. otherwise get a full state pension.

There are, however, deadlines for paying these contributions (in most cases six years) so I encourage you not to delay if you miss the contributions you need to maximize your state pension.

There are, however, deadlines for the payment of these contributions, so I encourage you not to delay if you miss the contributions you need to maximize your state pension.

Why do some supplements NOT improve the state pension?

A revamp in April 2016 replaced the old two-tier system with a flat-rate state pension, which is now worth £179.60 a week if you qualify for the full amount, written It’s money.

As a result, some people have already maxed out all possible benefits from the old base-rate state pension, now worth £137.60 a week, and will only find it worth filling in the gaps. or buy supplements for years after the change.

However, this depends on your personal National Insurance record, whether you were withdrawn from the second state pension at any time and other individual factors. Learn more here.

But you also need to make sure that any contributions you make actually increase your pension. In particular, contributions from years prior to 2016/17 may not increase your pension, depending on the details of your contribution record. See the box to the right.

I’d like to point out that there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a small number of gaps in your NI record (assuming you’ve paid whatever NI was legally owed on your earnings or self-employment at the era).

Ignoring the effects of ‘contracting out’, it is possible to get a maximum flat-rate pension (currently £179.60 a week) based on just 35 years of full contributions over a working life of around 50 years.

If your forecast already shows this amount “in the bank”, there is nothing to be gained by filling in the historical gaps in your NI record on a voluntary basis.

Just because you haven’t “paid enough” NI in the year in question to make it a qualifying year for your state pension doesn’t mean you need to do anything about it now .

Ask Steve Webb a question about retirement

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony’s uncle.

He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you’re still saving, quitting work, or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department for Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner in actuary and consultancy firm Lane Clark & ​​Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at [email protected]

Steve will do his best to respond to your message in an upcoming column, but he won’t be able to respond to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will remain confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that offers free pension assistance to the public. He can be found here and his number is 0800 011 3797.

SteveWe get a lot of questions about state pension forecasts and about COPE – contracted pension equivalent. If you write to Steve on this subject, he answers a typical question from a reader here. It includes links to several of Steve’s previous columns on state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.

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