Caring and your pension
If you cannot work or do not earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions because you are caring for someone, you may still be credited with National Insurance contributions. If you are a pensioner, you may be able to get Pension Credit.
The State Pension is made up of two parts: a flat-rate basic pension and an earnings-related additional pension, also called the State Second Pension.
Your entitlement to State Pension is based on the number of 'qualifying years' - which are tax years - in which you have paid, are treated as having paid, or are credited with National Insurance contributions.
A person who has 30 qualifying years will be entitled to a full basic State Pension. Just one qualifying year, achieved through paid or credited National Insurance contributions, will entitle you to the basic State Pension worth 1/30th of the full basic State Pension.
Additional State Pension
If you do not earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions or you are self-employed, you can still build up an entitlement to additional State Pension, also called State Second Pension, if:
- you qualified for Home Responsibilities Protection before April 2010
- you are entitled to Carer's Credit
- you are a foster carer
- you are entitled to Carer's Allowance, even if you do not receive it because you get another benefit at the same or a higher rate
- you get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12
- Understanding the additional State Pension (money, tax and benefits section)
From 6 April 1978 to 5 April 2010, Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) could protect your right to State Pension if you were caring for someone and did not have enough National Insurance contributions or credits in a particular year.
Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) has been replaced for people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010.
From 6 April 2010, carers will be able to build up qualifying years through new weekly credits for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension.
You can get Carer’s Credit if you look after one or more people, for a total of 20 hours or more a week, who get:
- Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or the highest rate, or
- Attendance Allowance at any rate, or
- Constant Attendance Allowance at any rate
If the person or people you care for are not in receipt of any of the qualifying benefits listed above, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit if they have been certified by an appropriate health or social care professional as requiring the hours of care being provided each week.
You will already be getting Carer’s Credits if you:
- get Carer’s Allowance, or
- get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12
In these cases you do not need to fill in an application form as the credits will be awarded automatically.
If you are a foster carer, you will need to apply to HM Revenue and Customs to get the new credits.
- Carer's Credit (money, tax and benefits section)
- Home Responsibilities Protection (money, tax and benefits section)
Carer's Allowance and National Insurance contributions
For each week you receive Carer's Allowance you will normally get a National Insurance (NI) contribution credited to your NI record, unless you are a woman who has chosen to pay reduced rate NI contributions.
You will also normally be credited with an NI contribution for any week you are entitled to Carer's Allowance, but it is not paid because you are also getting Widow's Benefit or Bereavement Benefits at the same or a higher weekly rate.
Pension Credit is an entitlement for people who have reached the qualifying age and are living in Norhern Ireland. It could top up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. If you are aged 65 or over and have saved towards your retirement you could receive extra money on top of this.
You may also get extra money if you or your partner - if you have one - care for someone, are severely disabled or have housing costs, like a mortgage for example.
The age from which you can get Pension Credit (the qualifying age) is gradually increasing from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020. To find out the age when you can apply for Pension Credit, you can use the State Pension age calculator.
- Understanding Pension Credit (money, tax and benefits section)
- State Pension age calculator - Directgov website