National Insurance and your State Pension statement
Your State Pension statement may be affected by National Insurance (NI) rules. Find out about rules for topping up your NI contributions, reduced rate NI and when you have to pay NI. If you need further help you can contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Paying National Insurance
Even if you already have enough qualifying years to get a full basic State Pension, you have to pay National Insurance until you reach your State Pension Age if you:
- work for an employer and your wages are above a certain level
- are self-employed and earn more than the Small Profits Threshold
Paying voluntary NI contributions
If you are paying voluntary NI contributions you may decide to stop paying them if you already have enough qualifying years to get a full basic State Pension.
You need 30 years of National Insurance contributions to get a full basic State Pension when you retire.
You can pay voluntary contributions to fill or avoid gaps in your National Insurance record if you don’t have 30 years of contributions.
You may have gaps because:
- you’re ill and not working and don’t get any benefits
- you’re unemployed and don’t get any benefits
- you live abroad and don’t have to pay National Insurance
- you’re self employed, making a profit under the Small Profits Threshold and don’t have to pay National Insurance
If you stop paying voluntary NI contributions, your widow, widower or surviving civil partner's bereavement benefits may be affected, if you die.
Reduced-rate National Insurance
In the past, married women (and some widows) could choose to either:
- pay reduced-rate NI contributions as an employee
- not pay Class 2 NI contributions when self-employed
Although this stopped in 1977, women who were already paying the reduced-rate NI could continue to do so.
Reduced–rate NI contributions do not count towards the State Pension. You can't normally get Home Responsibilities Protection for any period covered by reduced-rate NI contributions. Since April 2010 you may be able to get the credits for parents and carers that replaced Home Responsibilities Protection.
You will stop paying reduced–rate NI contributions if you:
- get divorced or your marriage is annulled (officially cancelled)
- stop being entitled to certain bereavement benefits
- ask to stop paying reduced–rate NI contributions
You will also stop paying reduced–rate NI contributions if, for two tax years in a row, you:
- did not earn enough to pay, or be treated as paying, NI contributions as an employee
- were not self-employed
If you need advice about reduced-rate NI contributions, contact HMRC.
Topping up your State Pension
If your statement shows that you may not receive a full basic State Pension, you may be able to top up your State Pension. You can do this by making voluntary NI contributions. This may be useful if you have missed paying NI contributions, for example because you weren't working, or were outside the UK. Details will be included in your statement if this applies to you.
There are time limits for paying voluntary NI contributions. You can usually fill gaps in the previous six tax years.
Rules for voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions
Since 6 April 2009, some people paid additional voluntary Class 3 NI contributions. These may be paid in addition to any you may pay for the previous six tax years. You may be able to do this for up to six years from 6 April 1975, if you:
- reach State Pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015
- already have 20 qualifying years (including years of Home Responsibilities Protection)
You cannot pay additional Class 3 NI contributions for any tax year if the whole year is covered by reduced-rate NI.
If you have any further questions about your NI contributions or credits, contact HMRC.