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Changes to State Pensions for parents and carers

Parents are eligible for National Insurance credits towards their State Pension. You may be eligible for National Insurance credits if you care for a child under the age of 12 or you're a registered foster carer.

Credits for parents

You may become entitled to a State Pension by paying National Insurance contributions. Many parents do not pay National Insurance contributions, for example when they are not working, or when their earnings are low.

A system of National Insurance credits is now in place to help parents become entitled to both basic and additional State Pension. You may be eligible for a National Insurance credit in a given week if one of the following applies:

  • you get Child Benefit for a child or children under the age of 12
  • you are an approved foster carer

You're still entitled to these National Insurance credits if you're a married woman and pay the reduced-rate of National Insurance contributions. You're entitled to these National Insurance credits as long as you meet the qualifying conditions. The National Insurance credits are also worthwhile if you're self-employed or you have low earnings because they mean you may become entitled to additional State Pension.

You can join together National Insurance credits with National Insurance contributions to make up a qualifying year. This also applies to other types of National Insurance credits you may be entitled to. Your National Insurance credits and National Insurance contributions must be in the same tax year for you to join them together in this way.

If a family member cares for a child on your behalf, it may be possible to transfer your National Insurance credits to them. For more information see 'Getting Credits towards your State Pension'

Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP)

Before 6 April 2010, many people who cared for others were eligible for Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP). HRP helped protect your State Pension entitlement for years when you were not working or your earnings were low. If you reached State Pension age after 5 April 2010, you receive credits not HRP.

HRP reduced the number of qualifying years needed for a State Pension. It was available if you:

If you had HRP years before 6 April 2010, up to 22 of these years are automatically converted into credits towards your basic State Pension.

You were not entitled to HRP if you elected to pay the reduced-rate of National Insurance contributions.

Transferring HRP between partners

If you looked after the children but your partner received Child Benefit, you could apply for any HRP to go on your NI account. You might want to do this because your partner does not need HRP because they were working and paying NI contributions. You can also apply for the credits for parents to be transferred.

Download the relevant application form:

Getting credits for parents - do you need to take action?

You will not need to apply for your National Insurance credits if you get Child Benefit for a child under 12.

If you do not get Child Benefit for a child under 12, you will have to apply for any National Insurance credits you may be entitled to. You should aim to do this by the end of the tax year following that when the caring took place, although late applications may be accepted. For example, if you think you may be eligible for credits between 6 April 2013 and 5 April 2014, you should apply before 5 April 2015.

If you are an approved foster carer, you will need to apply to HMRC. You can download the application form for parents and carers from the HMRC website.

You will need a letter from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) which employs you confirming the period when you are an approved carer.

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