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Making sure you've stopped paying National Insurance

You pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) during your working life. These build your entitlement to the State Pension and certain other benefits. The class of NICs you pay depends on your income and whether you're employed or self-employed. You stop paying NICs when you reach State Pension age.

National Insurance contributions up to State Pension age

If you work - either as an employee or self-employed - and your earnings are over a certain level you pay National Insurance contributions. You pay NICs from age 16 until you reach State Pension age.

If you're employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions as a percentage of your earnings. If you're self-employed you pay Class 2 contributions at a flat weekly rate and Class 4 contributions annually, as a percentage of your taxable profits.

Changes to State Pension age

The age you receive your State Pension is changing. To find out if you're affected, see the link below, 'Calculate the date of your retirement'.

What happens at State Pension age?

Once you reach State Pension age you don't have to pay Class 1 or Class 2 NICs if you continue working. You only have to pay them on any earnings that were due to be paid to you before you reached State Pension age.

If you continue in employment

If you stay in employment after State Pension age you'll need to provide your employer with proof that you've reached this age. This will allow your employer to stop deducting National Insurance contributions from your earnings. You can do this by showing them any of the following:

  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • certificate of age exception

If you continue in self-employment

If you stay self-employed after you reach State Pension age you may still have to pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions. It is an annual charge and you may still have to pay this on any taxable profits for the year in which you reach State Pension age. You won't have to pay this in the following tax year.

Certificate of age exception

The Northern Ireland Pension Centre issues a pack to customers approaching State Pension age giving information on age exemption. If you tell them that you're continuing to work when you claim your State Pension, a certificate of age exception will be sent automatically. If you don't get a certificate, for example if you put off claiming State Pension, you can either:

  • use your birth certificate or passport as proof of age
  • ask HM Revenue & Customs to send a certificate to you

A certificate of age exception can be on card or paper. Both are equally acceptable as proof of age.

If you think you've overpaid NICs

You might find you've overpaid NICs in certain circumstances. For example:

  • you continued working after State Pension age and your employer continued to deduct Class 1 NICs
  • you paid Class 4 NICs on profits from self-employment in respect of a tax year after the one in which you reached State Pension age
  • you paid Class 2 NICs as a self-employed person when your earnings were below the Small Earnings Exception (SEE) limit

If you think you may have overpaid follow the link below which gives details on how to claim back overpaid NICs.

More useful links