Caring and your pension

If you cannot work or don't 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.

New State Pension

New State Pension replaced the State Pension scheme for anyone who reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016. You can still receive new State Pension if you have other income like a personal or workplace pension.

Your new State Pension is based on your National Insurance record. National Insurance contributions or credits on your National Insurance record before 6 April 2016 count towards your new State Pension.

You need 35 qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get a full new State Pension. You will usually need at least ten qualifying years to get some new State Pension. The qualifying years don’t need to be consecutive.

State Pension before 6 April 2016

State Pension was 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 was based on the number of 'qualifying years' - which are tax years - in which you  paid, were treated as having paid, or were credited with National Insurance contributions.

A person with 30 qualifying years was entitled to a full basic State Pension. Just one qualifying year, achieved through paid or credited National Insurance contributions, entitled them 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
  • are entitled to Carer's Credit
  • are a foster carer
  • 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
  • get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12

For more information, go to the link below:

Carer's Credit

From 6 April 2010, new National Insurance credits for carers protected your future entitlement to State Pension and bereavement benefits automatically.

The credit may also help you build up some additional pension, sometimes called State Second Pension, but only up to 5 April 2016. Any additional pension you are entitled to will be part of your State Pension when you claim it.

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 
  • Attendance Allowance at any rate
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at any rate
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

If the person or people you care for don't get any qualifying benefits, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit if a health or social care professional certifies they need the hours of care being provided each week.

You will already be getting credits if you get one of the following:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • 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 and get National Insurance credits from HMRC, you don't need to fill in the application form.

Carer's Allowance and National Insurance contributions

For each week you receive Carer's Allowance, you will normally get a Class 1 National Insurance (NI) credit added to your NI record up to the tax year in which you reach State Pension age (unless you are a married woman who has chosen to pay reduced NI contributions).

You will also normally be credited with a NI credit 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

Pension Credit is an entitlement for people who have reached the qualifying age and are living in Northern 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 below.

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