Getting credits towards your State Pension

You may not be able to pay National Insurance, for example if you are ill or caring for someone. The government may give you credits so you can continue building up State Pension entitlement.

Protecting your State Pension with National Insurance credits

You may become entitled to some State Pension based on credits alone. Depending on your situation, your credits may also contribute to an additional State Pension.

There are different ways of getting credits. You often receive the credits automatically but in some cases you need to take action to get them.

Credits for people in full-time training

If you are aged over 18 and in full-time training, you will get credits. This is provided the training is approved and does not last longer than a year.

Government sponsored courses are approved automatically. This does not apply to university students.

These credits count towards State Pension only.

If the training course is government sponsored you do not need to take any action to get the credits. If it is not government sponsored, you will need to apply to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Credits for parents and carers

You may get credits if you are caring for someone.

You may get credits if you are:

  • registered for Child Benefit for a child under 12
  • a registered foster carer
  • caring for one or more sick people or people with disabilities for at least 20 hours a week

These credits count towards State Pension.

You do not normally need to take any action if you are already claiming:

  • Carer's Allowance
  • Child Benefit for a child under 12
  • Income Support and you are regularly and engaged in a lot of caring

If the above does not apply, you need to apply for the credits.

See ‘Caring and your pension’ to find out more about credits for carers.

Home Responsibilities Protection

Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) was a scheme to help protect a person’s State Pension. It has been replaced with National Insurance credits for parents and carers.

You may still be able to apply for HRP if you were:

  • caring for a sick or disabled person for a complete tax year before April 2010
  • a foster carer for a complete tax year before April 2010

For more information, visit the following page on GOV.UK:

Credits for specified adults caring for a child under 12

Since 6 April 2011 a specified adult, looking after a child under 12, can apply to be credited with Class 3 National Insurance contributions.

These credits are Specified Adult Childcare credits and count towards State Pension and Bereavement Benefit.

To find out if you're eligible for the credits, download:

To apply for Specific Adult Childcare credits, download:

How to apply for Carer’s Credit

You can request an application pack by telephone from:

  • Disability and Carers Service
  • Jobs and Benefits offices
  • Benefit Enquiry Line

You can also download a Carer's Credit claim form (CC1), guidance notes and car certificate

Complete the application form and include any Care Certificates you need to support your application.

Carers can apply for Carer's Credit up to the end of the tax year following the tax year when caring took place.

Credits for unemployed people looking for work

If you are unemployed and looking for work you can get credits, provided you are:

  • claiming Jobseeker's Allowance
  • available for and actively searching for work but not in education or doing paid work for 16 hours or more a week

These credits count towards State Pension.

If you are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance, you do not have to take any action. If you are not receiving Jobseeker's Allowance, you must contact your local Jobs and Benefits office.

Credits for illness, disability or maternity leave

If you are unable to work because of illness, disability or maternity, you can get credits. You need to be claiming one of the following:

  • Incapacity Benefit/ Employment and Support Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Unemployability Supplement or Allowance

This entitles you to State Pension. If you are unable to work for more than a year because of illness or disability you may also get credits towards the State Pension. Depending on which benefit you are claiming, you may need to take action to get credits.

People getting Working Tax Credit

If you are claiming Working Tax Credit you can get credits (unless you are already paying National Insurance contributions). 

Credits for spouses of members of Her Majesty's forces

If you are married to, or in a registered civil partnership with a member of Her Majesty's forces and you accompany them on an overseas posting, you may not be paying UK National Insurance. This means you may have gaps in your National Insurance record that could affect your entitlement to a full State Pension.

From 6 April 2016, a new Class 3 National Insurance credit is available for postings since 1975.

People who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 can also apply for Class 3 National Insurance credits for past periods during which they were married to, or in a civil partnership with, a member of HM Armed Forces and accompanying them on a posting outside the UK.

This new credit will also apply to people who are widowed, divorced or who’ve had their civil partnership dissolved (as long as they were married or in a civil partnership at the time of the posting).

People can apply for credits for accompanied postings overseas which have taken place since 1975/76. They can also claim for postings that take place after 6 April 2010 if they haven’t claimed the Class 1 credit or if they are unable to because they’re outside the time limit.

Applications for this new credit will be accepted from 6 April 2016.  People can apply for credits for each week they were on the accompanied posting.

Find out about making an application on the GOV.UK

For more information download the leaflet at the link below.

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