Qualifying for basic State Pension

Basic State Pension is based on the number of qualifying years you achieve during your working life. Find out more about when you can claim a basic State Pension.

This information is for a man born before 6 April 1951 or a woman born before 6 April 1953

Qualifying years

A 'qualifying year' is a tax year (April to April) during which you have paid, or have been credited with enough, National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to make that year qualify towards your Basic State Pension.

You need 30 years of National Insurance Contributions or credits to be eligible for the full basic State Pension. This means you were either:

  • working and paying National Insurance
  • getting National Insurance Credits, for example for unemployment, sickness or as a parent or carer
  • paying voluntary National Insurance contributions

Basic State Pension

The full basic State Pension is £125.95 a week. If you have fewer than 30 qualifying years, your basic State Pension will be less than £125.95 per week but you might be able to top up by paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.

National Insurance Credits

You may be able to get National Insurance credits if you’re not paying National Insurance, for example when you’re claiming benefits because you’re ill or unemployed. You can also qualify as a parent or carer.

Credits can help to fill gaps in your National Insurance record, to make sure you qualify for certain benefits including the State Pension.

Married or in a civil partnership

If you’re not eligible for a basic State Pension or you’re not getting the full amount, you might qualify for a ‘top up’ to £75.50 per week through your spouse’s or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions.

You can get the ‘top up’ if both of you have reached State Pension age and either:

  • your spouse or civil partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and qualifies for some basic State Pension, even if they haven’t claimed it
  • your spouse or civil partner reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 and has at least one qualifying year of National Insurance contributions or credits from before 6 April 2016, even if they don’t qualify for any new State Pension or they haven’t claimed it

If your spouse or civil partner was born before 6 April 1950, you can only get the ‘top up’ if you’re a woman who is married to either:

  • a man
  • a woman who legally changed their gender from male to female during your marriage

If you qualify for the ‘top up’ you should get it automatically.

If you’re not getting the ‘top up’ but think you qualify, contact the Pension Service.

You’ll get any Additional State Pension or Graduated Retirement Benefit based on your own contributions as well as the ‘top up’.

If you get Adult Dependency Increase for a spouse or for anyone else who lives with you, you’ll need to report any change in circumstances. Go to the link below to find out who to contact:

You don’t qualify for a State Pension

If you’re not covered by any of these groups but want a State Pension you might be able to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions.

For more information go to the link below:

Men born before 1945 and women born before 1950

You need more qualifying years to get a full State Pension and a certain minimum number of years to get any State Pension at all.


Number of years needed for a full State Pension

Number of years needed for any State Pension

Men born before 6 April 1945



Women born before 6 April 1950



Transgender people

Your State Pension might be affected if you’re a transgender person and you:

  • were born between 24 December 1919 and 3 April 1945
  • were claiming State Pension before 4 April 2005
  • can provide evidence that your gender reassignment surgery took place before 4 April 2005

You don’t need to do anything if you legally changed your gender and started claiming State Pension on or after 4 April 2005 - you’ll already be claiming based on your legal gender.



Share this page


Your comments are anonymous and can’t be responded to - if you would like a reply, use the feedback form.

Your comments
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum. Don't include personal or financial information.