Understanding basic State Pension

Understand the basic State Pension including its importance in retirement planning. Find out how much you can get, when you can get it and what to do if you decide to defer claiming or can’t pay National Insurance.

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

Basic State Pension

The basic State Pension is paid to you by the government when you reach State Pension age. It is based on the number of qualifying years that you have gained. Qualifying years are gained through National Insurance contributions (NICs) that you have paid, are treated as having paid or have been credited with throughout your working life.  

Most people build up some State Pension, but the amount they get varies. It is important to understand how you build up State Pension and how much income it will give you in later life.

More information on how to claim your State Pension and National Insurance contributions can be found  on the following nidirect pages:

The State Pension as part of your retirement plan

When you get your State Pension, you will have a regular income for the rest of your life. It can give you a reliable source of income in retirement, although it might not be enough to support the lifestyle you want. You may want to consider saving more money yourself or contributing to a private pension.

If you want to make a plan for your retirement, it's important to know the amount of State Pension that you are building up. Find out how to get a State Pension statement on the following nidirect page:

You may also want to defer (put off claiming) your State Pension in order to build up more money to claim at a later date – find out how to do this and how it will impact your pension:

How much is your State Pension

The State Pension comprises the basic State Pension and the additional State Pension. Different people get different amounts of each.

The amount of State Pension you get depends on how many qualifying years of National Insurance you have built up. You build up qualifying years by paying National Insurance contributions, or you may get National Insurance credited to you by the government.

In 2019/20, a person can get up to £129.20 a week basic State Pension. Some people get less than this. Many people get more than this amount, because they also get an additional State Pension. 

When you can get the State Pension

You won't get your State Pension until you reach State Pension age. You can use the online calculator, at the link below, to find out when you'll reach State Pension age:

You won’t get your State Pension automatically - you have to claim it. For more information about claiming State Pension, go to the link below:

When you can't pay National Insurance

Sometimes you may not be able to pay National Insurance, for example if you are ill or unemployed. In many cases, the government makes your contribution for you by giving you credits.

You may also get credits if you are getting Child Benefit or caring for someone who is sick or disabled. You may also get other types of National Insurance credits.

Adult Dependency Increase

Adult Dependency Increase is a payment for a partner who is financially dependent on you. You may be getting this as part of your State Pension.

Adult Dependency Increase closed to new applications in 2010.

From 6 April 2020 all payments will stop. If you get Adult Dependency Increase now, you’ll keep getting it until then, as long as you’re eligible.

Since 2010, all State Pension customers have been informed about the ending of Adult Dependency Increase via a leaflet included with their annual up-rating notice. As a reminder, customers affected by this change were written to in May 2019.

Further letters are planned for autumn 2019 and a final reminder letter will be sent in April 2020, just before Adult Dependency Increase ends.

When payments stop you may be eligible to apply for Pension Credit or Universal Credit.

Changes in circumstances

If you get Adult Dependency Increase for a spouse or anyone else that lives with you, you’ll need to report any change in circumstances to the Northern Ireland Pension Centre. You must tell them if the person you’re claiming for:

  • starts work
  • stops living with you
  • gets a state benefit
  • gets an occupational or personal pension

If you’re a man claiming the increase for your wife, you’ll stop receiving the increase when she reaches State Pension age. You don’t need to tell the Northern Ireland Pension Centre about this.

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