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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

The taxation of pension income: Social security pensions: the State Pension

Part 9 Chapter 5 ITEPA 2003

The State Pension is a contributory benefit based on the payment of National Insurance contributions.

The State Pension is commonly called the National Insurance retirement pension, the state retirement pension or the social security retirement pension.

The State Pension is taxable (see EIM74600).

The new State Pension was introduced on 6 April 2016 for people who reach State Pension age from that date.

People who reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 will continue to receive the State Pension under the old rules.

Who qualifies for the State Pension?

An individual qualifies for the State Pension if he or she reaches pensionable age and satisfies the contribution conditions.

State Pension age is currently 65 for men. Since April 2010, State Pension age for women has been increasing on a sliding scale and will reach 65 by November 2018.

From December 2018, State Pension age for men and women will rise on a sliding scale and reach 66 by October 2020 and 67 by 2028.

War widows (see EIM76103) and industrial widows (see EIM76200) over the age of 60 may be entitled to the State Pension by virtue of their National Insurance contributions. Where this happens the State Pension will be paid in addition to the war or industrial widow’s pensions.

Deferring the State Pension

For many years, anyone meeting the requirements for receiving the State Pension (that is, having reached pensionable age and having a sufficient National Insurance contributions record) has been able to defer receipt of the State Pension by not submitting a claim for the pension. Anyone deferring their pension is compensated for the amount foregone by receiving enhanced weekly pension payments once they do submit a claim.

However, the rules changed with effect from 6 April 2005 as part of the government’s policy of encouraging flexible retirement, and changed again with the introduction of the new State Pension from 6 April 2016.

Anyone already deferring their claim at 5 April 2005 or beginning a period of deferral after that date could choose to defer for as long as they wish. If the period of deferral after 6 April 2005 is less than 12 months, then the pensioner would receive an increased weekly rate of State Pension. This is little changed from the previous position.

However, where a person who reached the State Pension age before 6 April 2016 defers for a period of more than 12 months beginning on or after 6 April 2005, then in respect of the amount foregone after 6 April 2005 the pensioner can choose to receive either:

  • an increased weekly amount of State Pension, or
  • a lump sum, and the weekly State Pension paid at the standard rate

The lump sum is taxable (see EIM74650).

People who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 will claim the new State Pension, and new deferral rules will apply. Under the new rules, no lump sum is available.