The earliest you can get the basic State Pension is when you reach State Pension age.
To get the full basic State Pension you need a total of 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits. 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
If you have fewer than 30 qualifying years, your basic State Pension will be less than £122.30 per week but you might be able to top up by paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.
Get a State Pension statement to find out how many qualifying years you already have.
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 £73.30 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 in addition to the ‘top up’.
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.
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.
|Who||Number of years needed for a full State Pension||Number of years needed for any State Pension|
|Men born before 6 April 1945||44||11|
|Women born before 6 April 1950||39||10|
Your State Pension might be affected if you’re a transsexual 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 - you’ll already be claiming based on your legal gender.