The earliest you can get the basic State Pension is when you reach State Pension age.
You need 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits to get the full basic State Pension. This means for 30 years at least one of the following applied to you:
- you were working and paid National Insurance
- you were getting National Insurance Credits, for example for unemployment, sickness or as a parent or carer
- you were paying voluntary National Insurance contributions
If you have fewer than 30 years, your basic State Pension will be less than £119.30 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.
When you’re working you pay National Insurance and get a qualifying year if:
- you’re employed and earning over £155 a week from one employer
- you’re self-employed and paying National Insurance contributions
You might not pay National Insurance contributions if you’re earning less than £155 a week. You may still get a qualifying year if you earn between £112 and £155 a week from one employer.
You’re not working
You may get National Insurance credits if you can’t work, for example because of illness or disability, you’re a carer or if you’re unemployed.
For example if you:
- claim Child Benefit for a child under 12 (or under 16 before 2010)
- get Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
- get Carer’s Allowance
Before April 2010 you may have got National Insurance credits under Home Responsibilities Protection.
Married or in a civil partnership
If you’re not eligible for a basic State Pension or not getting the full amount, you might qualify for a ‘top up’ to £71.50 per week through your spouse’s or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions if:
- you’ve both reached State Pension age
- your spouse or civil partner qualifies for some basic State Pension, even if they haven’t claimed it
- your spouse or civil partner was born on or after 6 April 1950 - this doesn’t apply if you’re a woman married to a man, or a woman married to a woman who legally changed their gender after your marriage began
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 can no longer get the Adult Dependency Increase for someone who is looking after children or financially dependent on you. If you got it on or before 5 April 2010 you’ll keep it until 5 April 2020 provided you’re eligible until then.
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.