If you’re entitled to a State Pension, then you normally get a letter around four months before you reach your State Pension age. You don’t get the State Pension automatically, you’ll need to claim it – you can do that online, over the phone or by post.
The State Pension changed on 6 April 2016. If you reached your State Pension age before 6 April 2016, then you will still get your State Pension under the previous system. This includes the basic State Pension and additional State Pension (if you’re eligible).
If you reached your State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, then you’ll claim the new State Pension. But your National Insurance history before then will also be taken into account.
Increasing your State Pension
You don’t have to claim your State Pension straight away. If you delay claiming it, then the amount you get can increase. Find out more about deferring your State Pension.
If you have gaps in your National Insurance record, then check whether you have any gaps that you could fill. You may be able to apply for some National Insurance credits if they’re not already shown, such as if you were caring for a child under 12. Or, you can consider paying voluntary National Insurance contributions to fill those gaps, but these aren’t right for everyone. Filling gaps might increase how much State Pension you get.
Working past State Pension age
You’re not forced to stop working just because you reached your State Pension age.
If you continue to work then you might not need to pay National Insurance contributions anymore, so you keep more of your earnings. Staying in work means you keep earning and can keep saving too. If you are over State Pension age and under 75, you can choose to opt-in to your employer’s workplace pension scheme if you want to. Your employer will also still make contributions to your pension if you earn over £5,876 (at 2017/18 rates) and you might still get tax relief from the government.
But if you’re ready for a change of job or pace, then you have the right to ask your employer about flexible working. Your employer may be happy for you to change to flexible or part-time hours, or you might want to think about different types of jobs.
We have more advice for people thinking about changing the way they work.
Extra financial help
If you don’t have an adequate income in retirement, then you may be able to receive Pension Credit. This is an income-related benefit that can increase your total weekly income, including any State Pension, to a minimum amount.
Pension Credit isn’t based on your National Insurance contributions. You may get Pension Credit even if you aren’t eligible for any State Pension.
The exact amount will depend on your individual circumstances. In the 2017 to 2018 tax year, this minimum amount is £159.35 for single people or £243.25 for couples. But you may receive more if you have a severe disability, caring responsibilities or certain housing costs.
You can also apply for an older person’s bus pass or transport pass to help with free travel.
If you were born on or before 5 May 1953, you could get extra help to pay your heating bills this winter. It’s normally paid automatically if you’re receiving State Pension or some other benefits. If not, you’ll need to claim it.