If you qualify then you can get a State Pension from the government when you reach your State Pension age. Your State Pension amount is based on your National Insurance contributions and your own circumstances, so not everyone will get the same amount.
A new State Pension was introduced in April 2016 to provide a simpler system for everyone, but your National Insurance history before then will also be taken into account. If you were in a ‘contracted out’ work pension in the past then as a result, you paid less into the National Insurance system and this may be reflected in the amount you get. Find out more about how your State Pension is calculated.
Your State Pension age is the earliest you can get your State Pension. You can quickly check your State Pension age online at any time. State Pension age is regularly reviewed by the government and may change in the future, so make sure you regularly check what yours is. Some recent proposals were announced, but these don’t affect people born before 1970.
You can get an online forecast of the amount of State Pension you could get, and the earliest date when you can get it.
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Your online forecast may also help you spot any gaps in your National Insurance record. You can get National Insurance credits automatically if you’re claiming certain benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Carers Allowance.
But some others you may need to apply for. This includes National Insurance credits if you’re caring for a child under 12 years of age. These are called “specified adult childcare credits” but are often known as “grandparent credits”.
Find out more about National Insurance credits, including how to claim.
You may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill gaps in your record. This is usually done though paying Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions. Paying voluntary contributions might not be right for everyone – find out more about this option and whether it might be right for you.
Since you’ve been working, you’ve probably been saving into a workplace pension. It’s an easy way to save for later life as you make contributions direct from your pay. When you pay in, in most cases your boss and the government does too.
If you don’t save into a workplace pension when you get the chance, or you choose to leave it, then you’re giving up this extra money from your employer and the government.
Employers will automatically enrol you into a workplace pension if you’re earning £10,000 or more a year and you usually work in the UK – it’s the law.
Whatever your situation, it’s not too late to put some money away for your retirement. Most people can expect to get back more in retirement than they put in their pension.
Your pension scheme provider will usually send you an annual statement so you can see how much is in your pension pot and when you can access it.
If you’ve had a number of jobs through your career then you may have different amounts saved in different pension schemes. The free Pensions Tracing Service can help you find contact details from pension schemes you might have lost track of.
There are other ways to save too, including a personal or stakeholder pension. These are private pensions that you arrange yourself.
If you are self-employed or don’t have the option of a workplace pension, then it’s important to think about saving for later life. There are still pension products out there for you and you might still get tax relief from the government.
Many workplace pensions, personal pensions and stakeholder pensions are held under ‘defined contribution’ schemes. This means they’ll provide you with a pension pot based on how much is paid in, and how the contributions are invested. Find out about the different types of pension, or find out what kind of pension you have by using this free tool.
Pension freedoms mean that you can now decide what you want to do with your defined contribution private pension(s) once you reach normal minimum pension age (usually 55). If you have a defined contribution pension, Pension Wise can help you make sense of your options before making any decisions.
It won’t recommend any products or tell you what to do with your money. Instead, it offers free impartial guidance, including information about tax, comparing products, getting financial advice and avoiding scams.
You can access Pension Wise online or book a free telephone or face to face appointment anywhere in the UK. A free telephone appointment is also available for those living abroad.
You can get impartial advice about pensions from The Pensions Advisory Service. The Money Advice Service can help with advice about retirement planning, savings and managing your money. You can also talk to an independent financial adviser, but you’ll usually have to pay for the advice.