Join MoneyMagpie today!
Log in or Register.
Aug 04

Get what you’re entitled to with the state pension changes

Reading Time: 5 mins

The State Pension has changed beyond recognition in recent years. If you’re 55 or over, it’s important to get to grips with the changes, so you can take advantage of any benefits – and are not caught out by any nasty surprises.



The flat rate state pension

Elderly hands holding cash

This was introduced back in April 2016, and in principle means everyone who retires after that date is entitled to the same pension payment.

However, in order to qualify for the full payment, you will need

  • 35 years of National Insurance contributions
  • or credits for the years when you had caring responsibilities.This is an increase from 30 years under the old system.
  • If you have fewer than 35 years, you will receive less.
  • If you have fewer than ten years, you will not be entitled to a State Pension at all.
  • There may also be a reduction if you were contracted out of the State Pension for any period. The government works on the basis that you were building up pension entitlements elsewhere as a result. It therefore reduces your State Pension accordingly.

If you are concerned that any of these exceptions may apply to you, it’s worth getting a State Pension forecast.


Transition arrangements for the new state pension

Senior couple using laptop

Before April 2016, the State Pension worked on a two-tier system. There was a basic state pension, received by almost everyone, and a state second pension (S2P). The latter was based on the contributions you made into it. These, in turn, were based on your salary and number of years of contributions.

The dramatic change in the system risked penalising those with large S2P contributions. It means that the new system has transition arrangements built in. These calculate what you have built up under the old system, and what you have built up by April 2016 under the new system. It then uses the higher of the two figures as your ‘starting amount’. After April 2016, any further years that you pay National Insurance will be added to that starting amount, until you hit the flat rate State Pension.

If you built up more than the flat rate under the old system, that will be protected, and you will receive the higher amount. However, any further National Insurance contributions made from that time onwards will not add to your State Pension.


National Insurance contributions

Senior couple doing finances on a laptop

You can apply to see your National Insurance record through the government website or call its helpline on 0300 200 3500.

However, you can’t use this service

  • if you’re already getting your State Pension
  • or if you’ve delayed (‘deferred’) claiming it.

Here you will be able to see how many years of National Insurance contributions you have made so far.

  • If you need to ‘buy back’ some years to hit 35, you can do that.
  • You can usually pay a lump sum to top up the past six years of National Insurance contributions.
  • Your record will show how many years you are able to buy back, and how much it will cost you.

Bear in mind that the Class 3A contributions, the short-term top-up option, expired in April 2017, so you will no longer be able to top up your state pension by up to £25 a week by paying an additional lump sum.


have you been unable to work?

For those who have been unable to work, either due to long-term illness or caring responsibilities, you may be able to get additional National Insurance credits.

What’s more, those who are in receipt of Child Benefit (with a child under 12), Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit or Carer’s Allowance, you will automatically get these extra NI credits

However, there are some scenarios where you will have to make an application, but you will need to wait until the tax year – which runs from 6 April to 5 April – is over before you can apply for credits for the previous 12 months.

To find out more, take a look on


increase in the State Pension Age

Retirement age graph

Traditionally men retired at 65 and women at 60, but in an age of gender equality and with an ageing population, the government decided that this wasn’t sustainable.

The State Pension age has been rising for women since 2010. The first rises were gradual, but the process was subsequently accelerated, so that in 2018 it was suddenly 65.

At that point the State Pension age rose for both men and women to reach

  • 66 by 2020,
  • and 67 by 2028.

It will then rise in line with longevity. It is broadly expected that young people in work today will not receive a State Pension until they are in their 70s at least.

You can check your predicted State Pension age at’s State Pension age calculator.


Pension freedom

In the past, if you had a defined contribution pension (DC pension), you would eventually have to use your pension pot to buy an annuity. An annuity is a kind of insurance product whereby you are paid a fixed amount every year until you die, whether that’s three years or thirty three years (or more!). The amount you get depends on your age, how much you have in your pot and what interest rate the insurance/pension company offers you. It’s very important, therefore, to shop around for the right annuity if you do go for one.

Since April 2015, though, pensioners have had far more freedom. Now when you retire you don’t have to buy an annuity.

Now you are able to access your pension pot at the age of 55.

  • You can still buy an annuity, if you want but you can also take whatever sums you like from the pension pot – whenever you like.
  • You can use it to draw a regular income, or withdraw every penny on day one (although I  wouldn’t do that as you will have to pay a load of tax if you do).
  • You will be subject to tax at your marginal rate (i.e. whatever level your income puts you on), but this is far less than the old charge of 55% on full withdrawals.

You can get more details from the Pensions Advisory Service, and guidance relating to your own circumstances from the government information service Pensions Wise.


Useful Links


0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

if i have over 30 years n.i.c. on my retirement at 65 what happens the extra years paid

9 years ago

I deferred my state pension in January 2010 . I dont want to take the lump sum because it is taxable. Can I claim my state pension now, even though I am still working? I have no savings as I returned to work just before I reached 60 due to personal circumstances. I have no private pension either. I thought I I pick up the state pension now, I can put it into a savings account and accrue some interest on it when I do retire. I am female. This will probably when I am 90 at this rate! Thanks… Read more »

9 years ago
Reply to  doreen

should have proof read my post, too many ‘I’ hope it makes sense 🙂

9 years ago


I receive a reduced pension as I worked a mix of full and part-time over the years and did not accumulate 30 years of National Insurance payments. At the time I was advised that I need not pay full National Insurance to get a full pension. It may have suited my employer.

It has come to my notice that there are situations whereby a full pension may be paid in such circumstances above or where time has been taken off to look after children. Is this correct?

Ms f costello
Ms f costello
9 years ago

Once I have accumulated 30 years of national insurance payments am I still liable for payments if I continue in full time employment?

9 years ago
Reply to  Ms f costello

Sadly you do still have to pay I’m afraid!

Peter Hawkins
Peter Hawkins
9 years ago
Reply to  Jasmine

After my wife retired this year, I have been considering the options of joining her in retirement due to me suffering from cancer.
Although I have not reached retirement age myself, I have read the article on the opt out of work for men under 60 for £202 a week pension credit. I have paid my national insurance contributions for 35 years.
Would I still need to pay my national insurance contributions if I join my wife in retirement, and if so, how much will it be, and where do I send the payment.
Kind Regards,

Mary (Fielding)
Mary (Fielding)
9 years ago

Hi Jasmine,
I am registered disabled and rceive the higher mobility DLA. I was told that although now 58 yrs old that I would receive my pension at 60 yrs of age- not 62 yrs and 8 mths due to the changes in pension age. Is this still the same? Many thanks. Mary

9 years ago

There are also proposed changes which I don’t think you have mentioned where women in a certain agegroup (around 56+) may have to work until they are 66 (see website). Totally unfair as we are unprepared for the speed in which these changes may well be implemented.

10 years ago

What happens if you are not married, but have been living with your partner for years??

10 years ago
Reply to  Ros

You don’t qualify. You have to be either married or gay and in a civil partnership. Even if you’ve lived together for years you don’t have a connection to their pension.

Mrs E Black
Mrs E Black
10 years ago

Will I be entitled to receive an increase in my pension as I am now 65 yrs old. I have been receiving the pension since I was 60 but I wonder if it will be going up.

p berry
10 years ago

You fail to point out that this Government as failed to honour the promise made by the government of the day that when they introduced the Graduated pension and the Serps they stated that they would increase at the same rate as the basic pension. This government are not paying any increase on this part of the pension for 2010/11. I think you should bring this point out in the open where ever youcan and as often as possible

10 years ago

I’ve had a few different jobs over the years since starting work after university; 3 longterm ‘permanent’, a couple ‘temporary’ through temping agencies. How do I find out if I’ve paid enough contributions over the years?

Related Articles

Experian Financial Control

Make Money and Save Money

ideas for everyone
Send this to a friend