For anyone wishing to claim State Pension in the future, it is worth checking - before 5 April 2023 - whether there are any gaps in National Insurance Contributions. Transitional arrangements, which end on 5 April 2023 mean that voluntary NI contributions can be made as far back as 2006, rather than the usual six years.
To claim any State Pension, individuals usually need at least 10 qualifying years on their National Insurance (NI) record.
Under the ‘new State Pension’ rules, 35 qualifying years are usually needed to claim the full state pension for those retiring on or after 6 April 2016 - although this may be higher where an individual’s NI record started before 6 April 2016.
Some individuals may have gaps in their record if they have not received NI credits or have not paid any, or sufficient, NI in some years.
Where there are gaps in an individual's NI record, an individual can choose to pay voluntary NICs in order to obtain a higher State Pension entitlement (or entitlement to other state benefits).
Voluntary contributions might be particularly relevant for people who are close to the State Pension age and do not have enough qualifying years.
Voluntary contributions can usually only be paid for the past six years. This means that gaps for the tax year 2016-17 must be made up by 5 April 2023.
However… there is an exception to this six-year rule for:
Men born after 5 April 1951.
Women born after 5 April 1953.
Those that are eligible have until 5 April 2023 to pay voluntary contributions for gaps in NIC records between April 2006 and April 2016.
After 5 April 2023, this opportunity will be lost.
To take advantage of this opportunity, individuals should:
Check their contribution history for gaps and obtain a State Pension forecast.
Contact HMRC if any errors are identified.
Confirm if they are eligible to pay voluntary contributions in respect of any gaps.
Establish how much voluntary contributions will cost and consider making up any shortfall, particularly for the period April 2006 to April 2017, before this opportunity is lost on 6 April 2023.
NI records and State Pension forecasts can be viewed online, via an individual’s Personal Tax Account. Alternatively, records can be requested from HMRC by phone or post.
It has been reported that there are significant delays in the DWP responding to queries, so it would be wise to act now, rather than waiting until the last minute.