If you’re planning to claim the UK state pension, take the time to check your National Insurance (NI) record before 5th April 2023 for any gaps. If you have gaps in your National Insurance record it may mean that you don’t have enough years of contributions to be able to get the full state pension or to qualify for some benefits.
National insurance contributions are typically made by employed and self-employed individuals based on their earnings. If eligible, individuals may also receive NI credits. These NI contributions or credits make up a person’s NI history, which may affect their entitlement to the state pension as well as other benefits, such as employment and support allowance.
If individuals have not contributed enough prior to reaching state pension age, they may not be able to claim state pension, or receive the full state pension amount. It may be beneficial to make voluntary NI contributions to top up your contribution history in order to protect your state pension and other benefits. If you are unsure whether there are any gaps in your record then you can log on to your government gateway and click on “View gaps in your record” within the National Insurance section.
The usual deadlines allow you to pay voluntary contributions for the past 6 years and the deadline for doing this is 5th April each year. However there is currently an extension in place. If you are a male born after 5th April 1951 or a female born after 5th April 1953 then you have until the 5th April 2023 to pay voluntary payments not only for the usual 6 years but you can also, if eligible, pay voluntary contributions to make up for gaps between April 2006 and April 2016.
From 6 April 2023, the timeframe for making voluntary contributions will revert to the normal six years. Individuals should therefore take the opportunity to check their NI record to identify any shortfalls in their NI history.
Actions for taxpayers to take before 5 April 2023:
- Check your NI record
- Identify any discrepancies between NI contributions paid and those showing on HMRC’s system
- Identify any NI credits that are missing from periods in which they should have been received (eg, on receipt of universal credit or child benefit)
- Identify any shortfalls in contributions
- Contact HMRC if you think there are any errors
- Decide whether to make voluntary NI contributions
If this may apply to you please look at the guidance on the Gov.uk website, Voluntary National Insurance: Gaps in your National Insurance record
*Financial advice is recommended when making any decisions.
Since publishing this article, The UK government has extended the voluntary National Insurance deadline to 5th April 2025 to give taxpayers more time to fill gaps in their National Insurance record and help increase the amount they receive in State Pension, this is an extension of nearly 2 years. By extending the deadline for voluntary National Insurance contributions until 2025, individuals are provided with additional time to consider whether paying these contributions is right for them, and it guarantees that nobody will miss the opportunity to enhance their State Pension entitlements.