If you haven’t already retired, you need to rack up 35 full years of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in order to receive the maximum state retirement pension. To receive any amount of state retirement pension, you need at least 10 full years of NICs contributions.
Your online personal tax account (at: www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account) will show you how many full years of NICs you have and also where there are gaps in your NICs record throughout your lifetime.
These gaps can arise where you haven’t worked for a period, such as when studying, or caring for children. In many cases a break in work should be automatically filled with NIC credits, but in some circumstances (e.g. when acting as foster carer or a grandparent caring for a child), you may need to apply for class 3 NICs credits.
Where you have a gap in your NICs record, you can normally go back up to six years and pay voluntary contributions to fill in the missing weeks, thus making a tax year complete for NICs. Note that only complete NICs years count towards your state pension. You therefore have until 5 April 2023 to make up gaps in the tax year 2016/17.
However, currently, there is a special dispensation that allows women aged under 70 and men aged under 72 to complete gaps in their NICs record right back to 6 April 2006. This opportunity to make up these old years with voluntary NIC payments closes on 5 April 2023, so there is not much time to take action!
We can help you calculate whether it is worthwhile filling gaps in your NICs record.