Guide to the UK State Pension

5 minute read

After years of paying national insurance contributions, it's good to know the UK State Pension will be there for you when you retire.

But what is it the State Pension, when will you get it, and how do you claim?

What is the State Pension?

The UK state pension is a regular payment you will receive from the government once you reach the State Pension Age.

The state pension pays a 'flat-rate' pension up to a maximum of £168.60 a week representative of £8,767.20 per year (2019-20), for people retiring on or after 6 April 2016. The amount you receive will be based on your national insurance contributions.

The State Pension age

The UK State Pension age is the age at which you become eligible to claim your pension. This age may be different to the age at which you can begin claiming a workplace or personal pension, commonly 55 for personal pensions.

Use the GOV.uk tool to find out your State Pension age.

You can continue to work after you reach the State Pension age, unless the job you do required certain physical abilities, or the retirement age is set by law, for those in the Police for example.

You can claim the State Pension whilst working if you wish to work past the State Pension age, or you could choose to defer your State Pension and receive a higher income from it later.

Increasing your State Pension by deferring it

You could receive more than the maximum flat rate if you choose to delay taking your payments once you reach the state pension age.

The payments you receive will increase by 1% for every 9 weeks you delay taking them. Below is an example of how this affects your payments over the course of one year.

  • Yearly increase if you delay by one year = +£506
  • How this will affect your weekly payments = +£9.74

Why you might receive less than the maximum flat-rate

You may receive less than the maximum State Pension if;

  • If you don't have 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits to receive the maximum flat-rate state pension
  • If you haven't paid any voluntary contributions to make up for any shortfall you may have
  • If you were 'contracted out' (opted out of additional state pension scheme that existed before 6 April 2016
You can request a copy of your National Insurance record from HM Revenue & Customs or by logging into your personal tax account.

Claiming your State Pension

The Pension Service should automatically send you a claims form four months before you reach your State Pension Age.

If you don't get the forms you can call the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898.

Things to consider

  • You have to claim your state pension if you are eligible for one.
  • Everyone will build up entitlement based on their national insurance contributions.
  • If you have less than 10 years national insurance contributions, you won't normally be entitled to any State Pension.
  • The state pension is paid directly into your current account
  • You don't have to take your state pension straight away, you can defer it.
  • You have to pay tax on your state pension and it counts towards your personal allowance.

Did you reach the state pension age before April 2016?

If you reached the state pension age before April 2016 the most you can currently receive is £129.20 per week.

If you receive a higher State Pension under the previous State Pension scheme, you'll still be entitled to the higher amount.

Visit the Gov.uk website to find out more about the old basic state pension rules