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The flat rate state pension: FAQ

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The new state pension pays a flat rate each week for people retiring after April 2016. Find out how it works and how much you’ll get with our guide.

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The new state pension was introduced in April 2016 and replaces the old basic state pension for men born on or after 6th April 1951 and women born on or after 6th April 1953. Get to grips with the scheme with our answers to your frequently asked questions.

How much does the new state pension pay?

The full new state pension is currently £179.60 a week, which works out at £9,339.20 a year (2021/22).

However, you may get more or less than this depending on a number of factors including the amount of national insurance you have paid.

How do I qualify for the full state pension?

To qualify for the maximum payment of the new state pension you need to have 35 years of national insurance contributions. If you have more than 10 years (but less than 35) you will get a proportional amount. If you have less than 10 you will not be entitled to any state pension at all.

What if I have also accrued benefits under the old scheme?

Many people retiring after April 2016 will also have accrued benefits under the old scheme. You may have additional state pension or have benefits that resulted from ‘contracting out’ - two elements of the old system that were abolished when the new scheme launched.

These benefits will be reflected in your state benefit and confusingly may mean you get more than the ‘full state’ pension payment of £179.60 a week. 

The amount you get will be the higher of:

  • The benefit you would have received on the last day of the old system

  • The benefit you would have received had the new pension been in operation throughout your working life

Any amount you receive above the full new state pension is called your ‘protected payment’.

How can I work out what I’ll get?

The new system may have been designed to be simple. However, for those who have accrued benefits under both the new single tier pension and the old basic pension, it’s anything but.

Working out exactly what you are entitled to yourself is complicated. However, you can apply for a state pension forecast to find out exactly what you will get.

You can get your state pension forecast here.

Can my spouse’s NI contributions count towards my state pension?

Sadly not. Under the new scheme only your NI contributions will be taken into account, meaning you cannot claim based on your partner's working history (the married couple's pension has been abolished).

Pension eligibility is now on an individual basis, which means married people without enough qualifying years will no longer receive a proportion of their partner's entitlement when they die.

I’ve got a gap in my NI record, what can I do?

If you have gaps in your NI record it is possible to plug them by purchasing voluntary NI contributions as long as you’re still under state pension age. To find out if this could boost your eventual state pension call the Future Pension Centre helpline on 0800 731 0175.

You should also be aware that you can still receive NI credits for years you aren’t in work. For example, if you took a career break to have a family, looked after your grandchildren, were a carer or you claimed certain benefits.

Does the state pension go up each year?

Yes, the state pension rises each year to help you cope with rising costs of living. Next year the new state pension will rise by 3.1% and go up to £185.15 a week (£9,627.80 a year).

The state pension is normally protected by something called the ‘triple lock’. This means it goes up by the greater of wage growth, inflation or 2.5%.

This year, earnings growth that came about as a result of last year’s furlough scheme ending would have seen the state pension rise by 8%, so the government took the decision to suspend the triple lock. Instead, it has linked the state pension increase to inflation which rose by 3.1% in the year to September.

When can I claim my state pension?

The days of claiming the state pension at 60 for women and 65 for men are now long gone and state pension ages are gradually going up. State pension ages have also been equalised so that both men and women now retire at the same age.

The current state pension age is 66 and it is set to reach 67 by 2028 before rising to 68 by 2046. You can find out when you will reach state pension age here.

What can I do to boost my retirement income?

For many people the state pension would not be enough on its own for you to keep up the lifestyle you have in work. This is why it is so important to make sure you also have another source of income. 

All employers must now offer a workplace pension; make sure you are paying in and increase your contributions above the minimum level if you can.

Check your projected income from that, the state pension and any other sources of income to see where you will stand.

If it still feels light, and you can afford to, look at either boosting your pension contributions or contributing to another retirement savings plan - such as a private pension or Lifetime ISA.

About Hannah Maundrell

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