State pension: Voluntary NI rules explained – make sure your contributions boost payments

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State pension income is dependent on NI records and ahead of retiring, people can check on their NI record to see if they have any gaps. Where these gaps exist, people may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill them.

However, it should be noted that voluntary contributions do not always increase state pensions.

To see if contributions will boost state pensions, people will need to contact the Future Pension Centre to find out if they’ll benefit.

The Government also notes people may want to get financial advice before making any voluntary contributions.

People may want to pay voluntary contributions if they’re close to state pension age and do not have enough NI years to qualify or, they know they will not be able to get the qualifying years needed to get the full state pension during their remaining working life.

The Future Pension Centre themselves can be contacted by phone, post or online.

Payees will need to be eligible to pay voluntary NI contributions for the time that the contributions cover.

Currently, people can usually only pay for gaps covering the previous six years.

Some retirees born in the on or before the early 1950s may be able to backdate contributions beyond this time frame.

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Voluntary NI is paid through either class two or class three contributions.

The type of NI paid will depend on employment, living and relationship statuses.

It should be noted people will not be able to pay voluntary contributions if they’re:

  • Eligible for National Insurance credits
  • A married woman or widow paying reduced rates through “small stamp” rules

Payees should also remember that making voluntary contributions is not a cost free endeavour.

For the current tax year, payees will be charged £3.05 per week for class two contributions.

This rises to £15.30 for class three.

To find out what may be owed, the Government advises people to contact HMRC for guidance.

Both classes can be paid through direct debit, telephone banking, CHAPS, Bacs, physically through a bank or by cheque.

The deadline for paying voluntary contributions falls on April 5 every year.

National Insurance records themselves can be checked on the Government’s website.

To start this process, users will need their Government Gateway user ID and password at the ready.

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