The State Pension Explained
Updated: Aug 27
The State Pension is the basic pension paid to retired people over 65, depending on how much they have paid into the system during their working life.
For many people, this pension will be their only income during retirement, so it’s important to understand what your entitlement is, how you can get it and whether or not you will get extra money if you are married, or if you care for someone else on a regular basis in your home.
If you’re confused about any aspect of the State Pension, or want to find out more about how it works and how to claim it, read on to find out more.
Basics of the State Pension
The state pension is a regular payment from the government that you can claim when you reach state pension age. The amount you get depends on how much National Insurance you have paid or been credited with.
You may be able to get extra payments on top of the basic state pension, depending on your circumstances. The state pension is not means-tested, so it does not matter how much other income or savings you have.
You can claim the state pension even if you have never worked. It is based on how much National Insurance you have paid or been credited with in the UK and abroad. If you do not qualify for the full basic state pension, there are two ways in which you might still be entitled to some money:
Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
These benefits are designed for people who cannot look after themselves because they are ill or disabled. For example, if someone has always been employed and has little National Insurance contributions but now needs care, they could apply for Attendance Allowance instead of a full state pension.
They will need medical evidence to support their application - either from their GP or consultant.
How much you'll get, and when
The amount you'll receive from the State Pension depends on your National Insurance record. You can start claiming the State Pension when you reach state pension age - this is currently 65 for men and women, but it's due to rise to 66 for both sexes soon.
Who can get a State Pension
The State Pension is a regular payment from the government that you can claim when you reach State Pension age.
You need at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any State Pension, and 35 years to get the full amount. The amount you'll get is also affected by whether or not you have a private pension.
The exact amount you get depends on your National Insurance record. You may be able to get some State Pension even if you haven’t paid National Insurance, for example if you are a carer or have brought up children. If you've lived in another European Economic Area (EEA) country and made National Insurance contributions there, you might also qualify.
How to apply for the State Pension
You can apply for the State Pension online, by phone, or by post. The quickest and easiest way to apply is online. To do this, you'll need to create a Government Gateway account.
You'll need to provide some basic information about yourself, including your National Insurance number. Once you've created an account, you can start your application for the State Pension.
This will take you through a series of questions which will help the department identify what benefits you may be entitled to. There are also sections that allow you to declare any other income or savings so that they can be taken into account when calculating your entitlement.
If there's someone else who knows all of this information, they can complete the form on your behalf - but only if they have authority to act on your behalf.
What happens if you're in a same-sex relationship?
The rules for the state pension are changing, and if you're in a same-sex relationship, you may be affected. If you're not in a relationship, you may still be able to get a state pension, but it will be based on your own National Insurance contributions.
If you're in a civil partnership or married to someone of the same sex, you'll now get the same state pension as people in opposite-sex relationships. This change came into effect from April 2016. So if you're thinking about retirement, it's important to understand how these changes might affect you.
Can you still claim your State Pension early?
The state pension is a government-run scheme designed to provide an income for retirees. You can claim your state pension from the age of 60, but if you retire early, you may not get the full amount.
The amount you receive depends on how much National Insurance you have paid over your working life. You can claim your state pension even if you have never worked, as long as you are married to someone who has.
However, this is only available to women; men must work and pay National Insurance contributions before they can qualify.
Your payment will depend on how many years you've been paying in; the more years you pay in, the higher your monthly allowance will be when you finally stop work.
State Pension Conclusion
The State Pension is a regular payment made by the government to people who have reached state pension age. It is designed to provide a basic level of income in retirement. The amount you receive depends on how much National Insurance you have paid over your working life.
The current full state pension is £175 per week. You may get less if you have not paid enough National Insurance, or if you have started receiving your pension before April 2016.
From 2023 the state pension is likely to exceed £10,000 per year because inflation is now running at 10% PA.