People affected by dementia may also be eligible for retirement benefits. Find out what you could be entitled to.
The Pension Service
If you have reached, or are nearing, State pension age, the DWP Pension Service will contact you and give you a phone number to call for information. Your queries will usually be dealt with over the phone or by post, but the service can arrange for someone to visit you at home if necessary. For more information see ‘Other resources’.
A State pension is paid to people who reach State pension age if they have made sufficient National insurance contributions. It is taxable.
The pension age for men and women is gradually rising so that by 2020 it will be 66. After that it will eventually rise to 68 for everyone.
If you do not have sufficient contributions you may receive a reduced State pension or no pension at all. Under the previous rules, women and widowed people, divorced people, civil partners and same-sex spouses who did not have sufficient contributions of their own were able to claim on the contributions of their partner or former partner. This stopped being possible in April 2016.
You may also qualify for extra pension for a number of reasons. People over 80 who do not qualify for a State pension or full State pension may be eligible for an over-80s pension, which does not depend on National insurance contributions.
You can claim your pension if you are still working. However, if you want to, you can defer your pension and then draw a higher weekly pension when you do claim it later. If you are entitled to a State pension, the Pension Service should contact you about three months before you reach State pension age. If you have not heard from the Service two months before reaching State pension age, contact the State pension claim line.
Once you get the letter, you can put in a claim for your State Pension online or by phoning the State pension claim line.
The new State pension
The new State pension was introduced from April 2016, but only for people who reach State pension age on or after April 2016. If this applies to you, your basic pension will be set at a higher level, but you will need a longer National insurance record of your own, and certain other pension additions will be phased out. Not everyone who became eligible for their State pension after April 2016 will receive the same amount as it depends on National insurance contribution history.
If you were born on or after these dates you must claim the new State pension:
- 6 April 1951 if you’re a man
- 6 April 1953 if you’re a woman.
If you are below State pension age but unable to work, you may be able to protect your State pension rights by getting National insurance contribution credits. These are automatically given to people receiving certain benefits, such as Incapacity benefit, Employment and support allowance and Carer’s allowance. Alternatively, carers who do not receive these benefits may be able to protect their rights through a weekly Carer’s credit to build up their State pension entitlement (see Carer’s allowance).
Gender recognition certificates and the State pension
The date when you become eligible for some benefits and for your State pension depends on your gender. This may lead to confusion or concern for some trans people.
If you are awarded a full Gender Recognition Certificate, you will be legally recognised in your acquired gender from the date of your certificate. Your social security benefits including pensions will be paid on the basis of the gender on your certificate.
This means that your right to any benefit or pension may change. It may also affect National insurance contributions, your tax liability and any benefits and pensions you or your spouse or civil partner receives now or in the future.
Before you apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate it’s a good idea to get further information on how doing so in your circumstances may affect your finances. See the gov.uk website for more information.
State pension rates
Find out the latest state pension rates here.
If you are unable to claim the State pension, or it is not enough for you to live on, you may be entitled to claim other benefits, such as Pension credit. The age at which men and women are eligible to claim Pension credit will increase in line with the changes in the State pension age for women (see ‘State pension’ above).
Pension credit is a means-tested benefit. It has two parts: Guarantee credit and Savings credit.
How much are you entitled to?
Find out the current rates for Guarantee credit and Savings credit.
Guarantee pension credit works by topping up a person’s income if they are on a low income. Savings credit is extra money for people aged 65 and over who have an income level above the basic retirement pension level, or who have savings or investments. No new claims for Savings credit have been taken from April 2016, but people who already receive it will continue to do so.
Some people are entitled to both the Guarantee and Savings credits, while others are entitled to one or the other. People eligible for Pension credit may also qualify for other benefits such as help with housing costs, and NHS costs. You may receive extra amounts in your pension credit guarantee if you are eligible for Carer's allowance, or if you receive other benefits (such as Attendance allowance or Personal independence payments). However this does not happen automatically, so you must make a claim.