I boosted my pension by £31k after 30 minute check – can you get extra cash?
25th May 2022

A MARTIN Lewis fan has boosted her pension by £31,000 after a simple check – and we explain how you can get extra cash.

The fan, called Zoe, said she did so by claiming national insurance credits and paying to top up the rest.

It takes 35 years of National Insurance contributions to get the full amount of state pension and you can pay for gaps in your record.

These gaps can also be made up by claiming credits – but thousands are missing out.

Zoe said she checked her pension and realised she had missed six years of national insurance payments, after reading Martin Lewis' newsletter last week.

"Found I'm entitled to claim national insurance credits for 4 years and pay to top up others," she explained.

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You could be entitled to a pension top-up

"This means for about £975 and 30 minutes of my time, I'll receive an extra £31,000 in pension payments if I live for the average 20 years after retirement. "

Until 5 April 2023, workers looking to top up their payments can go back so far as 16 years in the past, which is particularly useful for those near state pension age.

You can check how many years of NI payments you've made and see any missing years on the government website.

Though before making voluntary contributions, you need to get a pension forecast and speak to the Government's Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175.

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The body will be able to tell you whether it's worth you paying for extra qualifying years, as it may not be beneficial for everyone.

How much will it cost to fill the gaps and is it worth it?

Earning back the years isn't free so your voluntary contributions do come at a price.

It works out to be worth £15.85 a week which means it costs £824.20 to buy one year of contributions.

This will add £275 to your state pension every year.

A man living the typical 19 more years and a woman living 21 more years after they reach the state pension age of 66 can expect to get £5,300 and £5,800 respectively.

Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert claims it will take just three years after getting your pension to break even.

But of course, there are risks – if you happened to die before the three years are up then you will have wasted the money, the savings experts explained. 

Am I eligible to claim National Insurance credits for gaps?

National Insurance credits are a way of maintaining your National Insurance record when you are not making National Insurance contributions. 

They help to build up qualifying years over time, which you can use to make you eligible for basic state pension and other benefits.

Those most likely to be affected are carers, couples and higher earners.

You can check the full list of who's eligible for claiming credits on the government website.

It explains the circumstances where you'll need to claim and when you'll get it automatically.

You'll either need to apply online or have to contact your local Job Centre to receive the credits.

Changes to pensions were introduced in April and they could affect how much you have in your pocket – here are the new rules.

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Meanwhile, a grandmother has lost £800 a year in state pension payments because of a child benefit loophole and it could leave other grandparents missing out too.

Besides topping up missing NI payments, we explain other ways you can boost your state pension by up to £700 a year.

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