Workers need 35 years of National Insurance credits to qualify for a full state pension, but many fail to meet that limit because they are both in and out of the workforce. This can include people who choose to become stay-at-home parents or full-time caregivers of their loved ones. In addition, recent government plans have been put in place to strip part-time workers of their government retirement benefits if implemented.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, James Andrews, Senior Personal Financial Editor at money.co.uk, explained how much money people are at risk of losing when it comes to their government pensions.
Mr Andrews explained: “Retiring with the loss of one National Insurance Credit costs you just over £275 a year, every year of your life.
“This means that in the lead up to retirement age, it is essential that you make sure that you claim every qualifying year possible. To get a full state pension, you need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions, with people with less than 10 years not getting anything at all.
“The first thing you need to do is decide where you stand – you can do it online here with nothing more than your government portal ID and your password. Once you know where you stand, the good news is that there are several ways to increase your contributions in the period that you prior to retirement.
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The government’s proposal for a ban on exclusive causes could deprive low-income workers of access to the full retirement pot provided by the state.
In practice, the policy will make said clauses unenforceable in employment contracts where the guaranteed weekly income is less than or equal to the minimum income which is currently £123 per week.
However, those who earn less than this limit do not qualify for National Insurance credits.
To get National Insurance credit, workers need to earn £123 a week from a single job. Anyone who earns £120 a week from two jobs at the same time gets nothing.
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On the matter, Andrews said: “It sounds like good news at first – giving part-time workers more flexibility and asking bosses to pay them a certain amount if they want exclusivity – but the reality is people may lose out.
“This change may give people a sense of false security – allowing them to make more money by taking on multiple part-time jobs – but at the cost of a much poorer retirement.”
However, the financial expert noted that there are things people can do to boost their entitlement to state pensions.
He added, “The simplest way to do this is to pay for the lost years. You can make a one-time payment to cover the years lost since 2006 right now.”
Even if you don’t take the money, said Mr. Andrews, making sure you’re enrolled in Child Benefit or Carer’s Allowance means you get your National Insurance credit for that year. If you’re over the state retirement age, there are a few other ways to increase your pension amount your.
“For example, due to problems with the pension system prior to 2016, several thousand older women, widows and divorcees were underpaid and ended up with windfall gains of up to £23,000. If you are in a similar situation it is essential to check and see if you are Worth payout.
“It’s also important to verify that you’re not entitled to any benefits you haven’t already claimed — such as a pension credit, rent assistance, heating costs, council tax cuts, or even a lost annuity benefit from a deceased partner.
“All of this could go towards strengthening your pension funds.”