In what situation can I claim?
Retirement age is not the same as State Pension age which is 65 for a man and between 63 and 65, for a woman depending on when she was born. Anyone can carry on working past State Pension age. You can calculate your State Pension age.
Default retirement age (formerly 65) has been phased out - most people can now work for as long as they want to. You can claim your State Pension even if you carry on working. However, you have the option to defer which can increase the amount you get.
Retirement age is when an employee chooses to retire. Most businesses do not set a compulsory retirement age for their employees.
If an employee chooses to work longer they cannot be discriminated against.
However, some employers can set a compulsory retirement age if they can clearly justify it.
What conditions do I need to meet?
National Insurance itself is compulsory for most people and is usually deducted automatically from your salary. In order to claim the full basic State Pension you will need to have paid sufficient National Insurance for a certain number of years.
Each year that counts towards your State Pension entitlement is called a qualifying year. The number of qualifying years you need to build up to qualify for the full basic State Pension depends on when you will start to claim it.
Any year in which you earn more than £113, or in which you are self-employed and paying National Insurance contributions, counts as a qualifying year.
If you claim your State Pension after 6th April 2016, you will need 35 years of National Insurance contributions - whether you are a man or a woman - to be entitled to the full state pension.
To qualify for a basic State Pension, at least 1 of the following must apply:
- you have been working and paying National Insurance;
- you have been receiving certain benefits, e.g. for unemployment or sickness;
- you have been a parent or carer and claiming certain benefits or credits;
- you have a spouse or civil partner whose National Insurance contributions cover you, or
- you have been paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.
You need 35 years' worth of contributions or credits to get the full basic State Pension. These are your ‘qualifying years’.
If you have fewer than 35 years, your State Pension will be less than the full amount but you might be able to top up by paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.
In some cases, even if you are not working, you can get National Insurance credits that count towards your State Pension.
What am I entitled to and how can I claim?
The maximum basic State Pension is £159.55 a week and this increases every year by whichever of the following is the highest:
- earnings - the average percentage growth in wages (in Great Britain);
- prices - the percentage growth in prices in the UK as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), or
You need to claim the pension; it is not paid automatically. Usually you will receive a letter four months before you reach State Pension age, telling you what to do. If you do not receive this letter, contact the claim line - see “Who do you need to contact” section.
Here are the ways you can claim:
- online State Pension claims;
- over the phone (see the Who do you need to contact section);
- download the State Pension claim form and send it to your local pension centre;
- claim from abroad including the Channel Islands.
Forms you may need to fill in
Find your Pension centre - fill in the online form to find contact information for your pension centre in England, Scotland or Wales. You can contact your pension centre by phone or in writing.
Know your rights
The links below set out your rights in law. They are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:
- Retiring abroad - tax on your State Pension;
- Claiming a spouse or civil partner's pension after they die.
Commission publication and website:
Who do you need to contact?
Transsexual people should contact the gender reassignment team at the Department of Work and Pensions.
State Pension claim line:
Telephone: 0800 731 7898
Textphone: 0800 731 7339 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (except public holidays)
The claims procedure is different if you claim from Northern Ireland.
If you have worked abroad and/or in the UK, contact the International Pension Centre:
International Pension Centre
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 7777 Textphone: +44 (0)191 218 7280 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
The Pension Service 11
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