Employees and companies in the United Kingdom pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to fund government social welfare programs such as state pensions. Unless you are a UK resident or a UK expat living abroad, you must make national insurance contributions to be eligible for a full state pension when you retire. You must have a total of 35 years of NI contributions to be eligible; otherwise, you will not be able to get any benefits from the state pension.
The contribution scenarios may change if you are an expat living outside the UK than if you work in the UK. Furthermore, as an expat, your present residency may pose several concerns, such as how long you should pay national insurance contributions.
Several questions may arise, such as, “Can you delay payment of missing national insurance contributions?” In what circumstances should you continue to pay the gap in national insurance contributions? How will the gap in national insurance contributions be filled? Should you top up any missed national insurance contributions if you are a non-UK resident living in another country?
To clarify why you might have missed contributions, you are living overseas as an expat, and you may not have been in the UK and paid your total national insurance contributions.
An individual must have paid or been credited with 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions to receive the full Basic State Pension. To be eligible for the entire New State Pension, a person must have paid or been credited with at least 35 years of NI payments. These years of contributions, also known as ‘Qualifying years,’ are practically the same and may be interchanged if both words are used.
So, for example, if a person has lived in the UK for 20 years, they will not be eligible for the entire state pension until they complete the remaining 15 years.
So, all of our clients ask us, “Is it worth it?” Should I top up or not? Will I make more money if I do this instead of throwing money out the window with the UK government? Therefore, the first step everyone should take is to examine their national insurance contributions record.
Watch an explanation by our CEO and Independent Financial Advisor, Dominic James Murray, about top-up your missing National Insurance Contributions in one of our YouTube videos below.
How to Check National Insurance Contributions for State Pension?
Just before your 16th birthday, you should receive a National Insurance Number (NINO). The government utilizes child benefit claim records to identify minors nearing their 16th birthdate.
Before you begin checking your NI statement online at the Tax Service website, you must first verify your approved user ID and password. If you do not already have a user ID, you can generate one when you check your record.
You activate your tax account when you sign in to the ‘Check your National Insurance record’ service. Your National Insurance record will contain information on the NI contributions and the NI credits you’ve received. If you discover gaps in your contribution or credit, you may be required to make up the lost years, or your years would be considered non-qualifying. However, the amount of funds you may get from the State Pension is not included in your NI record.
An alternate way to access your NI record is to request a printed National Insurance statement online or by phone. You must choose which years you want your statement to include. Reports for the current or previous tax year cannot be requested. You can also mail to Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC) at the following address: National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AN.
Should You Top Up Missed National Insurance Contributions?
In aspects of the situation, it can be beneficial to top up such years because you may get more money back in retirement. For example, if you’re a couple of years short of a full pension, you may as well top-up. From a simple calculation perspective, the top-ups you make now will get you more money back in retirement, so currently speaking, each week of missed national insurance contributions will cost you £15.40.
As previously stated, it would be advantageous for you to do so; however, it is not quite as simple. You must make the decision based on your circumstances. For example, if you don’t have many other pension assets and will be relying on that pension from the UK government to survive in retirement, we advise you to complete missed contributions.
However, if you are still in your twenties and working outside of the UK, there are a few things to consider. The first question is whether you genuinely need the State Pension as your sole source of income when you retire. If you believe you have another pension scheme or can still rely on your assets for retirement, you can consider not making up missed NI contributions.
On the other hand, the aging population may risk the UK government’s capacity to provide the benefit of the State Pension in the next twenty to fifty years.
Learn more about your National Contributions or UK Pension Transfer with one of our Independent Financial Advisor through the link on the right side. Your initial consultation is always free with Cameron James.