UK State Pension – Everything You Have Ever Wanted To Know

If you’re in your 60’s and thinking about retirement, you’re probably like many people wondering how much your state pension is worth and when you’re going to receive it. The good news, if you have worked and paid your national insurance contributions for a minimum of 10 years, you’ll get something. The rest depends on your financial situation, however, it’s a complicated system, so understanding what you’re entitled to is important.

The most important thing to remember is that your state pension will likely not solely pay for your retirement. It will play a part, but you’ll need to boost it with your savings. Today a full state pension is worth, for 2022/23 £185.15 per week for the New State Pension (for those reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016) – up from £179.60 in 2021/22. This totals £9,627.80 per year.

According to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, to live a moderate retirement as a couple, which includes a £74 a week food allowance, a three year old car replaced every ten years and a two week holiday in Europe and a long weekend in the UK every year, you’re going to need to a pension income of £30,600. Let’s assume you have one and a half pensions for you and your wife, meaning that you have a income of £14,440, meaning that you’re £16,160 short or in financial terms require you to have a private pension pot of about £400,000, using the 4% rule.

This state pension guide has been written to help you understand how much you’ll get, when it will be available, and whether you might be able to increase it.

State Pension

In the UK, the state pension was introduced in 1908, known as the Old Age Pension. It gave those aged 70 and above five shillings or 25p a week, or if you were married, a higher pension of seven shillings or 62.5p. When it was first paid in 1909, only one in four people reached the age of 70 and life expectancy was about 40 years.

Over the last century, it has been developed into its current system. As it stands today, there are two UK state pension systems depending upon when you were applicable for retirement. Under the old system known as the Old Age Pension and applicable for those that retired pre-April 2016, you’re entitled to a max basic state pension of £137.60 a week, although it’s possible to get a top-up called an “additional state pension”.

In the current system, for those that retired on or post the 6th April 2016, you can currently get a maximum state pension £185.15 a week.

What Age Can I Claim a State Pension

The age you can start claiming your state pension solely depends on your date of birth. In 1908, it was 70 years old, however, under the old-age pension scheme, it’s 65 for men and women at 60.

The problem with state pensions is that it’s very expensive. This combined with increasing life expectancy, means that pension age has risen recently and will carry on increasing over the years to come. In April 2020, the Government raised the retirement age to 66 for both men and women. It is set to increase it further to 67 by 2029 and further still, to 68 due between 2037 and 2039.

Do I Qualify for A State Pension?

With the Old Aged Pension, as long as you had 30 years of National Insurance Contributions, you qualified for the “Basic State Pension”, which is currently £137.60 a week. It was possible to increase this figure, however it depended on your level of National Insurance Contributions.

You are entitled to this pension scheme as long as you have a minimum of 10 years of National Insurance Contributions to receive a basic amount. In this case, you’ll get 10/35ths of the total, i.e. £185.15 in 2022/23 which is about £53 a week.

You need 35 “qualifying years” of National Insurance payments to receive the full pension. With the new state pension, its currently worth £185.15 per week (2022/23) totaling £9,627.80 per year.

A “qualifying” year depends on the following criteria;

• Employed and earning over £184 a week, while paying paying National Insurance Contributions

• Employed and earning between £120 and £184 a week (2021/22) from one employer and are treated as having paid National Insurance Contributions

• Self-employed and paying a minimum of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions

• Making voluntary National Insurance contributions

• Receive National Insurance credits

How Much Will I Get?

How much state pension you will get depends on two things, your date of birth, and how many “qualifying” contributions you have made.

Old Age Pension

If you are a man born on or before 5th April 1951 or a woman born on or before 5th April 1953, and remember, it’s the date that you reached State Pension age that’s important, not when you start to claim it, and have 30 years of national insurance contributions, then you’ll be entitled to to a max basic state pension of £137.60 a week. If you have less than 30 years of national insurance “qualiying years” contributions, you’ll still get a pension, but it will be pro-rated for each year that you pay. If you only have 10 years of contribution, you’d get 10/30 of the full State Pension amount for each year of contributions.

New Pension

If you were born a man, on or after 6th April 1951 or a woman on or after 6th April 1953 and therefore will reach State Pension age after 5th April 2016, the new State Pension rules will apply to you. In the current system, the state pension is given £185.15 a week or, £9,627.80 a year for the 2022/23 tax year if you have a full 35 years of national insurance contributions. If you have fewer than 35 years, you will be paid a percentage depending on the number of qualifying years.  

The minimum is ten years, and you’ll be paid 10/35ths of the total – currently £179.60 – which is about £53 a week. If you have less than ten years of contributions, you’ll get nothing. Each year gives 1/35th of the full amount, for example:

• 35 years’ gives 35/35 x £185.15 = £185.15 a week

• 30 years’ gives 30/35 x £185.15 = £158.70 a week

• 10 years’ gives 10/35 x £185.15 = £52.90 a week.

How to Predict My Pension?

The state pension is based on the number of “qualifying years” you have built up during your career. To check yours, head over to and use their State Pension calculator to check your National Insurance Contribution record. 

It’s a straightforward and quick process whereby you need to enter your national insurance number and answer a couple of short questions. Once you understand what you are likely to get based on your working career, you can start planning financially and potentially think about ways to increase your pension plan.

How To Increase Your State Pension

According to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, you need just over £20,000 per year for an individual’s ‘moderate’ retirement. This increases to £34,000 per year for a couple and would allow some flexibility and on top of a few luxuries.

As a consequence, you need to maximize your state pension at every available opportunity and make sure you save into a private or company pension plan at the same time. There are two main ways to increase your pension plan: deferring the start until you’re 70 or later or by buying extra years.


If you defer taking your state pension, you can delay taking any pension payments until later in life. Remember, your state pension will not start being paid automatically. Unless you claim your pension, it will automatically be deferred. An example where this could be a great idea is if you’re still working and don’t need the money.

How much more will you get? This depends on when you reached/will reach state retirement age:

Retiring post-April 2016 – Every year you delay taking your state pension adds a 5.8% increase to your state pension. If you’re entitled to the full £185.15 and defer by one year, you get an extra £10.73 a week (about £558.41 a year). 

Retiring Pre – April 2016 – Every year, your delay is worth the same as that year’s payments plus 10.4%.  

Buy ‘extra’ Pension Years

The second option is to buy any missing National Insurance qualifying years. This is a great option as it could lead to a big increase in your state pension weekly payments over time.  

When you’re buying extra years, you’re buying voluntary class 3 National insurance contributions. The rate is £15.40 (2021/22) per missing week of NI contributions or £800 for a full year. For each, £800 you buy will boost your weekly pension payments by £4.80. 

£4.80 is about £250 per year, so for each year you buyback, you will have it paid off in just over three years. Again it’s back to the life expectancy question; if you only live until you’re 70, it’s probably not worth it, but if you live to your 100, the extra income could lead to a better quality of life.

State Pension Q&A

What Is the New State Pension?

The state pension system has undergone some changes, and the new one ensures a regular payment. The funding comes from the Government accessible to individuals meeting specific conditions. For claiming state pension, you must meet the following terms: 

• A person who is on his/her state pension age 

• Paid his/her national insurance for a minimum of 10 years 

• A male who was born on 6th April 1951 or afterwards

• A female who was born on 6th April 1953 or afterwards

What is The Claiming Method for State Pension?

There are few steps you must complete before you can claim the money. The Government will remind you to claim your state pension when you get to the official age. You can expect to receive a letter two months before hitting the milestone.

The letter clearly describes what you need to do. But in case the letter never reaches you, make a call to the telephone claim line. You can take your problems to them, and they will guide you further. You need to do as they say before making your claim. In terms of making a state pension claim, you can use three methods. And the methods are: 

• Go online and fill up a claim form

• Call on 0800 731 7898

• Visit the Gov.UK website to download the claim form, and after filling it properly, send it to the nearby pension center.

When Will It Be Paid?

Your pension money is paid to your account every four weeks, but which day is determined by your NI number. Some people receive their pension earlier in case the payment day also is a bank holiday. Take a look at the days you get your state pension according to the last two digits of your NI number.

  • 00 to 19 Monday
  • 20 to 39 Tuesday
  • 40 to 59 Wednesday
  • 60 to 79 Thursday
  • 80 to 99 Friday

If you live overseas or used to live out of the UK, things would be a bit different for you. It takes five weeks to get your first state pension amount after hitting the official age. There is a possibility of getting a portion of your first full payment before five weeks. After the first full payment, you would start getting paid every four weeks like everybody. The good thing is, the letter sent to you would explain all of it.  

Is It Possible to Claim State Pension When You Are Still Employed?

Reaching the retirement age does not mean you lose the ability to work. So, many of you might still be working after crossing the official retirement age. And the fact that you are working does not affect claiming state pension.

However, it can increase your taxes as you need to pay tax on your state pension. Money from state pension adds with your income which means paying more tax.  

What Can I Expect If I Live Abroad or Used to Live Abroad?

If you have lived outside the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Gibraltar and Switzerland and not paid National Insurance Contributions, you will not have completed any “qualifying years” and therefore you will not be entitled to a state pension.

If you have lived inside the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Gibraltar and Switzerland, you could be entitled to “qualifying years”. As an example, if you worked in the UK for 10 Years and in an EEA country for 16 years and paid contributions to that country’s state pension, you will meet the minimum qualifying years to get the new State Pension, however your new State Pension amount will only be based on the 7 years of National Insurance contributions you made in the UK.

Should I Defer My State Pension?

This depends on how long you think you will live for. Remember, you cannot pass a state pension to your children or wife. When you die, it’s gone. If deferred for five years at current levels, you’d be missing out on over £46,000 that you could invest elsewhere while you continue working, however, you would get a much higher weekly income. If you died five years later, you would have lost out, however if you lived to 100, the higher income would be useful.

Another point to consider is the amount you get from state benefits such as pension credit, housing benefit and council tax reduction. The higher your state pension, the lower these allowances could be.

If My Husband/Wife Passes Away Can I Inherit Their Pension?

Generally, there is no such thing as a widows pension. Once you pass away, your state pension falls to the state. Where you may be to inherit some of your husband or wife’s state pension is through an additional payment if your late spouse or civil partner had reached the State Pension age, but hadn’t claimed it yet.

What Happens To My State Pension In Divorce?

If you’re getting a divorce, it will be up to the court to decide if you’ll get a ‘pension sharing order as part of your financial settlement with your ex-partner. If the court does decide this, your partner’s State Pension will be reduced, and you will get the additional amount as an extra payment on top of your State Pension.

How much is the State Pension for a Married Couple?

Sadly, the old system of a married person being able to collect up to 60% of their spouse’s basic state pension has been abolished. You will now only be able to collect your own pension payments based on your own national insurance payments.

Do I have to pay tax on my state pension?

Yes, it’s taxable, but you don’t have to pay tax on the first £12,570 (in the 2021/22 tax year). If you have no other income, there will be no tax, as you have not broken this level.

Will My State Pension Payouts Rise With Inflation?

Yes, your payment pension increases each year in line with inflation.

Could I Increase My Pension with Pension Credits?

If you don’t have enough money to buy additional national insurance contributions to get a full state pension, you could try and apply for pension credit. Pension Credit is an income-related benefit for low earners who don’t qualify for the full basic flat rate of £185.60 a week. 

Does Being Self Employed Work Differently?

It’s slightly different. In order to make qualifying national insurance contributions, you need to make a profit above £9,568 (in 2021/22). If you earn below this, any national insurance contributions will not count towards your qualifying contributions for a state pension.

Can I Stop Paying National Insurance Contributions after 35 Years?

Sadly not, you’ll pay National Insurance on any income you make.

If I Have More Than 35 Years of Contributions, Will I Get A Higher Pension?

Sadly not, the max you can get for the current 2021/22 year is a £179.60 pension.

Final Thoughts

Your state pension might not be able to pay for your entire retirement, but it will make a substantial dent in your retirement fund. As such, its worth while understanding how to maximize your UK state pension.

Remember, saving for a retirement fund is not something you will achieve quickly but with a little planning and a lot of commitment, its possible to have a great retirement. is written by David Jacobs who is on a quest to retire early and get out of the rat race. David is a financial expert who lives for early retirement. Follow his journey making money, saving and investing to retire early and get the best out of his retirement.

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