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How much State Pension will I get if I have never worked?

Written by Retirement Line

Perhaps you have never had a paid job, or have only worked a few years? If so, you may be wondering if you are eligible for State Pension in retirement.

It’s an important issue to explore as the State Pension is the main income for many people in retirement. But try not to worry if you find you are not eligible. As we’ll explain further on, there are other sources of State support available to those who do not qualify.

To help you explore this topic and understand what support you might get in retirement, we have put together the following information:

  • How much is the State Pension?

  • How much State Pension will I get if I have never worked?

  • Can I get the State Pension if I haven’t worked due to ill health, or being a parent or carer?

  • What happens if you are not entitled to a State Pension?

  • I lived and worked abroad for some of my career: will I still get a State Pension?

Remember, this article is not advice but merely a starting point to provide some initial information and help direct you to the correct channels. Please visit gov.uk to check your State Pension forecast and eligibility

How much is the State Pension?

The full new State Pension is currently £221.20 per week, or £11,502 a year for people who have the qualifying years of National Insurance Credits. It is usually paid to you within five weeks of your 66th birthday, though the State Pension age is increasing and will begin to gradually rise to 67 from May 2026.

How much State Pension will I get if I have never worked?

If you have never worked and therefore never paid any National Insurance through your salary, you won’t typically be eligible for any State Pension. 

However, there are circumstances in which you may still get some State Pension if you have never worked. See ‘Can I get the State Pension if I haven’t worked due to ill health or being a carer?’ below.

Also, if you haven’t worked at all, or have worked but not for enough years to qualify for State Pension, you may be able to make voluntary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to make up a shortfall on your record. 

How do I find out how many qualifying years I have for the State Pension?

You can check your National Insurance record at gov.uk to see what you’ve paid. You can also check whether you have received any National Insurance credits, and if any gaps in contributions or credits mean some years do not count towards your State Pension.

Working out your State Pension entitlement

How much State Pension you will receive depends on how many full years of NICs you have, including any voluntary ones you make, and/or how many credits you have.

If you have between 10 and 35 years of qualifying contributions or credits then you’ll receive a proportionate amount of the State Pension.

The rules vary depending on when you built up your NI record. If you are not entitled to the full new State Pension then you can typically work out your proportion by dividing £221.20 by 35 and then multiplying by the number of qualifying years you have.

For example:

35 years = £221.20 a week

30 years = £189.60 a week

10 years = £63.20 a week

If you have not achieved ten years National Insurance Contributions (NICs) during your career - and do not have sufficient credits to plug the gaps  - then you may still qualify for some State Pension.

This can be done by voluntarily topping up your NICs to achieve the extra years you need to plug the shortfall. You can usually only top up any gaps in your National Insurance record from the last six years. However, you may be able to pay for gaps from more than six years ago, depending on your age and eligibility.

For example, if you are a man born after 5 April 1951 or a woman born after 5 April 1953, then you have until 5th April 2025 to pay for your NIC gaps between April 2006 and April 2016.

You might choose to do this if you were:

  • Employed or self-employed but didn’t earn enough to pay ten years of NICs during your career.

  • Unemployed and did not claim state benefits.

  • Living or working outside the UK.

Making voluntary contributions does not automatically increase your State Pension, nor guarantee you a State Pension income. Here are some good sources of help to find out more:

Can I get the State Pension if I haven’t worked due to ill health, or being a parent or carer?

You may qualify for some State Pension if you have never worked due to ill health or disability, or because you have had a role as a parent, or a carer for a loved one.

If eligible, you can get National Insurance Credits to fill gaps in your National Insurance record, even if you have never worked. How many years you have on your National Insurance record will determine how much State Pension you get. If you have ten years or more of National Insurance Credits, then you can apply for the State Pension when you are old enough.

State benefits such as carer’s allowance, maternity allowance or Universal Credit, amongst others, can qualify you for NI Credits. You can check the full list of benefits that qualify you for National Insurance Credits.

You should also receive NI Credits automatically if you are a parent or carer of a child under 12 and claim Child Benefit. If you are registered for Child Benefit you may be able to apply for missing credits. You can find more information and apply for Credits.

What happens if you are not entitled to a State Pension?

If you are State Pension age and not eligible for the full State Pension – or any of it – then you may be entitled to other benefits to top up your income. These benefits include:

Pension Credit. Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to £218.15 if you’re single, or your joint weekly income to £332.95 if you have a partner.

In addition to the cash boost, receiving Pension Credits makes you eligible for a whole host of other benefits too. These include Council Tax reduction, a free TV licence and more. Millions of people are eligible for Pension Credits so make sure you don’t miss out. 

Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit that helps to cover your rent for those of State Pension age on a low income. How much you’ll get depends on a number of factors including your income and savings, who you live with, how much rent you pay and even how many rooms your home has. 

If you get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, you may get your rent paid in full by Housing Benefit.

Attendance Allowance. This supports people of pension age with care needs due to physical or mental disability. You could get £72.65 or £108.55 a week to help with personal support. You don’t need to have someone providing that help, you just need to show that help is needed. 

Over 80 pension. You may be able to claim the Over 80 pension if you are 80+ and do not receive the Basic State Pension, or if the amount you receive is low. The maximum amount the Over 80 pension pays out is £101.55 per week. 

I lived and worked abroad for some of my career, will I still get State Pension?

You can only claim the State Pension if you have paid or been credited with UK National Insurance contributions (NICs) for at least ten years.

If you have less than ten years of NICs, you may be able to use your time spent working abroad to still qualify for some State Pension. The money you receive will be based on the number of years NICs you hold. 

This option is most likely if you have lived or worked in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Gibraltar, Switzerland or certain countries that have a social security agreement with the UK. 

If you’ve lived or worked abroad then you can find out more about your UK State Pension on the GOV.UK website.

It may be that you are eligible for some UK State Pension and some state pension from another country where you lived and worked. To check if you can pay into or receive another country’s state pension, you will need to contact the pension service for that country.

I am retiring abroad

If you have lived and worked in the UK – and paid enough NICs – then you can still claim the new State Pension overseas in most countries.

In addition, your State Pension will increase each year if you live in the EEA, Gibraltar, Switzerland or certain countries that have a social security agreement with the UK. You can get all the information you need on this by contacting the International Pension Centre.

I am a migrant working in the UK

Workers who come to the UK usually need at least ten qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any State Pension. It does not have to be ten years in a row and in some cases you can still qualify for some State Pension if you have less than ten years.

Even if you work here and then retire in another country, you can still claim the State Pension for the qualifying years that you worked in the UK. 

If you have only worked in the UK, Gibraltar, Switzerland other EEA countries then you simply claim your State Pension in the last country where you lived or worked, as your claim will cover all of those countries. This means you will not have to claim for each country separately.

If you have lived and worked in the UK and also paid social security contributions in a country not within the EEA then you will need to claim your pension from each country separately. A good place to start is to check if that country has a social security contributions agreement with the UK.

Please note: the information in this article is based on our understanding at the time of publication. Please seek clarification on your eligibility for State Pension from official authorities.

 

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