I’ve been out of work as a parent or carer. Will I get a State Pension?

Posted on: 25 May 2016 by James Hester

Find out how changes to the State Pension affect carers and parents.

State Pension changes for parents and carers

The new State Pension has been introduced for people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.

The introduction of the new State Pension on 6 April 2016 brings clarity to a system that few people truly understand. The reforms will reduce pensioner means-testing and support personal saving for millions of people.

If you have taken time out from work as a carer or parent you will need to know how these changes could affect your State Pension.

The good news is the changes cut away much of the confusion of the old rules with a new State Pension that is designed to make calculating your State Pension amount clearer in the future.

As a general rule, you’ll need to have 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance (NI) record to get any new State Pension. For most people, this is based on the NI contributions that are deducted from their salary each month. However, if you earn between £112 and £155 a week in 2016/17 you will not pay any NI contributions but will still build qualifying years. Also, in certain circumstances you can claim credits instead of paying contributions to build your NI record. 



NI credits

If you are unable to work, or do not earn enough to pay or be treated as paying contributions, you might be entitled to NI credits.

Credits can help you plug gaps in your NI record and will count towards the State Pension. Credits can be combined with your paid NI contributions to build up a qualifying year for State Pension purposes.

You can get credits to cover a number of different circumstances. Here are five things you can claim credits for::

  1. Spending at least 20 hours a week caring for someone
  2. Performing jury service
  3. Living abroad with a spouse or civil partner in the military
  4. Caring for a child under 12 in your family if you are not the parent
  5. Unemployed and looking for work, but not claiming benefit

In other cases, the credits for the State Pension will be applied automatically and you won’t have to claim them separately. For example, if you are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. 



Your retirement

With people living longer and longer, it’s more important than ever that everyone thinks about their pensions. Remember, your total income in retirement could be made up of your State Pension, as well as your workplace pension and any private savings you may have built up.

The State Pension is an important income that you could be eligible to receive when you reach State Pension age. If you have gaps in your NI record, you can also choose to pay voluntary contributions (time limits apply) to increase your State Pension, as well as applying for any credits you are entitled to.

You can check your eligibility for credits at:

You can find out more about paying voluntary contributions at:


Further Information

Find out more about the State Pension at and

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Phrase of the week

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Week starting Monday 23 May 2016

Qualifying year

A complete tax year during a person’s working life in which they paid, were treated as having paid or were credited with National Insurance contributions on earnings above the weekly ‘Lower Earnings Limit’ (£112 a week in 2016 to 2017).