If you’ve found yourself doing a Blondie impression recently, and hanging on the telephone for hours trying to boost your future State Pension, you can relax (for now, anyway).
An under siege (and under-resourced) DWP has bowed to public and media pressure and extended its deadline for workers to significantly boost their state pensions by catching up on historic unpaid NI contributions.
After thousands of people complained about their calls not being answered, and risking losing out on thousands of pounds of future payments, the deadline has now been extended from 5th April 2023 by 16 weeks to July 31 2023.
The generous DWP scheme allows people to plug payment gaps and, for those eligible to benefit, investing in State Pension top-ups can generate a better rate of return than most forms of savings. Someone with ten missing years could pay out a little over £8,000 to fix the gaps and receive a boost of £55,000 in state pension payments over a typical twenty-year retirement (at current rates).
Under normal rules it is only possible to fill gaps in your NI record up to six years after the year in question. After that point, the year becomes a permanent gap in your record and could affect your ability to build up a full state pension. This means that 2016/17 would normally be the oldest year which could be filled in during 2022/23.
The Government had announced that, for a limited period, people were able to go back and fill gaps for any year from 2006/07 onwards. The rush by thousands of people to get this arranged by the original deadline overwhelmed the DWP switchboards: hence the extension.
Victoria Atkins, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We’ve listened to concerned members of the public and have acted. We recognise how important state pensions are for retired individuals, which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their NI record to help bolster their entitlement.”
According to HM Revenue and Customs, thousands of taxpayers with incomplete years in their tax record could be better off in retirement if they made voluntary payments. The first step is to check state pension forecasts at: https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension.
The scheme is most beneficial for those heading towards retirement: if you plan to work for many more years to come, you could end up making more NI contributions than you need to receive a maximum State Pension.
How much can you add to your State Pension?
The current cost of a year’s worth of voluntary Class 3 NI contributions is £824.20, but this one-off lump sum payment can add up to 1/35 of the full rate to your eventual State Pension. At 2022/23 rates, a one-year boost will add around £275 per year to your income (before tax). That means that you should recover your initial outlay in less than four years.
Anyone thinking of topping up their state pension should check with the Future Pension Centre at DWP before making such contributions. This is because there are some situations in which paying historic contributions would not necessarily help boost your state pension: particularly for those short of a full state pension because of extensive periods of “contracting out”.
Further information is at: https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/deadlines