Not everyone receives the same State Pension – find out what you might be entitled to and when

7 min read 22 May 23

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There’s been an increased focus on changes to the State Pension age in the media recently. But the age at which you’ll be eligible to claim isn’t the only factor – the amount you receive depends on other personal circumstances, too. In this article, we look at what you might be entitled to receive, and when.

Your State Pension age is the earliest age that you can start to claim your State Pension. You don’t have to take it then, you can start claiming it at any time after this age.

As at May 2023, the current State Pension age is 66 years old for both men and women, but the government plans to gradually increase this from 66 to 67 between April 2026 and April 2028 and from 67 to 68 between April 2044 and 2046. It’s worth noting that if you have a personal or workplace pension you can usually access this from age 55, as it’s not the same as the State Pension.

The government keeps the State Pension age under review, so it could change in the future. You can check your State Pension age using this calculator.

If you’re working or have worked in the past, it’s likely that you’ll have paid National Insurance (NI) contributions. These NI contributions are used to fund the State Pension and certain other benefits.

Once you reach State Pension age, you need to have enough National Insurance qualifying years to be able to claim it. A qualifying year is counted where one or more of the following happened:

  • You worked and paid National Insurance
  • You got National Insurance credits (e.g. if you were unemployed, sick or a parent or carer)
  • You paid voluntary National Insurance contributions

To be entitled to any State Pension, you’ll usually need at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record (they don’t have to be 10 years in a row, it can be 10 or more across your whole working life). The more years you have on your record, the more State Pension you may be entitled to.

You can find out how many qualifying years you have by checking your National Insurance record using this calculator. If you have any gaps in your record, you may be able to make voluntary National Insurance contributions to resolve this. You can usually only pay for gaps from the past six years and you can check if you’re eligible on

It’s a common misconception that everyone will be entitled to a State Pension, but this isn’t always the case. The State Pension is built-up from National Insurance contributions – and in simple terms, you need to have paid enough into the ‘pot’ (or been exempt for specific reasons) to qualify.

The level of State Pension you’ll be entitled to will depend on your National Insurance record and you can find a forecast of your State Pension online, via the government’s website.

You’ll need to sign up for a Government Gateway ID, if you don’t already have one, to access your State Pension forecast – this service is free to use and can be accessed on

Yes – there’s no longer a set ‘retirement date’ and your employer can’t force you to retire at a certain age. So even when you reach State Pension age you can continue to work, if you choose to.

If you continue to work beyond State Pension age and you’re an employee, you’ll no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions (there’s slightly different rules if you’re self-employed). However, you’ll still pay income tax if your earnings (including your State Pension and any other pensions you may receive) are above your tax-free allowances. You can find out more about National Insurance and tax after you reach State Pension age at

Please note, the information included in this article is based on our understanding of current taxation, legislation and HM Revenue and Customs practice. This could change in the future and your tax position depends on your own circumstances.

If you’re concerned about the impact of the State Pension age changing on your retirement plans, or just want to find out more about how to prepare for a comfortable retirement, that’s where an adviser can help. If you don’t have an adviser, you can find one in your local area.

You can also access all the resources we’ve referred to in this article online, using the links included or by searching for ‘State Pension’ on

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