Nearly everyone in the UK will qualify for some state pension when they reach the UK state pension age. If you will reach state pension age before 6 April 2016, this may include a basic pension, some additional pension (State Second Pension, S2P, and/or State Earnings Related Pension, SERPS) and possibly some Graduated Pension from an earlier state scheme. If you'll reach the state pension age after that date, you are likely to get a flat-rate state pension and possibly some 'protected pension' built up under the current system.
You build up your entitlement to state pension by paying National Insurance contributions while you are working, or by being credited with National Insurance contributions during periods when you can't work.
Under current rules, you may also be entitled to use the National Insurance contributions of a former or deceased husband, wife or civil partner to help you claim extra state pension. This is due to stop from 6 April 2016.
The state pension system is complicated and it is hard to work out how much you personally might be on track to get. But you don't need to do the sums yourself.
The government keeps a record of your National Insurance contributions and credits and relevant personal circumstances and you can order a state pension statement. Based on your record, the statement sets out how much state pension you have built up so far.
Some of these schemes issue a 'combined pension statement' each year. In addition to an estimate of the pension you might get from the occupational or personal scheme, a combined pension statement also shows a statement of your state pension.
On a combined pension statement, the estimate of your state pension has been supplied by the government and is based on your National Insurance record. Some other pension statements give an indication of the full basic state pension that anyone might get that is not based on your personal record. If you are unsure what sort of statement you have, ask your HR department or pension provider.
If you have a combined pension statement, you do not need a state pension statement as well.
You can apply for a statement by phone, post or online. Whichever route you choose, you will need the following information:
- Your National Insurance number. If you want to see if using the contribution record of a former or deceased husband, wife or civil partner would boost your pension, you will also need their National Insurance number. (Don't worry if you are divorced - your former spouse or partner will not be contacted.)
- The type of National Insurance contributions you are paying. If you are self-employed, these will be Class 2 contributions. If you are an employee, these will be Class 1 contributions, but there are different types so you may need to ask your employer for help deciding which type applies to you.
- Whether you are married.
- Whether you have spent any periods working abroad.
- Your current earnings if you are an employee.
To apply for a statement by phone, call 0845 3000 168. To apply by post, download form BR19 from Gov.UK and send the completed form to: Future Pension Centre, Tyneview Park, Whitley Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE98 1BA. In either case, your statement will be sent to you by post and should take around ten days from the time your form is received.
To get an online statement, you will first need to register with the Government Gateway. On the Gov.UK click on the link 'How to apply'. This will take you through a series of screens that let you register if you are a new user or go ahead with your forecast application if you are already registered.
If you are a new user, to register you will need to give your National Insurance number, postcode and date of birth. You will be sent an activation code by post, which should take no more than seven days. Once you have this code, return to the site and follow the instructions to obtain your online state pension statement.
Changes on the way
Some people will benefit from the change but others will be lose out. Unfortunately the state pension statement doesn't yet show how your pension may be affected by these changes. You can read more about the changes in our guide on the changes to state pensions.
Other guides which might interest you
- Understanding your state pension forecast
- How much state pension will you get?
- Understanding your employer's pension statement