As many as 90,000 people could be missing out on a perk to boost their pension pot by hundreds of pounds a year.
Any relative looking after a child in order to allow a parent to return to work may be entitled to a National Insurance Credit (NIC) that tops up their State Pension. These NICs can be worth up to £230 a year.
Insurance firm Royal London said 90% of those eligible – in the main grandparents – were failing to claim the perk, known as Adult Specified Childcare Credit.
In the year to the end of September 2017, only 9,486 people claimed the credits, a Freedom of Information request submitted by Royal London revealed.
While this number is a significant increase on the 1,300 claimants in 2016, Steve Webb, policy director at Royal London, believes up to 100,000 relatives could be eligible.
“It is right and proper that when grandparents sacrifice their own working life to help a family member get back to work, they should not also damage their own state pension prospects,” he said.
“This National Insurance credit is a valuable right and it is good news that the numbers claiming have risen so dramatically in such a short space of time.
“But we believe that there are tens of thousands more grandparents who could be entitled to benefit and would encourage more of them to find out about the scheme and to make a claim.”
Under the rules, any family member who looks after a child under 12 can make a claim, if the child’s main carer or parent is working.
The way the system works is that the person receiving child benefit for the child (usually the mother) signs over the National Insurance credit that she receives as a child benefit recipient to the grandparent.
The mother does not need the credit herself because she is back at work and paying NI Contributions in her own right.
Anyone interested in applying for NICs can do so here.