UK taxpayers now have almost two years to boost their pensions by potentially thousands of pounds after the government extended the deadline for extra contributions.
Those who are eligible now have until 5 April 2025 to fill gaps in their national insurance record from April 2006 that may increase their state pension.
The previous deadline of 31 July had been criticised as people had been unable to get through to the official advice line to find out if they were eligible.
Last week, consumer commentator Martin Lewis had urged Britons to urgently check if they could potentially boost their pensions, and had offered to help people "navigate" the blocked phone lines in a programme dedicated to the issue on Tuesday evening.
He tweeted on Monday about the extension: "I suspect it isn't a coincidence that this announcement comes the day before my [ITV] special on it, with the pensions minister coming on, knowing I was going to go hard about people having to call the Future Pensions Service 100s times before they get an answer.
"Overall though the extension is very good news, for full help watch the show tomorrow 8pm..."
Lewis will host the first of a two-part special on Tuesday to support people through the current cost of living crisis.
Important: The deadline for buying missing National Insurance years for your state pension back to 2006 has just been extended again to April 2025 (was July 23)
I suspect it isn't a coincidence that this announement comes the day before my @itvMlshow special on it, with the…
— Martin Lewis (@MartinSLewis) June 12, 2023
Last week he told followers: "[This] is urgent for anyone age 45-70 as its the last chance to boost your state pension by £10,000s (and yes I'll be talking about how to navigate the phone lines too) plus lots more pensions help."
Pensions deadline extended
The government's voluntary national insurance (NI) contributions deadline is now 5 April 2025. Prior to this date UK taxpayers can fill gaps in their NI record to help increase the amount they receive in state pension when they qualify.
This means taxpayers with incomplete years in their NI record could be financially better off in their retirement if they make voluntary payments to top up any incomplete or missing years.
Each year represents 1/35 of the full state pension, and one year's additional top-up alone could boost your weekly income by £5.82 a week or £302.64 a year (based on the 2023/24 state pension).
Laura Trott, minister for pensions at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: "I am pleased to see so many people taking steps to review their state pension, which is why we have extended the deadline for customers to add extra years to their national insurance record.
"This extension means thousands more people will have time to check their entitlement, and in many cases increase the amount they receive when they retire."
Read more: How to avoid an inheritance tax bill
Writing for Yahoo Finance in March, personal finance expert Sarah Coles said: "The opportunity to boost your pension comes from some of the rules put in place when we moved from the old state pension system to a new flat rate scheme in 2016.
"As a general rule, in order to qualify for a full state pension, you usually need to have paid enough national insurance every year for 35 years. This is higher than the 30 years you needed under the old state pension arrangements, so when the change was made, it also introduced a window during which you could buy more extra years.
She added: "Before you do anything else, it’s worth finding out where you stand."
How can you boost your pension?
There are three main ways you can increase the amount you receive in your state pension – by claiming free NI credits, buying extra years, or deferring how soon you begin claiming it.
The deadline for claiming credits or buying extra years is 5 April 2025 and this can be done on the gov.uk website.
Lewis has advised everyone considering claiming credits to contact the government's free Future Pension Centre on 0800 7310175 for bespoke calculations on whether it is worth doing.
Coles wrote: "Before you part with any cash, you need to contact the government’s Future Pension Centre go through your specific circumstances and do the calculations.
"The rules are fiendishly complicated and there’s all sorts of small print, so you need to speak to someone to check it’s right for you."
Prior to the extension, many had posted their frustrations on social media to complain they could not get through on the phone number provided by the government.
The extension is expected to enable people to get through and check before the new deadline.
How to check if you are eligible
Taxpayers can find out how to check their National Insurance record and obtain a state pension forecast on the official government website, in order to decide if making a voluntary NI contribution is worthwhile for them and their pension.
They can also check their National Insurance record via the HMRC app or their Personal Tax Account.
Lewis previously advised: "Before you go and buy any [credits] it is very important you check whether you are due free credits.
"For example, if you were a carer, you had childcare responsibilities or an illness. You can go and check via the national insurance credits section of Gov.uk and you may get those years back without having to pay for it."
The Martin Lewis Money Show will air on ITV1 at 8pm on Tuesday.