Martin Lewis urges people to check for £5,400 State Pension income top-up before deadline next year

Nearly 10 million people across the UK are receiving New State Pension payments of up to £221.20 each week, equivalent to £884.80 per four-weekly pay period. However, Martin Lewis is urging all 9.7m New State Pension claimants to make sure they are receiving the maximum amount and if not, the consumer champion has shared some simple checks that could boost retirement income by more than £5,000.

Writing in the latest issue on the MoneySavingExpert newsletter (, the financial guru explained this is something everyone under 73 should check, explaining that “while ‘boosting your State Pension' doesn't sound sexy, it's the most lucrative thing many can do with their money”.

It’s important to be aware that his steps will only apply to those claiming, or due to claim the New State Pension in the future - men born after April 5, 1951 and women after April 5, 1953.

However, many people approaching retirement age may not be aware that to receive the full New State Pension, they will need around 35 years’ worth of National Insurance (NI) contributions.

This is just an average number of years as some people may have been ‘contracted out’ and will need more NI contributions to qualify for the full amount - find out more about this on GOV.UK here.

Martin explained qualifying years usually come from employment, looking after children and claiming Child Benefit, or through some DWP benefits. But he warned that “many are missing past NI years, commonly due to years abroad, low incomes, career breaks or not claiming credits”.

He said there are two crucial checks everyone should complete, which don’t take long, and could identify possible gaps in your State Pension.

Check 1: Check your NI record

Martin explained how missing NI years, or partial years, can bring State Pension payments down. A quick check on GOV.UK will identify any missing years - you can do that here.

Check 2: Check your State Pension forecast

You can check your State Pension entitlement on the ‘Check your State Pension forecast’ page on the GOV.UK website here.

This will also tell you your State Pension age - when you can officially retire and start collecting payments.

If you do these two checks and are on track for the full, New State Pension, you don’t need to do anything more. If you do have missing years, now you can check if there are ways to boost it for free.

The three main ways to boost State Pension for free are:

  • Child Benefit - check for missing NI credit.

  • Grandparents providing childcare - Martin explained: “If a family member looked after a child under-12 at any time since 2011, before they were State Pension age (even if they are now) as parents/guardians were working, then the parent can apply to transfer their child care credit to the family member.”

  • Carer's Credit - this is a free NI credit for those aged 16 to State Pension age who provide unpaid care

Martin Lewis
The consumer champion shares simple steps people on or due to receive the New State Pension can take to boost retirement payments. -Credit:ITV

If you are unable to claim free NI credits from 2006 to 2018 Martin warns you’ll need to decide before April 5, 2025 whether it’s worth your while buying missing years.

This is because from that date you will only be able to claim from 2018, but your current age plays a key factor in that decision.

Martin has explained them all in detail on here, but in general:

  • At or near State Pension age - Martin says it’s “no-brainer” if you have missing years and can buy the NI credits as the upfront investment will pay for itself during retirement.

  • Aged 45 to 60 - Martin said: “Less definite as you may still naturally fill the gaps. The younger you are, the more time you have to earn enough qualifying years before you reach State Pension age.”

  • Under 45 - Not usually worth it as you have plenty of time before State Pension age to build up NI years.

He also said it’s worth remembering that everyone needs at least 10 years’ worth of NI credit to qualify for any State Pension payment.

Buying missing NI years

If you can spare the cash, you can plug gaps in your NI record by buying voluntary class 3 NI contributions. Buying a full extra year costs around £800, though partial years will be cheaper. For each year bought you get 1/35th of a year’s State Pension - around £329. This means you effectively earn your money back in around three years, so it can prove very good value.

It is, however, really important to check that it is worth your while paying for these credits so always check with DWP before doing so.

Find out more about plugging gaps in your National Insurance record on GOV.UK here.

Martin explained that the most that you will pay for a missing year is £824, but it could boost your retirement income by over £5,400. There’s a really handy cost guide on here.

Get advice before making a decision

Calculating whether to top up can be confusing and ultimately there is no point paying for more years than you need because you won’t get that money back.

The best solution is to call the UK Government’s Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175 to double check how many years you can buy and whether voluntary contributions will add to your State Pension. Those who have already reached retirement age must contact the Pension Service on 0800 731 0469.