Millions of over-66s in the UK must act to claim State Pension or risk losing £221.20 weekly

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-Credit: (Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has disclosed that nearly 12.7 million older individuals in the UK are currently supported by the State Pension.

To qualify for this benefit, which is open to those who have reached the State Pension age of 66 for both genders, one must have contributed at least ten years' worth of National Insurance Contributions. However, as many approach retirement age this year, they might not be aware that the DWP does not automatically issue this contributory benefit; it needs to be actively claimed to avoid missing out on potential weekly payments of up to £221.20.

The rationale behind not automatically disbursing funds upon reaching State Pension age is because some individuals choose to defer their claim in order to continue working and boost their pension savings, especially if they haven't made the full 35 years of National Insurance Contributions required or were 'contracted out'.

Offering advice, the DWP states: "You do not get your State Pension automatically - you have to claim it. You should get a letter no later than two months before you reach State Pension age, telling you what to do."

Expanding on the options available, the guidance indicates that individuals can either make a claim for their State Pension or opt to delay (defer) their claim, noting: "If you want to defer, you do not have to do anything. Your pension will automatically be deferred until you claim it.", reports the Daily Record.

If you fail to respond to the letter confirming your intention to start claiming State Pension, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will interpret this as a desire to defer, meaning you won't receive any payments.

Deferring your State Pension could potentially increase your weekly payments when you decide to claim it, provided you defer for at least nine weeks. For every nine weeks you defer, your State Pension increases by the equivalent of 1%, which equates to just under 5.8% for every 52 weeks.

The additional amount is paid alongside your regular State Pension payment. However, it's important to note that any extra payments you receive from deferring could be subject to tax - more information can be found on GOV.UK.

It's also worth noting that deferred State Pensions increase annually in line with the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate and the highest measure of the Triple Lock policy.

New State Pension payment rates 2024/25

  • Full payment rate: £221.20

  • Every four-week pay period: £884.80

Basic State Pension payment rates 2024/25

  • Full payment rate: £221.20

  • Every four-week pay period: £884.80

Your first payment will be made within five weeks of reaching State Pension age, followed by a full payment every four weeks thereafter. You may receive part of a payment before your first full payment.

The letter will provide further details on what to expect. You also have the option to receive your State Pension payments weekly or fortnightly, which would result in a shorter delay for the first payment.

The day your State Pension is paid depends on your National Insurance number.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) calculates a 'starting amount' for your new State Pension based on the last two digits of your National Insurance number and your qualifying years as at 5 April 2016. This 'starting amount' could be less than, more than or equal to the full new State Pension, depending on whether you were contracted out of the Additional State Pension during any periods.

To find out how much State Pension you could receive, you can use the Check your State Pension service online. This provides personalised information, including your State Pension age, an estimate of how much State Pension you may get at that point and if you can increase this amount.

It also allows you to view your National Insurance contribution history. More details about deferring your State Pension can be found on the GOV.UK website.