Retirement expert urges people of all ages to check online State Pension status to ensure full pay from DWP

Retirement experts are urging people not to miss out on the chance to increase their State Pension payments in later life, especially if they are approaching 66 before next April. Last week, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched a new online service which makes it easier to track your State Pension pot.

The ‘Check your State Pension forecast’ service allows people under State Pension age to view gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record and pay voluntary contributions to fill those gaps, if it will benefit them. The service will show people how much their State Pension could increase by and details of the voluntary NI contributions they would need to pay to achieve this.

People can use the service to choose which years they would like to pay to fill. They can then pay securely through the service and will receive confirmation that their payment has been received and that their NI record will be updated.

Mike Ambery, Retirement Savings Director at Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group said: “We welcome the launch of the Government’s new online NI contribution checking service and encourage everyone to check their contribution status, and to get a State Pension forecast, as the payment is a vital source of income in retirement for millions.”

However he warned that “many people are unaware that to receive the maximum payment they’ll need 35 years National Insurance contributions” but added that until April 2025 voluntary backdated contributions can be made for any missing years going back as far as 2006, after which the contributions can only be backdated for the previous six years.

He continued: “Paying voluntary National Insurance contributions could make a massive difference to people’s futures. Based on the 2024/25 rates, buying a full National Insurance year could boost the new State Pension by £303 a year.

“Someone starting to claim at 66 and living for another 20 years could see their State Pension increase by around £6,060 as a result of making the additional payment.

“However, it’s very important people consider their own situations, as there could be many reasons why voluntary National Insurance contributions might not suit people’s circumstances, such as if they have sufficient time to make up the required number of years. The new online service should help people quickly and easily see if it’s the right decision to make.”

People who are eligible have until April 5 2025 to pay voluntary contributions to make up gaps in their NI record between April 6 2006 and April 5 2018.

From April 6 2025, people will only be able to pay voluntary contributions for the previous six tax years, in line with normal time limits.

Paying voluntary contributions will not always increase someone’s State Pension but people can use the new service to help weigh up whether they could be better off in retirement before making any voluntary NI payments.

Some people may be eligible for National Insurance credits, rather than needing to pay voluntary contributions.

People will need to log in to the new digital service using their personal tax account login details. Those without an online HMRC account can register on GOV.UK.

Who cannot use the new online service?

The new digital service is not currently available to:

  • People who are already receiving their State Pension

  • People who are self-employed

  • People living outside the UK with gaps incurred while working abroad

Find out more about the online State Pension forecast service on the GOV.UK here.