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Claiming your UK State Pension

Have you been keeping an eye on the newspapers? Our Pensions team have been hard at work fielding queries from a number of UK immigrants, returned Aussie expats and others who have worked in the UK previously – all looking to top up their UK State Pension and set themselves up for an even more comfortable retirement. Here are a few things to look for to see if you qualify, and then what to organise before you take the next step.

Do I qualify?

The UK State pension is available to people who have worked in Britain or Northern Ireland for at least three consecutive years, and have not yet reached the official UK retirement age. It is worth noting that the Pension is available regardless of whether you were a citizen or a visitor when you worked in the UK. The UK State Pension introduced on April 6, 2016 covers men born after the 1951/52 UK tax year started, and women born after the 1953/54 UK tax year started (April 6 on these respective years). You need to have made 35 years of National Insurance contributions to qualify for the full State Pension, but can receive a portion of it if they have paid the minimum 10 years’ worth of contributions. This is then paid in retirement as a percentage of the full 35 years of contributions – for example if you paid the equivalent of 15 years National Insurance contributions, you’ll receive 15/35th of the full pension. On April 6 2019, the full pension will rise to £168.10 per week.

What rate do I qualify for?

You may have heard in the media that the Class 2 rates for top-ups will be abolished at the turn of the next UK tax year. Due to Brexit, this has taken a back seat for now, so these cheaper rates are still in play. In order to determine which rate (Class 2 or Class 3) you are eligible to use, the following applies:

Class 2 Rates: Living and working abroad currently (i.e. are employed in Australia at the present moment; worked in the UK immediately before leaving there; previously lived in the UK for 3 years in a row; and paid 3 years of contributions.

Class 3 Rates: Living abroad but not working; lived and worked in the UK for 3 years and paid 3 years of NI contributions (at some point).

N.B. if you fall short of the 3 year rule, you will not be eligible to top up at all.

What do I need to apply?

If you think you may be eligible, next step is to track down your National Insurance (NI) number. This will be crucial in making extra contributions and starting the whole top-up and claim process – basically you won’t get very far without it! If you’re not sure what yours is and you can’t find it in your own records, call Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on +44 191 203 7010. They will verify you over the phone and then send your NI number out to you in writing. Once you have your NI number, establish how long you worked in the UK (using the tips in the previous section), and then call our Pensions Team to see how we can help you top up and eventually start claiming the UK State Pension.

Being able to claim the UK State Pension later in life can be an excellent boost to your post-retirement income. If you have any further queries in relation to your eligibility, costs, or anything else regarding the UK Pension, get in touch with our UK Pension Transfer specialists on 08 9301 2200 or via our website.

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