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How much is the state pension & what age will I get it?

The government provides a state pension to all eligible people once they reach a certain retirement age.

However, you should think of this as a top-up to your other income, as on its own it is usually not enough to live on.

Find out what a state pension is and how much you might be entitled to below.

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What is the state pension?

The UK's new state pension is a guaranteed income for life, paid weekly to everyone who qualifies for it.

Read on to find out how you can qualify, how much you could get and when you can start to claim it.

How many qualifying years do I need for the new state pension?

You are eligible for the state pension provided that you have at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance (NI) record.

A qualifying year means a year in which you earn over the Lower Earnings Limit as salary (dividends don't count). How much you receive will also depend on how many qualifying years you have.

You need at least 35 qualifying years to pocket the full amount.

Do I need to pay NICs to qualify for the state pension?

You don’t actually need to have paid National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to qualify for the state pension, though usually you will.

To build up qualifying years, your salary must be at or over the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £6,396). However, you don’t start paying NICs until you take a salary over the NIC Primary Threshold (currently £12,584).

So if your salary falls between these two figures, you’ll build up qualifying years without paying any NI.

For this reason, some company directors deliberately set their salaries at this low level, and take the rest of their income as dividends.

How much is the state pension?

If you qualify for the full amount of new state pension, you will receive £185.15 per week, or £9,627.80 a year (tax year 2022/23).

From 6 April it is rising more than 10 per cent to £203.85 per week, or £10,600 a year. That's because each year the state pension increases in line with the higher of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent. This is known as the 'triple lock'.

If you have fewer than 35 qualifying years, the amount you receive will be reduced proportionally.

If you reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, you will receive the old state pension instead, which may be a different amount.

When can I start drawing my state pension?

The state pension age is currently 66 for both men and women, but may be different depending on when you were born.

Answering the question ‘When will I get my state pension?’ means working it out from the year (and often the month) in which you were born. You can check your state pension age on the government’s website.

Between April 2026 and April 2028, the state pension age will begin further increases to age 67. It is scheduled to reach 68 by the mid-2040s, but recent reports suggest this could be brought forward 10 years.

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Can I still work and claim state pension?

In a word, yes. You can carry on working and earning once you’ve passed state pension age and begun to draw your pension, but you’ll no longer pay NI after this point.

Just remember that the state pension still counts as income, so could be subject to tax depending on how much other income you continue to earn.

How much can I earn while taking the state pension?

You can earn as much as you like and continue to qualify for the state pension. However, you will pay tax on any income above the personal allowance.

Here's an example. The full new state pension gives you an annual income of £9,627. The personal allowance is £12,500 so you could earn up to £ a year on top of the state pension before having to pay any tax at all.

If you were to earn (for example) £10,000 a year while drawing the state pension, your taxable income would be £6,267 and you’d have a tax bill of £2,873. However, you wouldn’t pay any NI contributions.

If you’re still earning and also drawing the state pension, talk to a financial adviser to make sure you’re not wasting too much of your state pension in tax. It may make sense to scale back your hours or find another solution.

Is there a special state pension for married couples?

There are no longer any special state pension arrangements for married couples.

Each partner in the marriage or civil partnership needs to build up their own state pension through qualifying years, and cannot benefit from their spouse’s state pension (which will cease when that person dies).

If one spouse does not work because they are caring for children aged under 12 and registered for child benefit (even if they don’t receive it) then they can accrue Class 3 NI credits for these years.

These credits will build up qualifying years for the state pension.

Alternatively, anyone who isn’t employed can pay voluntary NI contributions to build up qualifying years.

What happens to my state pension if I move abroad?

If you live abroad or are planning to move abroad and want to claim state pension, you’ll need to contact the International Pension Centre.

You can then arrange for your state pension to be paid directly into a bank account, either located in the UK or in the country where you’re living now. You can choose to be paid every four or 13 weeks.

Should I wait before taking my state pension?

If you choose not to take your state pension from the state pension age, the amount you’re entitled to will gradually rise.

For every nine weeks you defer, you'll receive a 1 per cent uptick. Over the course of a year, the rise comes in at just under 5.8 per cent.

You might choose to do this if you were still working and didn’t want to lose state pension money in tax.

However, this is something to discuss with your financial adviser, as it may still be in your best interests to take the money and bank it (or invest it) even if you don’t need to spend it yet.

Try our Pension Calculator to see how much retirement income you might receive from your private pension and what you can do to boost it.

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About the author
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.