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State Pension top up starts today – is it right for you?

A new government scheme, launched on 12 October, will allow people reaching state pension age before 6 April 2016 to top up the amount of income they receive from the State Pension. 

If you are eligible for the scheme you can increase your State Pension income by up to £25 per week, even if this takes you above the current maximum of £115.95 per week. 

You do this by making voluntary lump sum contributions known as Class 3A National Insurance Contributions.   You have between 12 October 2015 and 5 April 2017 to make the contributions.

We asked two of our colleagues who work with pensions content, Caroline Laws and Teresa Fritz, for an in-depth look at what State Pension top up is all about.

Who is eligible?

If you are entitled to the Basic State Pension and a man born before 6 April 1951 or a woman born before 6 April 1953 you can use the scheme.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you are currently eligible for the full State Pension.

How much does it cost?

Your contribution will depend on your age - rates go down as you get older.

For example, to get an extra £1 per week of State Pension, your lump sum contribution would be:

  • £890 if you’re 65
  • £674 if you’re 75 has a helpful State Pension top up calculator to help you work out the cost of your contribution.

Will topping up affect any of my other benefits?

Any increase in your pension income might affect other benefits you are getting. If you’re already on Pension Credit, for example, you may want to get some advice about whether you’ll be better off by topping up.

If you have private or workplace pensions and are thinking about using your tax free lump sum to make State Pension top ups, it’s best to get advice about how this might affect other things, such as the tax you pay.

Is it worth topping up?

If you feel you need, or will need, more income in retirement and you are eligible for the scheme it’s worth considering.  However, whether or not you top up with depend on your personal circumstances. 

You can talk through your options with the Pensions Advisory Service who run a free pensions helpline.  Contact TPAS on 0300 123 1047.  

But if you want advice about whether or not topping is right for you – speak to a regulated financial adviser.  You will have to pay for the advice but the adviser will tell you how much this is going to be before you are committed. 

You can find a financial adviser through our retirement adviser directory.

How do I top up?

You can apply to top up your State Pension online.

Or, alternatively, you can apply by phone:

Telephone:  0345 600 4270

Textphone:  0300 200 3519

Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm

Saturday 8am to 4pm

You have a 90-day “cooling off” period after you have made any contributions in case you change your mind.

What if I’m not eligible for the scheme?

The amount of State Pension you get depends on the National Insurance (NI) Contributions you’ve made or been credited with throughout your working life.   Currently you need 30 qualifying years of NI contributions or credits to get the current full State Pension of £115.95 per week.   This goes up to 35 years when the new State Pension is introduced in April 2016.

If you think you might have a shortfall in your qualifying years for State Pension but are not eligible for this scheme you may be able to pay voluntary NI contributions. 


If you want more information, you can talk through your options with the Pensions Advisory Service who provide a free pensions helpline on 0300 123 1047. 

However, if you want advice about whether topping up is right for you, speak to a regulated financial adviser.  You can find an adviser through our retirement adviser directory.  

What do you think?

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  • Alan O / 8 November 2015

    Seems like a bad deal to me when will any of these elected governments give ordinary people who have worked all there life's the respect and decent pensions that they deserve.

  • Niall Simpson / 8 November 2015

    An unbelievable con designed by a bunch of idiots. How on earth could it ever be worth it to spend so much for so little return?!

  • Gordon Willbye / 1 November 2015

    I have paid more NI than needed for my pension yet because I am going to retire to the Philippines my pension will never increase. This is not right at all

  • Jacky Banks / 1 November 2015

    I get a married women's pension of £70 per week. If my husband dies before me will I in her it his personal sion and lose mine.

  • Terry Brown` / 18 October 2015

    I looked into this and I would need to invest nearly £21000 to qualify for £25 per week. (age 68). This works out at a repayment rate of just under 6.3% and will after allowing for the tax you will pay on it will take 20 years to recover your money. In the meantime you will lose all rights to that capital and any interest you would have accumulated.. If you die in the meantime that money is lost to the Government, or to the insurance company that will be running the scheme.
    Sorry -- Not for me.