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People urged to check whether they can boost their state pension prospects

By Vicky Shaw, Press Association Personal Finance Correspondent
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People urged to check whether they can boost their state pension prospects

Those who have stopped work before state pension age may be able to increase the size of their pot by paying top-ups, Royal London has said.

People who have stopped work before reaching state pension age are being urged to check whether they could top up their retirement pot at “heavily-subsidised” rates.

Royal London said now that the financial year 2017-18 is complete, people can top up their national insurance (NI) records for that year if they do not already have a qualifying year towards their state pension.

The new state pension was introduced in April 2016 and covers people reaching state pension age from then on. Under the new system, people generally need 35 qualifying years to get the full new state pension.

People might have built up a qualifying year if they have, for example, made sufficient national insurance contributions or been entitled to national insurance credits.

Those who are set to be short of the full state pension can potentially top it up by making voluntary contributions.

Royal London said someone making voluntary contributions for the year 2017-18 may potentially find they get more back than they paid in after drawing their state pension for just four years.

The mutual insurer has produced a free updated guide to topping up state pension records at royallondon.com/goodwithyourmoney.

A previous edition of the guide was downloaded more than 70,000 times.

In some exceptional cases it may not be worth paying voluntary contributions, for example if people expect to be receiving certain benefits, Royal London said. This issue is also covered in the guide.

Meanwhile, people can check their state pension entitlements on the government website at gov.uk/check-state-pension.

Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister who is now director of policy at Royal London, said: “Many hundreds of thousands of people who are not going to get a full state pension of £164.35 (per week) could boost their pension prospects by paying heavily-subsidised voluntary NI contributions.

“Now that 2017-18 is over, it is time for those who did not build up a qualifying year towards their pension to review whether to pay voluntary contributions for that year.

“This will be particularly relevant to people who in the past were in pension schemes which were contracted out of part of the state pension system and who will not otherwise get a full state pension as a result.

“I hope that our new guide will steer people through the complexities of whether and how to do this.”