Voluntary National Insurance: How to boost your state pension pot

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Peter Komolafe suggests buying National Insurance credits

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The amount of state pension one receives once they hit 66 depends largely on how many ‘qualifying years’ they have. However, these years don’t always have to be worked as they can also be bought through voluntary National Insurance.

A qualifying year is defined as a tax year during which a person has paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions to count towards state pension. 

With the threshold rising, many will find themselves with more cash in the pocket as they now fall below the lowest tax bracket but it will in turn stop them from earning qualifying years through their work. 

An alternative to working, or being credited, for National Insurance contributions, are voluntary contributions. 

These can be bought at any point in one’s life, making it a life saver for many who get to state pension age and realise they are a few years short. 

Additionally, voluntary contributions can fill up one’s National Insurance record and potentially make them eligible for contribution-based benefits. 

The deadline for paying voluntary contributions is April 5 each year. 

Britons can pay these contributions to cover the past six years, but some circumstances may mean they can go further back. 

There are different voluntary contributions rates as well, with class two and three counting towards both state pension and different contributory benefits. 

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Those who live and work abroad can only contribute class two contributions if they worked in the UK before they left and previously lived in the UK for at least three years in a row. 

The following will qualify Britons for class three contributions:

  • Employed but earning under £123 per week and not eligible for National Insurance credits
  • Living abroad but not working abroad
  • Unemployed and not claiming benefits
  • Married women
  • Widow who stopped paying reduced rates.

People who qualify under the following can voluntarily contribute class two or class three:

  • Self-employed with income of £1,000 or less
  • Self-employed with income over £1,000 but profits less than £6,275
  • Self-employed as an examiner, religious minister
  • In an investment or land and property business.

Currently the cost of voluntary contributions are as follows:

  • Class two: £3.15 per week
  • Class three: £15.85 per week.

Essentially, purchasing a years’ worth of state pension will cost £163.80 for those using class two contributions and £824.20 for those using class three. 

These amounts are subject to change. 

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