How to check your National Insurance record

When was the last time you checked your National Insurance record?

It’s probably been a while, or maybe you haven’t ever checked. Either way, it’s easier than ever to check your National Insurance (NI) contributions and doing so could be beneficial.

In this article, we look at why it’s essential for you to know if you have any gaps in your National Insurance record, how to check and what to do if there are gaps.

National Insurance breakdown

National Insurance contributions (NICs) are a tax on earnings that allow you to qualify for certain benefits should you need them.

NICs are compulsory for everyone over the age of 16 and either:

  • An employee earning above £184 a week
  • Self-employed with profits of £6,515 or more a year

The amount you pay all depends on how much you earn. For most people during this tax year (2021/22), the rates are as follows:

  • 12% – for weekly earning between £184 and £967
  • 2% – for weekly earnings over £967

You should note that the amount you pay can change from tax year to tax year.

Why you should check your NICs

Your NICs are directly related to if and how much State Pension you receive. The number of qualifying years on your National Insurance record is what determines this.

Qualifying years are simply the number of years you have paid NI. You should note that qualifying years do not need to be consecutive years.

To receive any State Pension at all, you will need 10 years of contributions. The minimum qualifying years will mean you will receive 10/35ths of whatever the maximum State Pension amount is at the time (currently £179.60 per week).

To receive the full State Pension, you will need 35 years of contributions on your National Insurance record.

Gaps on your National Insurance record can have a significant impact. One missed year of contributions could be the difference between receiving the full amount or a lesser amount.

Luckily, it is easy to check your NI contributions to avoid pitfalls later down the line.

How to check your National Insurance record

The UK government website has a dedicated page that allows you to get a detailed breakdown of your National Insurance record.

The website allows you to:

  • Clearly see missing/incomplete years of NICs
  • How much you owe for the missing/incomplete years

To log in, you will need your Government Gateway information, which includes a user ID and password.

You can set up a new account on the Government Gateway homepage or use the links provided to retrieve forgotten passwords or IDs.

If you spot any NIC gaps, don’t worry, there is a solution.

Filling in the gaps

When you check NI contributions online, each tax year will have a status. It will let you know if NICs were full that year or not. If the year is not complete, the ‘view details’ button will bring up how much is owed for that year to be classed as ‘complete’.

These are called voluntary contributions, which allow you to fill in gaps in your National Insurance record.

Voluntary contributions are broken into two groups – Class 2 and Class 3.

Currently, Class 3 contributions are charged at a weekly flat rate of £15.40. If you have been working abroad, you may be able to pay Class 2 contributions instead. Class 2 contributions are currently set at a weekly flat rate of £3.05.

The way you pay will depend on your circumstances. If you are unsure, it is best to seek professional advice. You can make Class 2 payments here while Class 3 payments are made here.

It’s also important to note that you can only pay for gaps in your National Insurance record from the past six years in most cases. However, making up shortfalls can allow you to meet the requirements for a full State Pension.

Supplement not solution

The UK State Pension is a great way to supplement your retirement fund. However, the State Pension alone will not be enough on its own to cover the costs of retirement for most.

When it comes to retirement planning, the earlier you start, the better. Having a strategy in place gives you the best possible chance of reaching your retirement goals and being financially secure.

At Holborn, we have been working with clients for over 20 years, helping them plan for a financially secure retirement. No matter what your goals or situation, our experts can help.

To find out how we can help you, contact us using the form below.

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