Why you should check your National Insurance record

How to check your National Insurance record in 2022

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 how to check your National Insurance record in 2022, what gaps could mean, and how to fix them.

 

National Insurance breakdown

National Insurance contributions (NICs) are a tax on earnings that allow you to qualify for a range of benefits.

National Insurance is split into several classes. What class you fall into depends on your employment status and how much you earn. Below is an overview of the NI classes.

Class 1

Those earning £242 per week pay class 1 contributions, deducted automatically by your employer.

Class 1A or 1B

Paid by employers on any benefits or expenses of their employees.

Class 2

Paid by self-employed people with annual profits of £6,725 or more. Self-employed people earning under this threshold can pay voluntary contributions if they have gaps in their National Insurance record.

Class 3

Class 3 is for anyone wanting to make voluntary contributions to fill in gaps in their National Insurance record.

Class 4

Those who are self-employed with annual profits of £11,909 or more each year pay Class 4 National Insurance Contributions.

 

How much National Insurance do I pay?

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

  • An employee earning above £242 a week
  • Self-employed with profits of £6,725 or more a year

Like income tax, the amount you pay all depends on your level of earnings. For most people during this tax year (2022/23), the rates are as follows:

  • 13.25%– for weekly earnings between £242 and £967
  • 3.25%– 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 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.

By the time you reach pension age, you must have paid National Insurance Contributions for 10 years to receive any State Pension. The minimum qualifying years will mean you will receive 10/35ths of whatever the maximum State Pension amount is at the time (currently£185.15 per week).

You must have paid National Insurance Contributions for 35 years to receive the maximum State Pension. The formula used to work out State Pension is as follows:

Maximum weekly amount ÷ maximum qualifying years x number of actual qualifying years

So, let’s say you have 20 qualifying years. To determine how much you would get, you would do 185.15 ÷ 35 x 20, which works out to £105.80 per week.

Gaps in your National Insurance record can have a significant impact. Missing a single 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 lets you view your contributions record online. The online record allows you can check National Insurance Contributions and find any gaps in your record.

The website allows you to:

  • 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. This status will show whether or not your NICs were complete that year. If the year is incomplete, the ‘view details’ button will bring up how much is owed for that year to be marked 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.

Class 3 contributions are currently 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 and Class 3 payments 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 to cover most people’s average retirement costs, according to research by the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

Data from the trade association revealed that a couple’s average annual cost of a comfortable retirement is nearly £48,000. Meanwhile, the average dual pension income is under £27,000 per year.

The key is to plan ahead to ensure you can enjoy your post-working years as you intended. Still, retirement planning doesn’t seem to be a priority for many.

Separate research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) found that a third of those over 50 don’t start planning their finances until two years before they retire.

Waiting until you are close to retirement age to start building your pension pot gives you little time to reach your goals.

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 worked 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.

 

National Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

 

How many years do I need to pay National Insurance?

To receive the minimum State pension, you need 10 years of contributions and 35 years for the maximum amount.

Can I pay missed years’ National Insurance contributions?

Expats often have missed years if they have worked overseas for an extended period and have not been paying NI on their salaries. You can fill in any gaps in your NI record by making voluntary contributions.

What happens if you pay more than 35 years of National Insurance contributions?

Paying more than 35 years will not increase the amount of State Pension you get. It’s important to bear this in mind when checking your National Insurance record and making voluntary contributions.

What is the difference between the old basic State Pension and the new State Pension in 2022?

The main difference between the two is the amount you receive. Under the new system, the maximum amount is £9,627.80 per year. Meanwhile, the maximum old basic State Pension is £7,376.20 – £2,476 less.

You qualify for the new State Pension if:

  • You are a man born on or after 6th April 1951
  • You are a woman born on or after 6th April 1953

Those born before these dates receive the basic State Pension instead.

What is the minimum UK State Pension?

£52.90 per week. The State Pension is calculated by taking the maximum amount (currently £185.15 per week) and dividing it by 35 (the years required to get the full amount. You then divide that number by the number of qualifying years. The minimum number of years needed to get any State Pension is 10. So to work out the minimum amount, the formula is 185.15 ÷ 35 x 10 = 52.90.

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