An introduction to State Pension

The UK State Pension is a regular payment a UK citizen can receive when the person reaches retirement age. It is based on a person’s National insurance contributions and, therefore, varies in amount from person to person. As of 2012, you are entitled to claim your State Pension if you have built up at least £5,304 in National Insurance contribution before reaching State Pension age.

State Pension age

The Pensions Act 2011, which is applicable to Great Britain, changed when people can get their State Pension. As of 2012, a Bill seeking to make similar changes to the State Pension age in line with present Social Security arrangements is under consideration by the Northern Ireland Assembly. If the Bill passes, the same changes as those in Great Britain will take effect in Northern Ireland.

According to The Pensions Act 2011, the government intends to bring forward the date when State Pension Age officially increases to 67. If this change comes into effect, it will affect everyone who was born between 6th April 1960 and 5th April 1069. As it stands in the current law, State Pension age is due to increase to 68 from 2044, affecting people born after 5th April 1977. The changes under consideration are intended to change the State Pension age to reflect future changes in life expectancy.

Planning for retirement

State Pension benefits give you a regular income for the rest of your life. This means you can get a reliable source of income in retirement. Although the amount you get might not be enough to support the kind of lifestyle you would want, it can be a good place to start when planning for retirement.

It is a good idea to know what sort of State Pension you are entitled to for better planning. Some people will get additional sums on top of their State Pension, depending on their individual circumstances. Check with your local Department of Social Security to see what you may become entitled to when you reach retirement age.

How to claim your State Pension

The Pension Service will usually contact you four months before you reach State Pension age to ask whether you want to claim your State Pension. You do not have to claim your pension straight away. Putting it off for some time might actually be a good idea, if you are already getting certain social security benefits.

If you don’t get the letter from Pension Service three months from your State Pension age, you may want to initiate the claiming process yourself. Call the State Pension claim telephone line on the number 0800 731 7898 or send them a text message on 0800 731 7339. Lines are usually open from Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm.

Alternatively, download the State Pension claim form from Direct.gov.uk, print it out, fill it and then send it to your local pension centre to initiate the process. This method, however, takes longer to sail through than making a direct phone call to the Service.

How much you can make with State Pension

As of 2011 and 2012, an individual can get up to £102.15 basic State Pension every week. Some people get less than this amount, but the majority of people get more than the amount. Those who get more than £102.15 usually also get additional State Pension benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance. Although many people do not claim State Pension, the pension can actually be a welcome source of revenue in retirement.

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