Expats Miss Out On New State Pension Changes

Two out of three people approaching state pension age are confused by the latest changes to the UK state pension, according to research by consumer watchdogs.

Working out how much state pension is due for expats is even harder.

Thousands of expats will gain from the new flat rate payment, but are likely to miss out on at least £200 in guaranteed increases every year because their pension is frozen.

Others will not receive the full payment because they do not have enough working years or credits to qualify, while thousands will have to wait longer for their money as the state pension age rises.

The new pension of £155.65 is paid from April 6, 2016 to retiring men who were born after April 6, 1951 and women giving up work who were born after April 6, 1953.

Working out your qualifying years

Anyone already receiving the state pension on April 5, 2016, will continue to receive payments under the old rules.

However, expats will only receive the full state pension if they have 35 qualifying years of national insurance contributions – up from 30 years under the old rules.

A qualifying year is one where an employee paid national insurance or when someone was self-employed and paid national insurance contributions.

For those not working, national insurance credits are given to carers, those suffering from illness or disability that stops them working, child benefit claimants or jobless allowances.

Anyone with gaps in their qualifying years can buy extra years with voluntary contributions.

For those in their 50s and early 60s, the retirement age also jumps from 65 years old to 67 years old for men and women from November 2018.

Who gets the new state pension?

According to research by consumer group Which?, only one in five workers approaching retirement realised the retirement age increases in 2018.

Meanwhile, 44% of workers did not realise how much the state pension would pay them on retirement.

This issue is compounded for expats living in countries without agreements to pay benefits with the UK government.

Find out where expats receive index-linked state pensions

These expats will have their state pensions frozen at the amount of the first payment, even though pensioners in the UK, Europe and a handful of other countries will enjoy index-linking through the triple lock each September.

The triple lock guarantees state pension payments will rise by the highest of 2.5%, the average wage increase during the year or consumer price index inflation.

Find out how much state pension you are likely to receive

“People need more information about how the new state pension works and how much they are likely to receive so they can make plans for their retirement,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

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