If you have missed some vital years that mean your state pension is less than expected, don’t despair because you can buy a top up.
The most the state pension will pay to a new retiree is £159.55 a week.
Until the next election, that is index-linked by the triple lock, which guarantees a minimum 2.5% a year increase or a rise in line with inflation or average wages.
The crucial month is September, when the following April’s increase is set.
Read this article and find out more how to claim your UK state pension as an expat
How many qualifying years are needed for the full state pension?
To claim the full £159.55, someone has to have 35 qualifying years of national insurance contributions
What if I have fewer qualifying years?
A formula is used to calculate the state pension entitlement. The rule of thumb is each qualifying year entitles the claimant to 1/35th of the full amount, with a minimum of 10 qualifying years.
Should I have paid national insurance for all those years?
No, some people have national insurance credits, for example for years they were registered as unemployed, listed as carers or taking time off to raise a family.
How do I make up missed years?
By buying voluntary contributions.
Men born between April 6, 1945 and April 5, 1950 are eligible, as are women born between April 6, 1950 and April 5, 1952.
How much do voluntary contributions cost?
The cost is £741.00 a year for each complete year purchased. You may not need to pay for a whole year if you have already paid some contribution or have some credits s during that year.
What if I am on benefits?
Voluntary contributions may not be the best option. Paying to increase the state pension may see some other income-related benefits fall, such as pension credit, housing benefit or council tax benefit. The result would be spending to get more pension only to replace free money received from another state source.
Improving the state pension could also mean paying more income tax if your combined pension and other earnings come to more than the personal income tax allowance (£11,500 for 2017-18).
Can expats make voluntary contributions?
Yes. Contact the Newcastle Pension Centre (International Group) on +44 191 218 7777 to discuss how this might affect your UK state pension.