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The UK State Pension explained

The Basics

To qualify for any UK state pension you must have a minimum of 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record. Your National Insurance record effectively reflects the National Insurance deductions you paid to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) while working in the UK.

If an individual has less than 10 years but 3 or more years on his/her national insurance record, then they may be entitled to make voluntary contributions to enhance their national insurance record and thereby secure a UK state pension.

For individuals with both pre and post 5th April 2016 national insurance contributions the state pension entitlement is the aggregate of:

  •   state pension entitlement accrued up to 5th April 2016 @ £169.50 per week


  •   state pension entitlement accruing after 5th April 2016 @ £221.20 per week

The state pension entitlement accrued up to 5th April 2016 is referred to as the starting amount, ie. (a) above. This is best explained by way of example.

John started working in the UK in April 1992 and intends to return to Ireland in March 2019. Upon reaching retirement age, he will qualify for a UK state pension of:

  • a) starting amount (pre April 2016)
    • April 1992 to March 2016: 24 years
    • 24/30 x £169.50 = £135.60 per week


  • b) post April 2016
    • April 2016 to March 2019: 3 years
  • 3/35 x £221.20 = £18.96 per week

John’s total state pension when he retires in March 2019 will amount to the total of  (a) plus (b) or £154.56 per week.

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