Contents. What is the State Pension? JARGON BUSTER

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1 This information is an extract from the booklet Pensions, which is part of our Financial guidance series. You may find the full booklet helpful. We can send you a free copy see page 11. Contents What is the State Pension? State Pension age Pension Credit Protecting your right to State Pension Child Benefit and State Pension Can I claim State Pension early? If you die before or after State Pension age What is the State Pension? The State Pension is a regular payment you can get from the government when you reach a certain age. How much State Pension you get depends on how many National Insurance contributions you have made. If you get a war pension or financial support from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, what you re entitled to may be different from what is explained here. Ask one of our welfare rights advisers what this means for you call them for free on JARGON BUSTER National Insurance A tax you pay while working. These contributions may help you become eligible for State Pension and some other state benefits.. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 1 of 11

2 State Pension age The age you can claim your State Pension from depends on when you were born. You can check when you ll reach State Pension age at gov.uk/calculate-state-pension The State Pension age for men is currently 65. The State Pension age for women is increasing to become 65 by November From December 2018, the State Pension age for both men and women will start increasing in stages. It will reach: 66 by October between 2026 and from a date that hasn t been finalised but it s likely to be the mid-2030s. If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, there are two parts to State Pension: basic State Pension Additional State Pension. Under these rules, to get the full basic State Pension you need to have made, or been credited with, at least 30 years of National Insurance contributions. If you have made fewer National Insurance contributions, you may still be able to get some State Pension, but the amount will be lower. The most basic State Pension you can currently get is a week. Depending on your National Insurance contribution records, you may be entitled to more. This is known as Additional State Pension. The State Pension is changing. People who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 will get a new State Pension with different rules. They will still need to have paid, or been credited with, a certain level of National Insurance contributions. Page 2 of 11 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

3 If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 A new State Pension is being introduced for people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April The aim of this change is to simplify the State Pension. You will usually need 10 years of full National Insurance contributions to get any new State Pension. The new State Pension will pay at least a week. You may be able to get more. The amount you get will depend on how many years of National Insurance contributions you have made. The amounts will be decided in autumn You don t have to claim the new State Pension as soon as you reach State Pension age. By choosing to wait, you can get more money when you do claim it. For more information, visit gov.uk/new-state-pension Pension Credit Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people who have reached the Pension Credit qualifying age. Means-tested means you are able to get the benefit if your income or savings, or both, are below a certain level. Who can claim The Pension Credit qualifying age is the same as the State Pension age for women (see page 2). Pension Credit is made up of two different parts: Guarantee Credit Savings Credit. Guarantee Credit increases your weekly income if it s below a certain amount. You may get extra in some circumstances, for example if you re a carer or have a severe disability. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 3 of 11

4 Some income will not be taken into account: 5 a week for single people 10 a week for couples 20 a week for other people, such as those who are severely disabled. Savings Credit is a weekly payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement (for example, a personal pension). For more information or to find out the exact date when you can claim State Pension and Pension Credit, speak to a welfare rights adviser or visit gov.uk/calculate-state-pension Changes to the State Pension (see page 3) will also affect Pension Credit. Most people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 will not be able to get the Savings Credit part of Pension Credit. How much you ll get each week The rates below show how much Pension Credit pays from April 2015 April Rate Guaranteed Credit Savings Credit Single people Couples Whatever amount is needed to increase your weekly income to at least Whatever amount is needed to increase your weekly income to at least Up to Up to Changes to Pension Credit People currently over the qualifying age for Pension Credit can also get Housing Benefit and tax credits. However, Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit will be replaced once Universal Credit has been introduced in all areas. This may not be until From this point, Pension Credit will be changed to include help with housing costs and bringing up a child, for those who need it. Page 4 of 11 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

5 If you want to apply for Pension Credit visit gov.uk/pensioncredit or call JARGON BUSTER Universal credit A new benefit for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It includes money for basic living, children and housing. It replaces other means-tested benefits and is gradually being introduced in England, Scotland and Wales. It has not yet been introduced in Northern Ireland. Protecting your right to State Pension There may be times when you don t pay National Insurance, for example, because you re off work sick, unemployed or not earning enough. In these situations, you may get National Insurance credits. These cover the contributions you were unable to pay and count towards your entitlement to the basic State Pension or the new State Pension that starts in If you are not working because you care for children under the age of 12, care for a frail or disabled adult, or are disabled yourself, you may also be credited with some Additional State Pension (see page 2). You will probably still build up National Insurance credits (and therefore basic State Pension or new State Pension) if the following applies: You are unable to work because of illness or disability. You are looking for work. You care for someone who is ill or disabled (you must get Carer s Allowance or care for them at least 20 hours a week). You claim Child Benefit for a child under 12 (see page 7). Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 5 of 11

6 You get Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit. You are a man who is nearly 65 and has reached the State Pension age for women, but you don t work or earn very much. In other situations, periods off work will probably appear as gaps in your National Insurance record. This may reduce the amount of State Pension you eventually get. But you need 30 years (35 full National Insurance years from 2016) of National Insurance contributions and credits for a full Basic State Pension or the full new State Pension. So you may not need to worry about filling these gaps if you ve worked for a certain number of years. To find out about National Insurance credits, you can: visit gov.uk/national-insurance-credits (if you live in England, Scotland or Wales) visit nidirect.gov.uk/getting-credits-towards-your -state-pension (if you live in Northern Ireland) call the HMRC National Insurance helpline on JARGON BUSTER Carer s Allowance A benefit that helps people look after someone with serious care needs. Child Benefit A benefit for people who are responsible for a child or children aged under 16 (or under 20 in certain cases). Working Tax Credit A payment made to top up the earnings of people who are working but are on a low income. This benefit is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit. Page 6 of 11 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

7 Child Benefit and State Pension If you have a child under 12 and are not working, claiming Child Benefit could help you qualify for National Insurance credits. These credits count towards your State Pension. If you or your partner have an individual income of more than 50,000 and one of you is entitled to Child Benefit, the person with the higher income may be affected by a tax charge called the High Income Child Benefit Charge. You can choose not to receive Child Benefit to avoid the tax bill. If you do this, make sure you still complete the claim forms even though you will receive nothing. This means you ll still get National Insurance credits while you re not working, which will count towards your State Pension. For more information, call the National Insurance helpline on (textphone ). Can I claim State Pension early? You can t start getting your State Pension before you reach State Pension age. But if you can t work because of illness or caring responsibilities, or if your household income is low, you may be able to claim other state benefits instead. Call our financial guides on or visit macmillan.org.uk/financialissues to find out more about benefits. If you die before or after State Pension age If you reach your State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, the new State Pension will be based on your own National Insurance record. After you die, what your spouse or civil partner can inherit will depend on when: you reach State Pension age your spouse or civil partner reaches State Pension age. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 7 of 11

8 To find out how this new rule may affect your spouse or civil partner, visit gov.uk/state-pension-through-partner The rules are complicated so you can also call our financial guides on if you think you may be affected by this. Bereavement benefits Your spouse or civil partner may also be able to claim: a one-off Bereavement Payment of 2,000 in a tax-free lump sum Bereavement Allowance for one year (see page 9) Widowed Parent s Allowance (see page 9 10). All these benefits will depend on the amount of National Insurance contributions you ve paid or been credited with. Call the Bereavement Service helpline on to find out what you can claim. If your surviving family members income and savings are low, they may qualify for means-tested benefits, or an increase in benefits that they already claim. If they re still of working age, they may also be able to claim tax credits. If your spouse or civil partner is already claiming other meanstested benefits, bereavement benefits may reduce the amount they get. The one-off Bereavement Payment does not usually affect other benefits. JARGON BUSTER Bereavement benefits You may be able to claim benefits if your husband, wife or civil partner has recently died. Means-tested benefit A benefit that you may be able to get if your income and savings are below a certain level. Page 8 of 11 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

9 Bereavement Payment If your spouse or civil partner is under their State Pension age when you die, they should get a one-off payment of 2,000. This will be a tax-free lump sum. You cannot get a Bereavement Payment if: you are divorced your civil partnership is dissolved you were living with someone else when your spouse or civil partner died. Bereavement Allowance If your spouse or civil partner is aged between 45 and State Pension age when you die, they may be able to claim Bereavement Allowance. This used to be called Widow s Pension. They can get payments for up to 52 weeks from the date you die. The amount they get depends on: the overall level of your National Insurance contributions their age at the time of your death. Visit gov.uk/bereavement-allowance/what-youll-get to find out how much your spouse or civil partner can claim. Your spouse or civil partner won t get Bereavement Allowance if they: are bringing up children (see Widowed Parent s Allowance) remarry or form a new civil partnership live with another person as if they are married or in a civil partnership. Widowed Parent s Allowance (WPA) Your spouse or civil partner can claim Widowed Parent s Allowance if all of the following are true: You have died. Your spouse or civil partner has at least one dependant child that you were a parent to. Your spouse or civil partner is under State Pension age. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 9 of 11

10 Your spouse or civil partner may also be able to claim if they are pregnant. The maximum they can claim is currently a week. This will continue until the child is 16 (or 20 if they stay in approved education or training). Contact the Bereavement Service on to find out more and make a claim. Bereavement benefits will be simplified from April For more information about bereavement benefits, you can speak to a welfare rights adviser by calling the Macmillan Support Line on In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, partners who aren t married or in civil partnerships can t claim bereavement benefits. In Scotland, there is an exception for couples who can show they have been in an irregular marriage since before 3 May This means you live with someone and are treated as if you are married. NEXT STEPS Check how much State Pension you may get and when you may reach State Pension age at gov.uk/statepensionstatement or by calling the government s Future Pensions Centre on This will give you an idea of the State Pension you ve built up so far. To find out how the new State Pension inheritance rule may affect your spouse or civil partner, visit gov.uk/ state-pension-through-partner If you re worried about how you ll cope financially before qualifying for the State Pension, call our financial guides on to find out whether you can claim other state benefits. Page 10 of 11 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

11 More information and support More than one in three of us will get cancer. For most of us it will be the toughest fight we ever face. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience make it even harder. But you don t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way. To order a copy of Pensions or any other information from our financial guidance series, visit be.macmillan.org.uk or call We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date but it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialist professional advice tailored to your situation. So far as is permitted by law, Macmillan does not accept liability in relation to the use of any information contained in this publication, or thirdparty information or websites included or referred to in it. Macmillan Cancer Support Registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Registered office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UQ REVISED IN MAY 2015 Planned review in 2016 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 11 of 11

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