Get your state pension forecast

Finding out your state pension forecast is a savvy move for people in their 40s or older who want to effectively plan for retirement. It is especially essential for women who have taken time out of work to raise children or case for relatives because they may find gaps in their contributions.

1. A state pension forecast will tell you in today's money values the amount of state pension you may get based on your National Insurance contributions. It will also tell you the basic state pension you have earned to date, and if there is anything you can do to improve your basic state pension.

2. If you are living in the UK, are more than 30 days away from state pension age (60 for women, 65 for men) and will reach state pension age on or before 6 April 2010 then you are eligible to get a state pension forecast from the Department for Work and Pensions by filling in a BR19 form online or by phoning 0845 3000 1698.

3. If you will reach state pension after this date, you can’t get a formal forecast until later this year because the DWP computer system is being updated to reflect changes introduced by the Pensions Act 2007. However, you can call the DWP on 0845 3000 1698 to get an idea of any gaps and discuss buy back options. The full system should be working by this autumn.

4. You currently need to make 39 years of NI contributions to qualify for the full state pension of £87.30 a week. But from 6 April 2010, the government will cut the required number of years of NI contributions to 30. The state pension age for women will also fall in-line with men's. At some point between 2012 and 2015 the basic state pension will change to increase in-line with earnings, rather than prices. This means it should rise more quickly each year than it does now.

5. If you have taken time out of work to raise children or care for relatives then you can buy back NI contributions for the six years directly preceding you reaching the state pension age. However, from April 2010, certain people who are not paying NI contributions - such as people on child benefits or carers - will be able to build up their entitlement to the basic state pension. If they pay NI contributions for part of a tax year then these will be combined with special credits to gain a qualifying year.

Find out how to boost your state pension

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