Is there a way to boost my state pension?

21 January 2013

Q

I got married in 1972 and started paying a married woman's national insurance stamp, which is what women did in those days, as their pensions were based on their husbands' NI contributions.I had some time away from work when we had a family, then returned to work in 1974 and continued to pay the reduced-rate NI stamp.I didn't receive any correspondence advising me that if I paid a full stamp I would be entitled to a pension of my own. I only became aware of this in about 1997, at which time I started paying the full stamp.I am 60 in February and my pension date is November 2015. If I work until then, I will have 19 years' worth of contributions. I have recently had a heart attack and I don't think I want to work for another three years, but I don't think I'm sick enough to claim sick pay until my retirement date. But if I stop working in April I will get a reduced pension, as I will have paid fewer years' contributions.I wonder if I am entitled to make some sort of claim for redress because I was not informed at the time the law changed about its effect on the situation of women paying married women's stamp.If I had known, I would have changed to paying full-rate contributions sooner, and would have had a bit more of a pension to look forward to.I think that I have read that if women have paid only the reduced rate throughout, they are going to be credited with five years' full-rate contributions, so I wondered if I could claim a couple of extra years' contributions as I paid the reduced rate for more than 20 years.
From
GC, Rhyl

A

There isn't a standard answer to your query, as your position will be dictated by your own specific circumstances. First of all, while the government has revealed that it will introduce a flat rate state pension of £144, this won't come into effect until 2017 so anyone retiring before then will still have to adhere to the current system.

In the first instance, you should get in contact with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Until 1977, married women and widows could choose to pay a reduced rate of Class 1 NI contributions if employed, and not to pay Class 2 contributions if self-employed.

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Paying reduced NI means that your contributions don't count toward some benefits, such as the basic state pension and bereavement benefits. However, you may still be able to get some help based on your husband's (or late husband's) contributions.

This means that you may be able to get an improved state pension based on your husband's NI record rather than your own. HMRC or CAB should be able to explain what options may be open to you.