BENEFITS EXPERT: ‘Should I have a bigger pension?’

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I am a married woman who has been receiving my State Pension since I was 60, eight years ago. It is £96.12 a week and I have never queried it. But I have friends whose pensions are much higher than mine. Do you think I should query it? I worked full-time and part-time for 45 years.

I think it would be a good idea for you to query how your State Pension has been calculated. I can see no obvious reason why it should be as low as £96.12, bearing in mind your record of employment.

 The State Pension may contain several elements, including the basic State Pension, Graduated Retirement Benefit and the Additional State Pension.

 A woman who reached State Pension age before April 6, 2010, as you did, would have needed 39 qualifying years of National Insurance to be entitled to the standard rate of basic State Pension which is currently £115.95 a week.

 Graduated Retirement Benefit is based upon graduated National Insurance contributions that people in work paid between 1961 and 1975.

 The Additional State Pension (once called SERPS) is based upon the value of a person’s National Insurance Contributions. Certain people who have a company pension may not receive any Additional State Pension.  

 These people are referred to as being ‘contracted out’. The lower rates of National Insurance Contributions, paid by certain married women, do not count towards the State Pension.

 I would suggest you request a copy of your National Insurance record by writing to:

National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office

HM Revenue and Customs

BX9 1AN

Am I entitled to extra on my State Pension for my wife who is not yet a pensioner? I am 70 (born June 1945) and she is 57, not working and has no benefits.

People who reached pension age before April 6, 2010 were able to claim extra (called an Adult Dependant’s Addition) in respect of a spouse who was under pension age and on a low income. As you did not reach State Pension age until after then you do not qualify for the addition.

 Your wife will not be of pension age until she is 66. Like all those who reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016, she will not be able to claim a State Pension based upon her spouse’s National Insurance record as is the case currently.

 She will only be able to have a State Pension based upon her personal National Insurance record. She may wish to find out what progress she is making towards qualifying for a State Pension by requesting a Pension Statement from the Pensions Service on 0345 300 0168.