BENEFITS EXPERT: Will pension changes affect me?

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I wrote to you three years ago because I had no idea what sort of pension I could expect when I retired. At that time I was 57, living with my husband, who was paying into a company pension at work.

I had not worked since my daughter was born.

You advised me to obtain a Pension Statement from the Pensions Service on 0845 300 0168, to find out what progress I was making towards my State Pension.

I received a Pension Statement telling me that, under the rules at the time, I had acquired 33 qualifying years of National Insurance, which would give me a basic State Pension at the full rate, which at the time was £107.45 a week.

The qualifying years were made up of the National Insurance contributions I had paid while working and the credits I had earned while bringing up a child.

In addition, I had earned Graduated Retirement Benefit and Additional State Pension totalling £18.64 a week, giving me an overall full entitlement of £126.09 at the rates payable at the time.

Now that I have just turned 60, and have heard that the rules for pensions will soon be changing, I wonder if they will affect me in any way?

Yes, there have been some changes that will affect you.

Firstly, the age at which people qualify for their state pensions is gradually rising.

Because of your date of birth, you will not be entitled to yours until you reach 66.

Also people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 will claim the new Single Tier Pension.

This will replace the existing Basic State Pension, Graduated Retirement Benefit and Additional State Pension.

The maximum rate is £155.65 and is based upon a person’s own National Insurance, not that of a spouse or civil partner.

The current basic State Pension is payable at the maximum rate if the person has 30 qualifying years.  

However, someone will need 35 qualifying years for the Single-Tier Pension.  

People who have less than 35 years on their record will have a reduced pension, depending upon their level of National Insurance.

If your National Insurance record stays as it is at 33 qualifying years, which is less than the full 35, you will be eligible for a modified Single Tier Pension which would be £146.75 per week.

If you were to add more qualifying years to your National Insurance record before your pension age of 66 you will be able to qualify for a bigger Single Tier Pension.

One more qualifying year will give you an extra £4.44 a week; two will give you an extra £8.88 a week.