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Caring and your pension
If you cannot work or don't earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) because you're caring for someone, you may be credited with NICs. If you are a pensioner, you may be able to get Pension Credit.
The State Pension is made up of two parts: a flat-rate basic pension and an earnings-related additional pension, also called the State Second Pension.
Your entitlement to State Pension is based on the number of 'qualifying years', based on your National Insurance contributions record. See 'Qualifying for a basic State Pension'.
A person who has 30 qualifying years will be entitled to a full basic State Pension. Just one qualifying year will give entitlement to the basic State Pension worth 1/30th of the full basic State Pension.
Additional State Pension
If you don't earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions or you're self-employed, you can still build up an entitlement to additional State Pension, if:
- you qualified for Home Responsibilities Protection before April 2010
- you are entitled to Carer's Credit
- you are a foster carer
- you are entitled to Carer's Allowance, even if you do not receive it because you get another benefit at the same or a higher rate
- you get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12
Additional State Pension is also called State Second Pension.
The government recently announced changes to who can claim Child Benefit. The full implications of the change, including how to make sure that those affected continue to receive credits towards their State Pension, are being considered. Further information will become available in due course.
Carer's Allowance and National Insurance contributions
For each week you receive Carer's Allowance you will normally get National Insurance credits. This is unless you're a woman who has chosen to pay reduced rate National Insurance contributions.
You'll also normally get National Insurance Credits for any week you're entitled to Carer's Allowance but it's not paid because you're also getting:
- Widow's Benefit at the same or a higher weekly rate
- Bereavement Benefits at the same or a higher weekly rate
Home Responsibilities Protection
From 6 April 1978 to 5 April 2010, Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) could protect your right to State Pension. This applies if you were caring for someone and did not have enough National Insurance contributions or National Insurance credits in a particular year.
You should have got HRP automatically if throughout a complete tax year you either:
- got Income Support and you were caring full time for someone who was sick or disabled
- got Child Benefit for a child under 16
To be eligible for HRP, you must have looked after someone who was sick and disabled and did not get Income Support or Child Benefit. You had to apply for each tax year in which you needed HRP.
HRP has been replaced by National Insurance credits for people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010.
If you reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010, the HRP you built up before 2010 were converted into qualifying years. This is up to a maximum of 22 years.
These qualifying years will also count towards bereavement benefits.
Carer’s Credit has been introduced from 6 April 2010. It is a National Insurance credit which helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension.
To qualify for Carer’s Credit you must care for one or more disabled people for a total of 20 hours or more per week. Each person you care for must receive one of the following:
- Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
- Attendance Allowance at any rate
- Constant Attendance Allowance at any rate
If the person being cared for doesn't receive one of these benefits, Carer’s Credit can still be awarded if you supply a Care Certificate. This will need to be signed by a health or social care professional (HSCP). A Care Certificate is supplied with each application pack.
Find out more about Carer's Credit including who is eligible and who to contact by downloading the application pack below.
The application pack contains:
- the form
- detailed notes on who is eligible and what you need to do
- a Care Certificate
If you have any questions about Carer’s Credit, contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit:
Telephone: 0845 608 4321
Textphone: 0845 604 5312
Receiving Carer's Allowance and State Pension
If you receive Carer's Allowance and start receiving State Pension at a higher rate than Carer's Allowance, you may stop receiving Carer's Allowance. But you'll continue to have an 'underlying entitlement' to it. For more about the effect of an underlying entitlement, see 'Carer's Allowance - effect on other benefits and entitlements'.
Pension Credit is an entitlement for people who have reached the qualifying age and are living in Great Britain. It could top up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. If you are aged 65 or over and have saved towards your retirement you could receive extra money on top of this.
You may get extra money if you or your partner have caring responsibilities, are severely disabled or have housing costs, for example a mortgage.
The age from which you can get Pension Credit – the qualifying age – is gradually increasing to 65 in line with women's State Pension age. To find out the age when you may be able to apply for Pension Credit, you can use the State Pension age calculator.
Changes to State Pension age
The age you receive your State Pension could be changing. To find out if you are affected, see the article ‘Calculating your State Pension age’.