Unemployed? How to top up your National Insurance record and ensure you get state pension

State Pension: Expert outlines criteria to qualify

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In order to receive any state pension, people need at least 10 qualifying years where they paid National Insurance or received credits for it. Having gaps in one’s employment, regardless of the reason, could heavily impact this which is why it is vital for Britons to claim the credits they are entitled to.

Unemployed Britons in certain circumstances could claim National Insurance credits to bulk up their record or make voluntary contributions. 

Having a solid National Insurance record can help Britons put their best foot forward when going into retirement and offer them contributory based benefits. 

For working age people, contributory based benefits include:

  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • New Style Employment Support Allowance
  • Bereavement Support Payment.

People can check their National Insurance record on the Gov.uk website. 

Voluntary contributions, also known as class three National Insurance, only count towards state pension and are paid at a rate of £15.85 per week.

It should be noted that paying voluntary contributions may not always increase one’s state pension payments. 

Some people will receive National Insurance credits automatically through other benefits they claim while others will have to apply for them. 

Certain circumstances will make people eligible for National Insurance credits. 

Looking for work

People claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and are not in education or working six hours or more per week will automatically receive class one credits.

Those who are unemployed and looking for work but not receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance can contact their local Jobcentre to claim their credits. 

Being ill, disabled or on sick pay

Receiving Employment and Support Allowance or Unemployability Supplement or Allowance will automatically get someone class one credits. 

If someone meets the conditions for ESA but does not receive it could apply for a new style ESA in order to receive their credits.

People on Statutory Sick Pay and not earning enough to pay National Insurance need to apply in writing for their credits.

They must include their National Insurance number, the dates the credits are for and reason why they are eligible for them. 

On maternity, paternity or adoption pay

People receiving Maternity Allowance automatically receive class one credits. 

Those on Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption Pay or Additional Statutory Paternity Pay but do not earn enough to pay National Insurance will need to follow the same process as those on statutory sick pay to claim their credits. 


Anyone receiving Carer’s Allowance should automatically receive class one credits. 

Those on income Support and providing regular care should automatically receive class three credits. 

Carers looking after one or more people for at least 20 hours per week but not receiving Carer’s Allowance or Income Support can apply for class three carer’s credits. 

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