HMRC launches new state pension top-up service in 'very good news' for thousands of pensioners

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HMRC has launched a new state pension top-up service

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 29/04/2024

- 13:32

Updated: 29/04/2024

- 15:30

People have had to phone up both the DWP and HMRC to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions until now

HMRC has today launched the long-awaited online state pension top-up service.

Via the online tool, Britons will be able to check for and fill any gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record to help increase their state pension.

The existing "Check your State Pension forecast" tool has now been enhanced to include a fully end-to-end digital solution.

Customers will be able to see how much their state pension could increase by and see details of the voluntary National Insurance contributions they would need to pay to achieve this.

Most people under state pension age will be able to view gaps in their National Insurance record and, if it would benefit them, pay voluntary National Insurance contributions to fill the gaps.

For those who find their state pension could be increased by paying voluntary National Insurance contributions will be able to use the new digital service to choose which years they would like to pay to fill.

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They will be able to pay securely through the service and get confirmation that their payment has been received and that their National Insurance record will be updated.

It's important people check to see if they can claim National Insurance credits first, and for those paying voluntary NI contributions, it's worth working out if they will be better off by making the payments.

People affected by new state pension transitional arrangements can currently still pay voluntary National Insurance contributions from April 6, 2006 to April 5, 2018, after the Government extended the deadline to April 5, 2025 last year.

Nigel Huddleston, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Having peace of mind when planning for retirement is crucial to ensure people can enjoy later life.

"That’s why HMRC has launched this new online service today, making a real difference for thousands of pensioners in their retirement while providing certainty to those in their middle years and those still planning ahead.”

Minister for Pensions, Paul Maynard, said: “The state pension is the foundation of income in retirement, which is why we have introduced this new online tool to help simplify boosting it for those who are able to.

“I would encourage everyone to check their state pension forecast and to take a look at how they could improve their state pension award with only a few simple clicks.”

Steve Webb, partner at LCP, said the announcement is "very good news" if people can top up their National Insurance record online.

He added: "Until now people have had to battle through on two different phone lines – one to check with DWP which years they can top up and then one to HMRC to get a reference number to make a payment.

"It must be a step in the right direction to be able to do all of this without hanging on a telephone.

"However, simply getting your NI record updated by HMRC is only half of the story. It then needs DWP to reassess your state pension entitlement based on your improved contribution record.

"There are already too many cases where people wait months or longer to get their pension figure revised.

"It is vital that the government puts in place new capacity at DWP to process all of these changes, otherwise they will simply have created a new bottleneck in the system."


Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at online investment service Bestinvest by Evelyn Partners, said the online tool would hopefully speed up the "cumbersome process" currently in place.

She said: "Making it easier for people to make these payments will not only ease taxpayer stress but also the burden on HMRC, which was forced to extend the deadline twice for people to plug gaps in 2023 after phonelines were flooded by calls from people trying to make up NI shortfalls.

"With just 11 months until the next deadline, anyone looking to make up a NI shortfall should start the process straightaway to ensure you make up those missed years before it is too late.

“People who might need to top up include those that took a career break as well as low earners or expatriates living and working abroad.

"Pension shortfalls and errors that have come to light in the last decade have particularly affected women who gave up work to look after children and widows – and it is now thought many divorcees could also have a state pension shock awaiting them.

“Plugging any gaps will ensure you receive your full state pension entitlement, a vital income source in the later stages of life when you may not be fit enough to continue working or have inadequate private pension savings.

“Remember, whether someone needs to top up will depend on how many more years they plan to work and whether they are eligible for NI tax credits, which fill the gaps - such as those who are sick, were unemployed or took time out to raise a family or care for elderly relations.”

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