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How are National Insurance contributions paid?

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You are entitled to the basic State Pension if you have paid, been treated as having paid or been credited with enough UK National Insurance (NI) contributions:

  • If you are in paid work and you earn more than £100 in any week (for 2007/2008) from a single employer, you will pay NI contributions through your wages
  • If you are working and earning between £87 and £100 in a week (for 2007/2008) from a single employer, you will be treated as if you have paid NI contributions
  • If you have not been able to make NI contributions (for example, if you haven’t been able to work due to illness or because you have been looking after a sick or disabled person and getting Carer’s Allowance), you may be granted NI credits. Or, if you have been caring for children, been a foster carer, or been looking after a seriously ill or disabled person (but not able to get Carer’s Allowance), you may have the number of your qualifying years reduced to help increase your State Pension entitlement.
  • If you are self-employed, you must pay NI contributions unless you have made a successful application not to pay because of low earnings. You must make these payments to HM Revenue & Customs yourself
  • In some circumstances you may be able to use your wife’s, husband’s or civil partner’s NI contributions to help you get a better State Pension

From April 2010, you may be credited with contributions for periods when you were:

  • receiving Child Benefit for a child under 12
  • caring for a sick or disabled person for at least 20 hours
  • an approved foster carer

If you reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2010, periods for which you have been awarded HRP before this date will be converted to credits.

If you have gaps in your National Insurance record which mean you will not get a full basic State Pension when you reach State Pension age you may be able to fill them by paying voluntary contributions. For further information please see:

National Insurance Contributions on the HM Revenue & Customs website

State Pension – Paying Class 3 National Insurance contributions

Additional Voluntary National Insurance contribution factsheets