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Carers : Protect your pension

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One in five carers is forced to give up employment in order to look after someone, and this causes gaps in their pension record. As a result, many carers struggle to make ends meet when they reach retirement age. This means that if you’re a carer, protecting your pensions can be an important issue.

There are ways that your state retirement pension can be protected. In order to receive a state retirement pension you have to have:

  • Paid enough national insurance contributions
  • Been credited with enough national insurance contributions
  • A combination of the two.

National insurance contributions are deductions from your earnings. Credits are amounts that are added to your contribution record in certain circumstances. There are three ways that your pension can be protected. Firstly, you may be able to protect your pension through national insurance credits, which are paid because you’re getting Carer’s Allowance or one of a number of other benefits. Secondly, you may be able to protect your pension through the home responsibility protection scheme if you don’t get Carer’s Allowance. Thirdly, you may be able to protect your pension through the new carer’s credit.

You may also have a private or works pension. See the information below on the range of pensions that exist and where to seek help if you’re going to take a break from paying into a private or works pension.

Advice on your pension :

As a carer, your working years may be a combination of paid employment in full-time, part-time, well-paid or low-paid jobs. There may be years when you haven’t done any paid work or you’ve spent long periods in part-time or low-paid employment. You can still benefit from a private pension in addition to the state pension.

There are many non-state pension schemes on offer, and you may wish to consider them all before deciding whether you want to take out a personal or stakeholder pension. However, you can also get help in making your decision from a financial adviser or specialist.

Financial Services Authority
All companies offering advice on pensions or other financial products must be registered by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). You can check if the person or company you’re using is registered by calling the FSA Consumer Helpline on 0845 606 1234 or using the FSA online register (see External links).

The Pensions Advisory Service
The Pensions Advisory Service is an independent, non-profit organisation that provides free information, advice and guidance on state, company, personal and stakeholder pension schemes (see External links).

Pension tracking

The Directgov pension service can help you find a pension company you have lost track of even if you don’t have all the details. Visit its online pension tracking service (see External links).