Skip to content
Please donate

The old State Pension (before 2016)

If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, the old State Pension system applies to you.

What is the old State Pension?

The State Pension is a regular payment from the government based on your previous National Insurance contributions.

There are 2 different systems for claiming State Pension. 

The information on this page applies if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016. If you reached State Pension age on or after April 2016, the new State Pension system applies to you.

The old State Pension includes 2 parts:

  • a basic amount based on your previous National Insurance contributions
  • an additional amount also based on your National Insurance contributions – but this takes into account your earnings and whether you claimed benefits too.

The old State Pension is sometimes referred to as 'the basic State Pension'. 

Can I claim the old State Pension?

You need to have at least 30 years of NI contributions or credits to receive the full amount. If you’re a woman born before 6 April 1950 or a man born before 6 April 1945, you may need more years of NI contributions. If this applies to you, it's a good idea to seek specialist advice.

Qualifying NI contributions include contributions that you made when you were working and contributions that were credited to you if you were unable to work. For example, you may have received NI credits if you were caring for a child or someone living with a disability, or if you claimed certain benefits.

Can I claim State Pension and carry on working?

Yes, you can, but here are some things you should bear in mind:

  • Any money you earn won’t affect your State Pension, but it may affect your entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
  • Be aware that State Pension is taxable, so when it's added to your earnings it may put you into a higher tax band.
  • When you reach State Pension age, you won’t have to pay National Insurance anymore, even if you keep on working.

When can I claim my pension?

The earliest you can get the old State Pension is when you reach State Pension age.

Check your State Pension age

Use the government's State Pension calculator to find out your State Pension age.

How much State Pension will I get?

  • The full basic State Pension under the old system is currently £169.50 per week for people who have all the qualifying years of NI contributions for their date of birth. 
  • If you don't have all the qualifying years of NI contributions, you'll be paid a proportion of the full amount based on the number of years of NI contributions that you do have. For example, if you’ve paid 15 years of NI contributions when you claim, you’re entitled to 15/30th of the full amount – or £84.75 a week.
  • As well as the basic amount under the old system, you may get an additional amount. This is also based on your National Insurance contributions. How much you get depends on your earnings and whether you claim certain benefits.

How can I increase my State Pension?

If you're not entitled to a full State Pension, there are a few ways you may be able to boost the amount you get:

By making additional payments

You can choose to pay voluntary contributions to cover any gaps when you weren’t working or getting credits – contact the National Insurance helpline on 0300 200 3500 for more information.

By using your partner’s NI record

You may be able to claim a pension based on the contributions of your current or former spouse or civil partner.

By deferring your State Pension

You can postpone claiming your State Pension, known as ‘deferring’, and get a higher pension or a lump sum when you do claim. But it's important to bear in mind that if you’re claiming certain benefits, they may be affected if you defer.

How do I claim my State Pension?

You won’t normally receive your State Pension automatically when you reach pension age – you need to claim it. 

You should get an invitation letter from the Pension Service about 4 months before you reach the State Pension age.

If you haven't received your invitation letter with 2 months to go, call the Pension Service on 0800 731 7898.

You can then claim your pension online, over the phone or by post. You'll need to provide your National Insurance number when you make a claim and you may need to provide evidence of your date of birth.

Claiming online

You can claim your State Pension online on GOV.UK. The service is available 24/7 and is safe and secure. You can call 0800 169 0154 for help if you have any difficulty using the service.

Claiming over the phone

You can claim over the phone by calling the Pension Service claim line on 0800 731 7898. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (except public holidays).

Claiming by post

You can also claim by downloading the claim forms on GOV.UK and posting them. Claiming by post is the method that takes longest.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

Share this page

Last updated: Apr 10 2024

You might also be interested in...

The new State Pension

There were a number of changes made to the State Pension in 2016. The new State Pension is a regular payment from the...

State Pension

The State Pension is a regular payment made to you by the Government once you reach State Pension age. It's based on...

Pension Credit

If you're over State Pension age and you're struggling to make ends meet, Pension Credit could help top up your income.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top