Speed up your application to make up National Insurance contributions overseas

There’s such a backlog at the Pensions Office that anything you can do to speed up the approval process faster and make up National Insurance contributions from overseas is a good thing.

Why make up UK National Insurance contributions at all?

Because then you’ll qualify for all or part of the UK full state pension which is currently £203.85 per week. That’s free money when you reach state retirement age and it doesn’t matter where you live now, or have lived in the past, or will live when you retire at 67.

As long as you’ve lived in the UK for 3 consecutive years at some point in your life and were working there before you left/will leave the UK, you can probably make up your National Insurance contributions by paying only Class 2 contributions.

That means paying only £163.80 for each year you want to make up, yet still qualifying for the full state pension as long as you have 35 fully paid-up years by the time you retire. If you’ve got more than 10 but less than 35, you’ll qualify for part of the pension accordingly. Still not bad!

If you don’t satisfy the criteria for paying Class 2 only, for example if you’re living abroad but not working there or weren’t working in the UK prior to leaving, you can still make up contributions but you’ll have to pay more (currently £824 per year, due to go up to over £900).

HOWEVER, whether you qualify to pay Class 2 only, or Class 2 and 3 together, it’s still worth doing for most people as the full state pension will amount to over £10,000 annually.

For more detailed information on why/how/who this whole thing about making up National Insurance contributions applies to, read my full blog post. And/or download the free pdf to walk you through the steps.

Think this deal doesn’t apply to you?

You’re probably wrong!

Since I started writing about making up National Insurance contributions overseas, lots of people have told me they didn’t live in the UK long enough or didn’t have the right kind of job to have any qualifiying years.

But trust me, even your part-time Saturday job counted and, depending on when you were born, some people got a free bonus year of contributions for attending higher education. I’ve yet to meet anyone who told me they didn’t have any qualifying years who was actually right when they let me badger them into checking their NI record (full info into how to do that in the pdf by the way!). In addition, there are other things that might have been counted towards your qualifying years, such as claiming benefits or having caring responsibilities.

The only other reason this may not apply to you is if you’re older than 72 as, at some point the New State Pension kicked in and you may still be on the Old State Pension and may not be able to back pay. I’d still call the Pension Office and check if I were you though! International Pension Office info here.

So how can I speed up the application process?

When you fill out the form to apply to make up National Insurance contributions from abroad, give them as much information and proof as you can of the fact you’ve been/are/were WORKING overseas during the time you’re claiming overseas status.

On a separate piece of paper if necessary, list dates and employers and provide any evidence you can. The ideal would be proof of income tax and/or social security payments record. You might be able to get a record of your social security contributions or end of year tax declarations from countries you’ve lived in for example. Or wage slips from previous jobs.

Even if your records are patchy, list the details you can anyway because you never know. The Pensions office has been snowed under with people wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to make up the 16 previous years so who knows how strict their checks are?

Also, even if you’ve been back and forth to the UK doing short-term summer work, for example, as long as you were resident and tax paying in another country and clearly not “moved back”, it won’t affect your eligibility to pay only Class 2 contributions.

At least, this is what they told me on the phone this summer when I called, waiting about 20 minutes to speak to someone. Plus, you might find you already paid for those years with that summer work as you don’t have to do a full 52 weeks of UK-based work to make that particular year count towards your state pension.

In any case, providing this information might mean they don’t have to write back to you to ask for documentation which will, therefore, speed up your application.

You can currently make up the last 16 years of National Insurance contributions

That’s almost half your 35 qualifying years paid for. If you’ve already got some under your belt, you’ll be well on the way to reaching the full state pension when you retire. And even if you’ve already retired you can bump it up by backpaying missing years.

You have until April 5, 2025 to pay the missing 16 years. After that, you’ll only be able to pay the last 6 years which has always been the amount you can go back and pay.

But why wait? Inflation means paying for missing years will only get more expensive. Plus, if you’re missing a lot of years, if you wait, you’ll lose one of those 16 by the end of the 2024 tax year.

This is the single most productive thing you could add to your To-do list so sign up to get the pdf, go back and read the original blog post and then start this cash-generating admin task ASAP.

Get the pdf

While you’re at it, the state pension is great, but it’s not enough to live on.

Find out how to secure your future with other pensions by taking my course to teach you all you need to know.

Free Money for Future You, aka a pension, is the best thing you can do for yourself.

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