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Around 50,000 women and 20,000 men in their 50s and 60s are set to miss out on the new state pension between now and 2030, because they do not have the minimum number of qualifying years under new rules, according to Age UK.
The charity is concerned that many individuals do not realise they will not be eligible for the full State Pension from April 2016.
Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “Big changes are about to come in to simplify the State Pension system, yet we know that many people in their 50s and 60s are completely unaware of how they will be affected.
“There is evidence suggesting that some people in this age group are so worried about what their finances will be once they retire that they are reluctant to think about it at all, but our strong advice is to take action now to find out exactly where you stand.”
Under the current system there is no minimum qualifying period for the State Pension, which means that individuals are entitled to receive at least some State Pension, even with only a few years of National Insurance (NI) contributions.
However under the new rules, those with fewer than ten qualifying years will not receive any State Pension.
Age UK has urged all those affected – women born on or after 6 April 1953 and men born on or after 6 April 1951 – to get information to help them plan their retirements effectively.
The charity has also advised all those approaching State Pension age to order a pension statement from the Government’s Future Pension Centre to check how much they are likely to receive.
In some situations it may be possible for individuals to enhance their entitlement, for example by paying voluntary NI contributions or seeing if they are eligible (or were previously eligible) for NI credits such as the Carer’s Credit.
The full new State Pension will be £155.65 per week for people reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2016. The amount people receive will be higher or lower depending on their NI contributions.
The move to the new system aims to provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over three million receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.
Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said: “Huge efforts have been put into reforming the mind-blowingly complicated State Pension system that exists today into something that, over time, will be clearer for everybody.
“Millions stand to gain from the changes to the new State Pension, including women and the self-employed, who so often lost out in the past.
“These figures also show that over 70 per cent of people who have been contracted-out during their working lives stand to gain from the new State Pension.”
Age UK has published a new factsheet to help individuals understand what the new state pension means for them. It explains how people who have been in a ‘contracted out’ personal or workplace pension scheme – such as members of a public sector pension – are likely to see deductions for this full amount made because they were paying NI contributions at a lower rate.
It also provides impartial information on matters, including how people can increase their state pension entitlement; how they can defer the state pension to boost their income, and how their benefits could be affected by the changes.
Ms Abrahams added: “The reality is that the news will be good for some but disappointing for others, which is why it is so important for everyone approaching retirement to check their State Pension age and what they’ll receive when they reach it.
“We would urge anyone who thinks they may be affected to get an updated State Pension statement. The sooner you find out how you are affected – for better or worse – the sooner you can start making realistic plans for your retirement.”
Age UK’s factsheet can be accessed at: www.ageuk.org.uk.