Understand national insurance credits and what you are entitled to so you can take the right steps to keep your national insurance record up to date and protect your ability to claim state benefits in full, including the state pension.
Friendly Disclaimer: Whilst I am an accountant, I’m not your accountant. The information in this article is legally correct but it is for guidance and information purposes only. Everyone’s situation is different and unique so you’ll need to use your own best judgement when applying the advice that I give to your situation. If you are unsure or have a question be sure to contact a qualified professional because mistakes can result in penalties.
What are National Insurance Credits?
National insurance credits help you to avoid having gaps in your national insurance records if you are unable to work for certain reasons and cannot pay your Class 1 or Class 2 national insurance contributions.
When you are employed or self-employed you pay national insurance on your earnings which helps you qualify for state benefits such as the state pension, maternity allowance and jobseekers allowance.
DID YOU KNOW
You don’t get national insurance credits if you’re self-employed and should pay class 2 national insurance, even if you are below the tax-free threshold.
Under the Governments pension rules, you can only claim the new state pension in full if you have made 35 qualifying years* of national insurance contributions, either through class 1 or class 2 NICs. You must have paid NICs for at least 10 qualifying years to make it claim at all.
*a qualifying year means a tax year
But if you aren’t able to work, you won’t be able to contribute and could face gaps in your record. To help, national insurance credits fill those gaps when you can’t contribute.
Who is Eligible for National Insurance Credits?
You’re eligible to receive NI credits in certain circumstances including if you’re on:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance and not in education or working 16 hours or more a week
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Have been wrongly imprisoned and your conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal (or the Court of Criminal Appeal in Scotland)
Take a look on the .GOV website for a complete list of circumstances and benefits which give national insurance credits
How Do I Know If I’m Getting National Insurance Credits?
You can check if you getting your NI credits by looking at your national insurance record, which you’ll find in your personal tax account. Alternatively, you can call the helpline on 0300 200 3500 to discuss your situation.