10 million state pension forecasts viewed online since 2016 – how to check yours
An online tool which checks how much state pension you're likely to get – also known as your 'state pension forecast' – has now been used 10 million times, new figures show. Here's how to check your forecast.
The 'Check your state pension' service – set up in 2016 – tells you how much state pension you're currently expected to be able to claim, when you'll be able to claim it and how you can increase the amount you'll get (for example, by making voluntary national insurance contributions).
Who can use the service?
Anyone who is aged over 16, has a UK national insurance number and has more than 30 days until they reach state pension age can use the online service to get a pension forecast statement.
The exception is if you've worked and paid national insurance on the Isle of Man – in that case you won't be able to use the online service and will instead need to phone or write to the Future Pension Service.
If you're already getting your state pension, or you've delayed claiming it, you can't get a forecast online but can still get one by phoning the Pension Service (or, if you live abroad, by contacting the International Pension Centre).
The Department for Work and Pensions says that, as of last month, some 10 million forecasts have now been viewed online.
How to check your state pension forecast
Go to the 'Check your state pension' website. To check your forecast, you must log in using your official Government login – you'll need an account with either Government Gateway or Gov.uk Verify, an identification system which is currently being rolled out to replace Government Gateway for some services in March 2019. (If you have multiple Government Gateway or Gov.uk Verify accounts, it doesn't matter which you use to check your forecast.)
If you don't have a Government login, you can set one up as part of the process:
- To create a Government Gateway account, you must give your name, date of birth, national insurance number and email. You'll then be given a user ID and can create a password. Setting up the account takes about 10 minutes. (Government Gateway is being phased out and you won't be able to use it after March 2019 – but it may be a useful option until then to access some Government services which do rely on it.)
- To set up a Gov.uk Verify account, you'll need to choose one of seven companies –including Barclays, Experian and the Post Office (see the full list) – to check your identity. The precise process will depend on which company you choose, but you'll need to provide some personal details which the company will check against official records. It takes about 15 minutes to register, and its checks won't affect your credit score.
If you already have a Government login but have forgotten your details, you can get help:
- If you've forgotten your Government Gateway user ID or password, you can reset them by contacting the helpdesk of the Government service you originally enrolled with (eg, Child Maintenance Service, DVSA etc).
- If you've forgotten your Gov.uk Verify details, you'll need to contact the company you originally registered with directly (eg, Barclays, Post Office etc).
Once you've logged into your account, you may be asked some additional questions to verify your identity. Your pension forecast will then be calculated automatically and shown to you straight away.
What does the pension forecast show?
It's important to understand the forecast or statement you're shown is a prediction, not a guarantee.
Crucially, the tool assumes that regardless of what national insurance contributions you have made so far, from now on you WILL make qualifying national insurance contributions (whether through work, national insurance credits or voluntary contributions) for every tax year until you reach state pension age.
For example, when we checked below, it told our reporter she'd be entitled to a full state pension even though she'd only paid national insurance for one qualifying year so far:
If it's NOT likely that you'll continue to make qualifying national insurance contributions year in, year out – for instance, if you know you won't be working next year – then the forecast may not be fully accurate.
What if something's wrong?
If you're having trouble using the online service, or you think your pension statement's inaccurate, you can phone the Future Pension Centre's helpline on 0800 731 0175.
How does the state pension work?
The state pension is paid to people over the state pension age who have made national insurance contributions for a certain amount of time (usually at least 10 years).
How old you'll need to be before you can claim your state pension and how much you'll be eligible to receive will depend on several factors:
- When you were born.
- Your gender.
- How many years you've made national insurance contributions for.
- Whether you've boosted your pension, for example by delaying when you'll receive it or by making voluntary national insurance contributions.
If you're a man born on or after 6 April 1951, or a woman born on or after 6 April 1953, you'll get the new state pension, which currently pays a flat rate of up to £164.35 per week (which will be adjusted for inflation). You'll need to have paid national insurance contributions for at least 35 qualifying years to get this headline rate.
If you're a man born on or before 5 April 1951, or a woman born on or before 5 April 1953, you'll get the old state pension, which currently pays a basic rate of up to £125.95 per week plus a possible additional rate of up to £160 per week (both figures will be adjusted for inflation). To get the full basic state pension, you'll need to have paid national insurance contributions for at least 30 qualifying years.