Recently, we reported how the government extended its state pension top-up deadline. You now have until 5th April 2025 to make voluntary National Insurance contributions for any ‘partial’ or ‘missing’ years, stretching back to 2006. It costs £824 to ‘buy’ a missed year, but it can be worth it. If you don’t have the 35 years of NI contributions needed for a full state pension, each year you buy can add £275 to your annual pension.

The extended deadline gives many people a valuable opportunity to ensure they get a full state pension, or at least a higher one. When the deadline passes, you’ll only be able to ‘buy’ back a year if it is within the most recent six years. However, the current process of making voluntary National Insurance contributions is far from simple.

How do I currently make voluntary NI contributions?

If you want to top up your pension at the moment, you have to jump through quite a few hoops.

Firstly, you need to login to your Government Gateway account to check your National Insurance record online.

Next you need to get advice from either the Pension Service or the Future Pension Centre. Either of these services can talk you through your options on the phone. Whether it’s worth topping up your pension with voluntary NI contributions will depend on factors such as your age and health. Also, if a higher state pension pushes you into a higher tax bracket, it may not be a good idea.

Finally, you need to get in touch with HMRC. You’ll then get an 18-digit payment number which will allow you to make the voluntary National Insurance contributions.

Problems contacting HMRC

The original deadline for topping-up your pension by buying years back to 2006 was April 2023. The government then extended this to 31st July 2023. When this happened, thousands of people tried to contact HMRC, with huge numbers not being able to get through. This was one of the main reasons the government pushed back the deadline still further to April 2025.

A new online service for NI contributions

HMRC is currently working on a new online service, which it aims to launch before the end of this financial year on 5th April 2024.

The service will effectively be a one-stop shop for checking your state pension and making voluntary National Insurance contributions. When you log in, you’ll be given information about any years that have NI shortfalls. This will help you choose the cheapest or most beneficial years to top up. Conveniently, if you decide to ‘buy’ one or more years, you’ll be able to do it online instead of trying to get through on a busy helpline.

Can I still make NI contributions by phone?

If you want to top up your pension, you can still contact HMRC by phone. However, be prepared for a frustrating experience. If you need to top-up your pension urgently (for example, because you are retiring very soon), it will be worth the hassle. On the other hand, if you’re not in a hurry, it might make your life simpler to wait for the new service to go online. As long as you do it before 5th April 2025, you’ll still be able to buy back any years stretching back to 2006.

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About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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