If you have a child under 12 - and you're either looking after them at home or you work but don’t earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions - Child Benefit can help you qualify for ‘credits’ for being a parent or a carer. These credits count towards your State Pension.
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Your State Pension is based on the number of 'qualifying years' you build up during your working life. A qualifying year is one when you earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions. So if you're not working, or not earning enough to pay National Insurance contributions, your pension could suffer.
For each week that you're entitled to receive Child Benefit you could qualify for weekly National Insurance credits that can protect your future entitlement to:
You can combine the weekly credits with National Insurance contributions and credits in order to build up a year of entitlement to the basic State Pension.
Your credits and contributions have to be made in the same tax year for you to combine them in this way.
You can get the credits if you're entitled to receive Child Benefit for a child under 12. This will continue until your youngest child reaches the age of 12.
You can qualify for the credits for any period during which you're entitled to receive Child Benefit.
If you have less than a full tax year’s credits, the credits that you have can be combined with other credits and National Insurance contributions to make up a qualifying year.
A tax year runs from 6 April to the following 5 April.
If you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000, you may be liable to a tax charge called the 'High Income Child Benefit charge'.
You may decide not to get Child Benefit payments, because you don't want to be liable to the tax charge. It's important to still fill in a Child Benefit claim form, even if you don’t want to get the payments. This is because if you are entitled to receive Child Benefit, you can still qualify for credits to protect your State Pension.
If you were getting Child Benefit for a child under 16 before 6 April 2010, you automatically qualified for a scheme called Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) which helped to protect your basic State Pension. This has now been replaced by the weekly National Insurance credits for parents and carers.
You won’t lose out on any protection you have already built up. If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010, any complete tax years of HRP (up to a maximum of 22 years) you have had will have been converted into full years of credits that count towards your basic State Pension.
If you received Child Benefit for a child under 6, you automatically built up entitlement to the additional State Pension.
For further information you can phone the Pension Service Helpline on 0845 606 0265 or textphone on 0800 731 7339.
You can also phone the National Insurance Helpline on 0845 302 1479 between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.