National Insurance and state benefits

Paying National Insurance contributions builds up your entitlement to certain state benefits. Different types of contribution count towards different types of benefit - however, some benefits aren't linked to National Insurance contributions at all. The lists below will help you check which benefits depend on your contributions and which don't.

On this page:

State benefits linked to your National Insurance contributions

State benefits that are linked to your National Insurance contributions are known as 'contributory benefits'.

The contributory benefits

National Insurance contributions count towards the following state benefits:

  • the basic State Pension
  • the additional State Pension, sometimes called the State Second Pension
  • Jobseeker's Allowance - the 'contribution-based' element
  • Employment and Support Allowance - the 'contribution-based' element
  • Maternity Allowance
  • bereavement benefits - Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit

You can find out more about each of the above benefits on the GOV.UK website, including how to claim.

More about state benefits and financial support (Opens new window)

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Different classes of National Insurance contributions

Whether or not you can claim contributory benefits - and the amount you will get - depends partly on the:

  • type of National Insurance contributions you've paid (see the table below)
  • amount of National Insurance contributions you've paid or been credited with

National Insurance contribution classes and what they pay for

Benefit Class 1 - paid by employees Class 2 - paid by self-employed people Class 3 - paid by people who want to top up their contributions
Basic State Pension Yes Yes Yes
Additional State Pension Yes No No
Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance Yes No (except for share fishermen and volunteer development workers employed abroad) No
Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance Yes Yes No
Maternity Allowance Yes Yes No
Bereavement benefits Yes Yes Yes

Class 4 National Insurance contributions - paid by some self-employed people - don't count towards any state benefits.

Class 1A and Class 1B contributions - paid by employers only - don't count towards any state benefits.

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Effect of National Insurance contributions on state benefits - examples

Example 1 - self-employed person paying Class 2 contributions

Tom ran his own building business and paid Class 2 (and Class 4) National Insurance contributions. During his lifetime he paid enough in National Insurance contributions to get the full basic State Pension when he retired. But because he was self-employed he didn't pay any Class 1 contributions. So he couldn't claim the additional State Pension. Instead, Tom paid into a personal pension plan.

Example 2 - employee who gives up work

Marta worked as an accountant but gave up working for several years. She had paid Class 1 contributions when she was working, and wanted to make sure she would have paid enough for a full basic State Pension when she retired. So she chose to pay Class 3 contributions while she wasn't working to protect her pension entitlement. Follow the first link below to find out how many qualifying years you need to get a full basic State Pension.

Example 3 - employee who works all his life

Bleddyn was employed as a groundsman all his working life. He paid enough Class 1 contributions during this time to get a full basic State Pension plus the additional State Pension when he retired.

Do you need to top up your National Insurance contributions?

More about tax and National Insurance when you're employed

More about tax and National Insurance when you're self-employed

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State benefits not linked to your National Insurance contributions

Some state benefits aren't linked to your National Insurance contributions. These are known as 'non-contributory benefits'. You can be eligible for these benefits whether or not you've paid (or been credited with) any National Insurance contributions.

Some of the state benefits you can get even if you haven't paid any National Insurance contributions include:

  • Child Benefit
  • Guardian's Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance - the 'income-based' element
  • Employment and Support Allowance - the 'income-related' element
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
  • Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • War Widow's or Widower's Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

You can find out more about these and other non-contributory benefits on the GOV.UK website including how to claim by following the link below.

More about state benefits and financial support (Opens new window)

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National Insurance credits and state benefits

You can sometimes get National Insurance credits paid for you towards your contributions record. National Insurance Credits can help protect your entitlement to the basic State Pension and certain other benefits.

For example, you may be able to get National Insurance credits to cover periods when you can't work - perhaps because you're sick - or when you're unemployed.

You can find out more in our guide on National Insurance credits.

Getting credits towards your National Insurance contributions record

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What to do if you're refused a contributory benefit

When you apply for a contributory benefit you may not get it if you don't seem to have paid enough National Insurance contributions.

If this happens you can ask your Jobcentre Plus office (Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office in Northern Ireland) to look again at the decision.

It's often helpful to check your National Insurance 'statement of account'. This will show you how much you've:

  • paid in National Insurance contributions each year
  • received in National Insurance credits each year

Find out how to get a statement of account by following the first link below.

Checking your National Insurance contributions record

How to appeal against a benefits decision (Opens new window)

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More useful links

Taxable and non-taxable income at a glance

Find out about reduced National Insurance rates paid by some married women

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