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You pay National Insurance contributions throughout your working life. They build up your entitlement to the State Pension and to certain social security benefits. The type and level of contributions you pay depends on how much you earn and whether you're employed or self-employed. You stop paying them when you reach State Pension age.
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If you work - either as an employee or self-employed - and your earnings are over a certain level you pay National Insurance contributions. You pay them from age 16 until you reach State Pension age.
If you're employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions as a percentage of your earnings. If you're self-employed you pay Class 2 contributions at a flat weekly rate and Class 4 contributions annually, as a percentage of your taxable profits.
State Pension age is the earliest age you can get your State Pension and depends on your date of birth. State Pension age is rising to keep pace with increases in life expectancy. To find your State Pension age use the link below.
Once you're over State Pension age you don't have to pay Class 1 or Class 2 National Insurance contributions. If you carry on working you'll only have to pay them on any earnings that were due to be paid to you before you reached State Pension age.
If you stay in employment after State Pension age you'll need to provide your employer with proof that you've reached this age. This will allow your employer to stop deducting National Insurance contributions from your earnings. You can do this by showing them any of the following:
If you stay in self-employment after you reach State Pension age you may still have to pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions. They're an annual charge and you may still have to pay them on any taxable profits for the year in which you reach State Pension age. You won't have to pay them from the beginning of the following tax year.
The Pension Service issue a pack to customers approaching State Pension age giving information on age exception. If you tell them that you're carrying on working when you claim your State Pension, a certificate of age exception will be sent automatically. If you don't get a certificate, for example, if you put off claiming State Pension, you can give your employer other evidence of your date of birth. This can be:
If you still want a certificate ask HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to send an age exception certificate to you - see the first link below
A certificate of age exception can be on card or paper. Both are equally acceptable as proof of age.
You might find you've overpaid National Insurance contributions in certain situations. For example:
If you think you may have overpaid read the separate guide below on how to claim back overpaid National Insurance contributions.