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People have been given more time to plug gaps in their National Insurance record – to ensure they can maximise their state pension entitlement.
Initially, people had until 5 April to make voluntary adjustments for gaps between 2006 and 2016, but the cut off has been extended to the end of July.
The original deadline had led to blocked phone lines.
In general, people need 35 years of qualifying contributions to get the full state pension.
‘Surge’ in calls
Some people may have spaces in their National Insurance record, for example if they have lived abroad or taken time off for caring responsibilities.
Top-ups have been permitted, as part of the transition to the flat-rate state pension which was introduced in 2016.
But blocked phone lines to HM Revenue and Customs left some worried they would miss the April deadline, and led to the latest extension which the government said was to ensure nobody would miss out.
“HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions have experienced a recent surge in customer contact,” said financial secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins.
“We’ve listened to concerned members of the public and have acted. We recognise how important state pensions are for retired individuals, which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their national insurance record to help bolster their entitlement.”
Check your circumstances
Pensions experts say that extra contributions may not suit every individual in these circumstances, so it is important to check whether it is worthwhile for their finances.
Anyone can look on their personal tax account to view their National Insurance record and obtain a state pension forecast without charge to decide if making a voluntary contribution is a good decision for them.
Sir Steve Webb, a former Liberal Democrat pensions minister who is now a partner at consultants LCP, said: “For most people, paying voluntary National Insurance contributions to deal with a shortfall in their state pension makes excellent financial sense.
“But it is also important to make sure that extra contributions are right in your individual case as sometimes additional contributions may not boost your pension.”
Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It is vital that you check before handing over any money as you may be able to plug these gaps in a different way – by backdating a benefit claim for instance.”