Make the most of the Basic State Pension
1. The Basic State Pension is the first layer of income you get from the government when you retire. On current rates (for the 2009/10 tax year) it provides a maximum weekly income of £95.25 for a single person or £152.30 for couples. You'll only qualify for the maximum amount if you have paid enough national insurance (NI) contributions during your working life.
2. To find out how much of the basic state pension you’re entitled to, get a State Pension forecast. If you’re more than four months away from retirement you can get a forecast online from The Pension Service.
3. You might find you don’t qualify for the full Basic State Pension if there are gaps in your NI record. But don’t panic because you can make up the shortfall by buying missing years with voluntary NI contributions. Find out how to do that by reading Top up your State pension today and save £1,232.
4. You'll also need to think about when to take your basic state pension. You won't be entitled to start receiving any income until you reach normal retirement age. Normal retirement age is set to rise over the coming years but it is currently 65 for men and 60 for women. However, by delaying when you take the state pension, you could receive a significantly higher income.
To find out more, take a look at Boost your pension by 52%!
5. On top of the Basic State Pension you may qualify for a host of other benefits when you retire depending on how much income you have. Extra cash for pensioners is available to cover the cost of heating, travel, health, TV licensing, as well as Pension Credit which can be a welcome boost to your State pension for low income pensioners.
Read Pension credits: what are they and are they any good for the full lowdown. Don't forget, the level of pension credit you could receive is uprated every year.