“Parents (aged over 16) who receive Child Benefit and are caring for a child under the age of 12 receive National Insurance credits automatically. Those on Carer’s Allowance or Income Support also qualify.
These credits are known as ‘Class 3 National Insurance credits’, and build your entitlement to state pension and bereavement benefit.”
I am registered as self-employed, but I don’t work a lot of hours and don’t earn very much. When I do my self-assessment tax return, it gives me the option to pay voluntary NI contributions, but I had not thought I needed to do that. I assumed I was getting National Insurance credits because I am still receiving Child Benefit in respect of my son in full-time education.
But it turns out that even though the Child Benefit is still being paid, the National Insurance credits stopped when he turned 12. I discovered this when I used the new state pension calculator on the Government website. The calculation showed that I had not been credited with NI contributions for the last several years, and so I looked into it further.
I could now choose to pay some Additional Voluntary Contributions to increase the number of ‘qualifying years’ I have in order to gete the maximum State Pension. I would urge everyone to check their number of qualifying years and find out whether paying additional contributions is a good solution for them.
In my own case, though, I discovered something else, and it’s to do with my role as a family carer for my elderly mother.
I have deliberately not allowed myself to become her full-time carer and so I have not applied for Carers Allowance. The last time I looked at the rules for this you had to be caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week. Until recently Mum didn’t need this much care; she needed and wanted a more flexible ‘my-daughter-will-help-me’ arrangement – great for her, not so great for me, but that’s another story.
However, what I didn’t realise is that there is a thing called Carers Credit, which gives you National Insurance contributions (and therefore the chance to build up qualifying years) if you care for someone for more than 20 hours a week.
I have quickly put in my application for this, and it has been granted starting from 6 April 2015; unfortunately, I have missed out on a couple of earlier years (since Mum’s major stroke when she started receiving Attendance Allowance at the higher level), which is why I want to publicise this issue so that other daughters and sons like me can claim the National Insurance credits we are entitled to in order to protect our own future State Pension.