What are married women’s contributions?

Until April 1977, if you were a married woman, you could choose:

If you chose to do this and you have not paid any full-rate contributions, you will not have built up any basic State Pension on your own insurance and you must rely instead on your husband’s contributions record.

Although this choice stopped in 1977, if you were a married woman who had already chosen to pay the lower rate, you have been allowed to carry on paying at the lower rate unless your circumstances have changed. However, you don’t earn a basic State Pension or get any credits or Home Responsibilities Protection while you pay the lower rate. You will be able to get a State Pension based on your husband’s contributions when you both reach State Pension age and make a claim.

You may be able to improve your State Pension position by choosing to stop paying the lower rate and opting for full-rate National Insurance contributions at any time before you reach State Pension age. You can build up entitlement to the State Second Pension on as little as one year’s full-rate contributions. For more information about the State Second Pension, see ‘Additional state pensions’. But remember that you need at least 10 years of contributions to receive any basic State Pension at all on your own contributions record.

And it is possible to build up entitlement without actually paying contributions. For example, in the 2004/05 tax year, you will not start to pay Class 1 contributions until your earnings are more than £91 a week (the primary threshold). But if you earn between the lower earnings limit (£79 a week in 2004/05) and the primary threshold, you will be treated as if you have paid contributions on those earnings. These contributions will help you build up entitlement to the basic State Pension and to other contributory benefits as well.

If you choose to keep your right to pay reduced-rate Class 1 contributions, you will also:

To help you make an informed decision, you should get your State Pension forecast. You can contact the Retirement Pension Forecasting Team on 0845 3000 168 and they will fill in an application form for you over the phone. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, a textphone service is available on 0845 3000 169. Or,you can write to the Retirement Pension Forecasting Team, The Pension Service, Whitley Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE98 1BA for a forecast application form (BR19) and a return envelope.

You can also get form BR19 from your nearest social security office or Jobcentre (details are in your phone book). Or, you can download the form from the resource centre on The Pension Service website at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk

The forecast is based on our knowledge of your current circumstances, and these could change. So your forecast will be most accurate if you are near to your State Pension age. But it is best not to put off applying for your forecast until you are close to State Pension age. That way, you will have plenty of time to make additional pension arrangements to make sure you have the lifestyle you want in retirement.

If you have looked at your forecast and you are not sure what to do for the best, you could get advice from a financial adviser. But remember, if you see an adviser you may have to pay for their advice.

You can get further information about private pensions from the Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS), your employer or your union (if you belong to one). See the directory for details about how you can contact OPAS.

Your employer may be able to give you information on occupational pensions.

If you want to know more about National Insurance contributions, you may find the following Inland Revenue leaflets helpful.

See the directory for details about how you can get copies of these leaflets.

The information within all the guides in this section has been produced by The Pension Service and is subject to Crown Copyright

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Pensions for Women - your guide
Why should I think about my pension
Women and state pensions
What else do I need to know
How else are state pensions different for women
Home responsibilities protection
Married women's contributions
State pension based on your husbands contributions
If I am widowed
What are additional state pensions
Additional state pension
Examples - low earners
What if your husband dies
What if you are not entitled to a basic state pension
More help
Where can I get more intfo on state pensions
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What other types of pension are there
What about non-state pensions
Occupational pensions
Stakeholder pensions
Personal pensions
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Married women and additional state pensions
Information about your pension
What if I get divorced
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Other publications you may find useful
Other guides in this series
A guide to your pension options (PM1)
A Guide to Your Pension Options
State Pensions - Your guide (PM2)
State Pensions
Occupational pensions - Your guide (PM3)
Occupational Pensions
Personal pensions - Your Guide (PM4)
Personal Pensions
Pensions for the Self-Employed - Your Guide (PM5)
Pensions for the Self-Employed
Pensions for Women - Your Guide (PM6)
Pensions for Women
Contracted-Out pensions - Your Guide (PM7)
Contracted-Out Pensions
Stakeholder Pensions - Your Guide (PM8)
Stakeholder Pensions
State Pensions for Carers and Parents (PM9)
State Pensions for Carers and Parents