How pension aware are you?

How pension aware are you and your colleagues?

Many people have no real understanding of their pensions. They’re unable to plan their long-term finances. And they may have no idea whether their State Pension and other pensions will be enough to live on. Worse still, they’re vulnerable to pension scammers ready to strip them of their retirement savings.

How much do you know about your State Pension?

How much State Pension will you get? When will you get it? And did you know that you may be able to increase yours?

Once you’ve reached State Pension age, you’ll receive your State Pension every year for the rest of your life, on top of any other pensions you’ve built up while working.

That makes the State Pension a really important part of pension awareness.

Get an up-to-date picture of your State Pension entitlement and make sure you act soon to boost your retirement income, if you can. Watch our video to find out more and answer our questions below.

How pension aware are you?

Ask yourself these questions…

Question 1: How much is the new full State Pension?

For the year from April 2023, the full new State Pension is around £10,600 per year.

You earn your State Pension by building up qualifying years on your National Insurance (NI) record. One way to add a qualifying year is to pay NI contributions on your earnings. You can also build up qualifying years in other ways, for example if you receive certain state benefits.

To qualify for a State Pension, you need at least 10 qualifying years on your NI record. And to get the full new State Pension, you need at least 35 qualifying years.

The good news is that as long as you’ve earned enough to pay some NI in a given tax year, you’ll have built up some State Pension in that tax year.

The State Pension age is currently 66 for someone reaching that age in September 2023, but it’s increasing. At the moment it’s 68 for anyone born after 6 April 1978. It may increase again in the future.

Question 2: Where can you check how much State Pension you’ll get?

There are a number of ways to get a forecast of your State Pension:

If you’re on track for the full State Pension, then in the 2023/24 tax year your forecast should show you a figure of £203.85 per week (which will then increase every year). Most people will be on target to receive this amount, or close to it. If you are not then you may be able to boost your pension – see question 3.

You can also check what your own State Pension age is here.

Question 3: How can you boost your State Pension by buying back any missing years?

If your State Pension forecast and NI record shows that you have some missing qualifying years – and you aren’t expecting to build up 35 qualifying years before you reach State Pension age – then you may want to consider boosting your State Pension.

You can do this by buying back missing years through voluntary NI contributions. But there’s a deadline. You only have until 5 April 2025 to make voluntary NI contributions for any missing NI years between 2006 and 2018.

In the 2023/24 tax year, it will cost you £824 to buy back one missing qualifying year. But bear in mind that buying back just one year can add over £300 to your State Pension every year (before tax) once you retire.

Don’t make any voluntary NI contributions until you’ve spoken to a government helpline and received your personal figures:

  • If you’ve not yet reached State Pension age, contact the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175
  • If you’ve already reached State Pension age or have delayed taking your State Pension, contact the Pension Service on 0900 731 0469.

The helpline can tell you if you have any missing NI years and exactly how much it will cost you to buy back these missing years. They will also tell you how much your annual State Pension will increase as a result. You can then decide if it’s worth it.

Question 4 – What other pension schemes am I a member of?

Your employer will be providing either a Defined Contribution or a Defined Benefit scheme.

With a Defined Contribution pension, you build up a pot of money that you can use when you’ve retired to provide lump sums of money or an income (or a combination of the two).

Your Defined Contribution pot is built up from:

  • Your own contributions to the scheme
  • Your employer’s contributions to the scheme
  • Any growth from the investments made using money from your pot.

With a Defined Benefit pension, you get a guaranteed income for the rest of your life (like the State Pension). The amount will depend on the scheme, your salary and the number of years you spend building up your pension.

Question 5 – How can I work out my total pension amount?

Any current pension scheme should give you a benefit statement every year, telling you how much money you’ve built up. If you have past pensions from previous employers then you should have been given a benefit statement when you left. If you’ve mislaid this you can always ask for another.

It’s a good idea to keep in regular contact with your pension schemes. If you haven’t heard from one for a while, ask for an up-to-date benefit statement.

You’ll need a statement from each of your pension schemes to see what you’re likely to get in retirement.

And, of course, there’s also your State Pension.

The pensions dashboards are on their way. They will give you secure online access to all your pensions – including the State Pension – in one place. This should help you keep track of all your pension arrangements as you move to new employers and leave older pensions in other schemes.

What can individuals do next?

Pensions are complicated, even for financial experts. If you’re still unsure of the answers to any of these questions, ask your employer, trade union or pension scheme for more pension information. Or get some guidance from The Money and Pensions Service.

What can employers and trade unions do next?

First Actuarial can help you improve financial wellbeing across the workforce with our financial wellbeing programmes. We help employees and trade union members make sense of their money and their pensions, so they can plan for a comfortable and worry-free retirement.

What can scheme trustees do next?

You can help your scheme members improve their pension awareness by giving them simple and clear information on a regular basis. Providing general information about pensions – and not just about your scheme – can encourage them to think about how best to plan for retirement.


Find out more about our financial wellbeing services.

Am I vulnerable to pension scammers?

Your pension savings are held securely and will only become vulnerable if you’re approached by a scammer.

The scammer will present you with an ‘opportunity’ that may involve:

  • Releasing money from your pension quickly with the promise of an attractive return, or
  • Transferring your pension to somewhere else, with the claim that this will give you more money in retirement.

As soon as they have your money, they’ll vanish without trace, and it will be almost impossible to get your money back.

The good news is that pension scammers cannot get hold of your money without your active involvement.

Watch our short video to learn how to spot a pension scammer.

Without a shadow of a doubt, people now have a better understanding of finance and their pensions. After attending a webinar or a one-to-one, people are much better informed. First Actuarial provides guidance that we wouldn’t be able to give. They’re experts in their field.

– Julie Cridland, Employee Experience Lead, Aster Group

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