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The countdown is on to plug gaps in your pension

Now’s the time to check if you can boost your State Pension through a new government service, especially if you’re close to retirement age or have gaps in your career. Here’s what you need to know.


Anyone who works full-time in the UK for 35 years or more is generally on track to receive the full State Pension in their mid- to late-60s. But if you’ve ever taken time out – for example, to care for family, live overseas, build a business or even retire early – you may not have paid enough National Insurance (NI) contributions to qualify for the maximum amount.

A new online government service lets you see where you stand and top up your pension to make up for any future shortfall… but only until next April.

How to find it

Go to the ‘Check your State Pension forecast’ portal on or the HMRC app. You’ll need a ‘Government Gateway’ login to access the service, which you can sign up for if you don’t already have an account. Once in, you’ll be able to see:

  • The exact date you’ll become eligible to get the State Pension.

  • How much you can expect to receive per week, month and year based on your history of NI contributions.

  • Whether you’re on track to receive the full State Pension or if you can improve your forecast. The current maximum is £220.20 per week (£961.83 per month and £11,541.90 each year).

Your options

If the portal shows that you’ve reached the full forecast already, you can relax knowing there are no gaps to plug. Happy days!

It might show that you’re on track to receive the full amount on the condition that you continue to pay NI. If so, it will include the number of years you need to contribute for, alongside how much you’re forecast to get per week if you don’t keep paying. So if you want to stop working earlier, you may want to top up any missing years while you can.

If it states that you can improve on your forecast, you can ‘buy’ missing years of NI payments to make up the shortfall. Previously, you had to make a few phone calls to make this happen, but now you can make secure payments online.  

Clicking the link to your National Insurance record shows your history of NI payments since 2006. If any years are incomplete, you can see how much it will take to plug the gap and what that will add to your future pension. You’ll then have the option to make a ‘voluntary contribution’ online. Up until 5 April 2025, you can top up any incomplete years between 2006 to 2018 (usually there’s only a six-year window).

Who it won’t help

Unfortunately, there are some situations where you can’t boost your pension using the new online service:

  • If you’ve already started receiving your State Pension, or become eligible within four months.
  • If the gaps in your NI history are due to being self-employed or working overseas.

However, you can still potentially buy missing years over the phone – it’s a more complex process, but worth exploring if it can generate more income for you in retirement. Start by calling the Future Pension Centre on 0800 731 0175. 

What to consider

It’s important to note that buying missing years may not always increase your State Pension, so be sure to check that any voluntary contributions will actually make a difference! Also, check if you’re eligible for National Insurance credits before making any extra payments. 

For those who will benefit, especially anyone close to State Pension age, topping up now can make complete financial sense. Each missing NI year costs up to £824 to ‘fill’ and represents up to £302 in annual (pre-tax) pension payments. So, say you paid £5,000 this year to boost your future State Pension by around £2,000 a year – you’ll break even in your third year of claiming, and if you live into your mid-80s, you could enjoy an extra £40,000 of inflation-proofed retirement income! 

And if you have some years with partial NI payments, topping up the year can be a no-brainer – each missing week costs around £16, so you could potentially achieve the £302 annual pension uplift for a fraction of that amount. 

That said, the benefits aren’t always clear-cut and there may be tax implications of maxing out your pension. If you’re not sure whether it’s in your interest to make voluntary contributions, speak to your Financial Planner or give the government’s Future Pension Centre a call.  

Remember, the deadline for using the online service is 5 April 2025. After that time, the process may not be so straightforward, and you’ll only be able to plug gaps over the previous six tax years. So take a look while it’s there!

Go to to get started.

Contact us if you'd like to discuss your pension planning.

Fernanda de Gouveia