The National Insurance (NI) system plays a pivotal role in determining an individual’s eligibility for certain state benefits, including the State Pension.
However, there are instances where individuals, particularly those who take time off work for caregiving responsibilities, might find gaps in their NI records.
This is where Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) comes into play.
What is Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP)?
Introduced in 1978 and since replaced by National Insurance credits in 2010, the HRP was designed to protect the State Pension entitlement of individuals who were not working and therefore not making NI contributions because they were taking care of children under 16 or disabled individuals.
It ensured that these caregiving years were not counted as ‘gaps’ in their NI record, which could potentially reduce their State Pension amount.
How does HRP affect the State Pension?
The State Pension amount an individual receives is based on their NI record. To qualify for the full State Pension, one needs a certain number of qualifying years on their NI record.
HRP helps by reducing the number of years required. So, if you took time off work for caregiving responsibilities, HRP ensures that these years do not negatively impact your State Pension entitlement.
Checking your NI record
It is crucial to regularly check your NI record to ensure all your contributions and credits are correctly recorded.
The easiest way to check your NI record is through the online service provided by the Government. Once you log in, you can view your NI contributions and any gaps in your record. This can also be done by post or by phone.
Correcting missing years
If you discover gaps in your NI record, it’s essential to address them promptly. You might be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill these gaps, or if you were not working because of caregiving responsibilities during a particular year, ensure that you received HRP credits for that year. If not, you can apply for them.
If there are discrepancies in your record, contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
In June 2023, the Government announced that taxpayers now have until 5 April 2025 to fill gaps in their National Insurance record from April 2006 that may increase their State Pension – an extension of nearly two years.
Regularly checking your NI record and addressing any gaps ensures that you receive the State Pension amount you’re entitled to.
Whether you’re approaching retirement age or just starting your career, it’s never too early or too late to understand and manage your NI contributions. Contact us today for advice.