What National Insurance do I pay after retirement?

Updated on 14 July 2019

Pensioners

You pay National Insurance contributions (NIC) to build up your entitlement to certain state benefits, including the state pension. On this page, we look at what happens to your NIC payments once you reach state pension age.

You pay NIC on ‘earned income’, that is, income from an employment or from self-employment, provided you earn more than a certain level. If you want general information about NIC and how it works, go to the tax basics section.

If you want information on how to get a National Insurance number (NINO) or what to do if you have lost or forgotten your NINO, visit our National Insurance number page.

Who pays NIC?

You pay National Insurance contributions (NIC) between the ages of 16 and state pension age on your earnings (including employment income and profits from self-employment), but not on pension income.

You can use the state pension age calculator on GOV.UK to work out when you will reach your state pension age.

We set out the rules in the rest of this section for when you can stop paying each type of NIC. If you stop working when you reach state pension age, you will not have any earned income, and you will not have to pay NIC.

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What Class 1 NIC do I pay after state pension age?

If you are an employee, you normally pay Class 1 NIC.

As soon as you reach state pension age, you stop paying Class 1 NIC if you carry on working as an employee. You only have to pay them on any earnings that were due to be paid to you before you reached state pension age.

If you stay in employment after state pension age, you can show your employer proof of your age (birth certificate or passport) so that they stop taking NIC from your wages. If you would rather not show those documents to your employer, you can write to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ask them for a letter to show your employer instead. See GOV.UK for details of how to do this.

Note – your employer still has to pay Class 1 employer NIC and although this amount may appear on your payslip, it is not a deduction from your pay.

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What Class 2 NIC do I pay after state pension age?

If you are self-employed you normally pay Class 2 NIC.

As soon as you reach state pension age, you stop paying Class 2 NIC if you carry on working. You only have to pay them on any earnings that were due to be paid to you before you reached state pension age.

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What Class 3 NIC do I pay after state pension age?

Class 3 NIC are voluntary NIC that you might pay to improve your state pension, for example, if you are not paying compulsory contributions through work, nor are you receiving NI credits. You can read more about Class 3 NIC in our tax basics section and more about NI credits on GOV.UK. Make sure you will benefit from paying them before doing so.

You can pay Class 3 NIC for any tax year when you are aged between 16 years old and state pension age provided that you were resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland for the year in question.

Normally you have six years from the end of the relevant tax year in which to pay Class 3 NIC although if you pay them more than two years after the end of the relevant tax year, you may have to pay them at a higher rate.

In some limited situations, you can pay for gaps from more than six years ago:

  • You have six years after you reach state pension age to pay Class 3 NIC, if you are a:
    • Man born between 6 April 1945 and 5 April 1950;
    • Woman born between 6 April 1950 and 5 October 1952.
  • You have until 5 April 2023 to pay Class 3 NIC, for gaps in contributions between April 2006 and April 2016, if you are a:
    • Man born after 5 April 1951;
    • Woman born after 5 April 1953.

You should look at the guidance on GOV.UK if you think either of these situations applies to you.

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What Class 4 NIC do I pay after state pension age?

If you are self-employed you might also pay Class 4 NIC. Whether or not you have to pay Class 4 NIC depends on your level of self-employment profits.

Class 4 NIC are an annual charge. This means you might still have to pay them on any taxable profits for the tax year in which you reach state pension age. You will be exempt from payment of Class 4 NIC from the beginning of the following tax year.

In other words, you stop paying Class 4 NIC from the start of the tax year after the one in which you reach state pension age.

For example, Bill reaches state pension age on 1 January 2020. His self-employed accounts year end is 5 April. This means that he will pay Class 4 NIC on his profits for the year to 5 April 2020 (tax year 2019/20), but will not pay them on any profits for the year beginning 6 April 2020 (tax year 2020/21). 

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What do I do if I think I have overpaid NIC?

You might find that you overpay NIC in certain circumstances, including if you continue to pay NIC once you have reached your state pension age. If you think this might apply to you look at our tax basics section for more information.

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Where can I find more information?

HMRC’s National Insurance Manual contains more detailed information on NIC. GOV.UK gives information on the interaction of paying NIC and state retirement age.

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