National Insurance Credits

Our experts tell you all about National Insurance credits and whether you are entitled to claim them

Our experts at DSR Tax Claims know how hard it is to find good, quality information about HMRC’s National Insurance rules and regulations that is easy to understand, and that’s why we have created these handy guides to tell you everything you need to know. Our aim is to make life easier for our clients and that is why we want to share our expertise with you. You can also call our friendly team on 0330 122 9972 – we’re the tax experts you can trust.

What are National Insurance Credits?

If you don’t pay enough National Insurance, you might be eligible to claim National Insurance credits so that you don’t have any gaps in your National Insurance record. Gaps in your National Insurance record can affect your eligibility for certain benefits, including your State Pension, so it is really important to protect your National Insurance record if possible. Under certain circumstances, for example if you are unable to work due to illness or unemployment, you might be able to claim National Insurance credits to fill in any gaps in your record.

If you are eligible for National Insurance credits, you will either be awarded them automatically or you will have to apply to HMRC for them. There are two types of National Insurance credits, which are:

  • Class 1: these credits count towards your State Pension, as well as a range of other benefits. These are: bereavement benefits, contribution-based unemployment benefits as well as maternity allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

  • Class 3: these credits only count towards your State Pension and no other kind of benefit.

You can check whether you have been awarded any credits by checking your National Insurance record. It’s a good idea to check this record occasionally from time to time to make sure that all is correct and as expected – if you discover any errors, make sure you contact the National Insurance helpline to get them corrected (telephone: 0330 200 3500/ textphone: 0300 200 3519).

Are you eligible for these credits?

Whether you are eligible to claim National Insurance credits all depends on your personal situation. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • If you are unemployed and looking for work: if you receive Jobseeker’s Allowance and aren’t in education or working more than 16 hours a week, you will automatically receive Class 1 National Insurance credits. If you don’t receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will need to contact your local Jobcentre to claim these credits.

  • If you are ill, disabled or on sick pay: if you are on Employment and Support Allowance or Unemployability Supplement or Allowance, you will automatically receive Class 1 credits. If you don’t receive Employment and Support Allowance but you meet the conditions for it, contact your local Jobcentre to claim these credits. If you are on Statutory Sick Pay and you don’t earn enough to make a qualifying year on your National Insurance record, you can write to HMRC and apply for the credits – don’t forget to include your National Insurance number and explain why you are eligible for the credits.

  • If you are on maternity, paternity or adoption pay: if you are on Maternity Allowance, you will automatically receive Class 1 National Insurance credits. If you are on Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption pay or Additional Statutory Paternity pay and you don’t earn enough to make a qualifying year on your National Insurance record, you can write to HMRC and apply for the credits – don’t forget to include your National Insurance number and explain why you are eligible for the credits.

  • If you are a carer and you receive Carer’s Allowance, you get Class 1 credits automatically. If you are on Income Support but provide what HMRC call “regular and substantial” care you get Class 3 credits automatically. If you are caring for one or more sick or disabled person for at least 20 hours a week you can apply for Class 3 credits, even if you aren’t receiving Carer’s Allowance or Income Support.

  • If you are a family member between the ages of 16 and the State Pension age, who cares for a child under 12 (perhaps because the parent or main carer is working), you can apply for Specified Adult Childcare Class 3 credits, from 6th April 2011.

  • If you are on Working Tax Credit, you get Class 3 credits automatically. If you also get a disability premium to your Working Tax Credits, you will get Class 1 credits automatically instead.

  • If you receive Universal Credit, you get Class 3 credits automatically.

  • If you are a man approaching 65 and you meet certain circumstances, you will get Class 1 credits automatically. You need to be between the current State Pension age for women and 65, live in the UK for at least 183 days a year and you either don’t work, don’t earn enough to make a qualifying year or you are self-employed and you have a small earnings exception.

  • If you are over 18 and you are on a government-approved training course lasting no longer than 1 year, you are entitled to Class 1 credits. You will receive them automatically if Jobcentre Plus sent you on the course, otherwise you will need to write to HMRC to apply for them. Remember to include your National Insurance number and explain when the credits are for and why you are eligible.

  • If you are on jury service and you are not self-employed, you can apply for Class 1 credits. You will need to write to HMRC with your details (including National Insurance number) and explain why you are eligible for the credits and when they apply to.

  • If you are the partner of someone in the armed forces (either married or in a civil partnership) and you accompanied them on an overseas posting after 6th April 2010, you can apply for Class 1 credits. If you went on an overseas posting after 6th April 1975 and reach State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 and you don’t already receive Class 1 credits you can apply for Class 3 credits.

  • If you were wrongly imprisoned and your conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal you can apply for Class 1 credits by writing to HMRC. Remember to include your details (including National Insurance number) and explain why you are eligible for these credits and when they apply to.

If you are a parent or a foster carer, your situation changes after 6th April 2010.

  • On or after 6th April 2010: if you’re a parent registered for Child Benefit for a child under 12, you automatically receive Class 3 credits, even if you don’t actually receive the Child Benefit – you just have to be registered for it. You can also apply to transfer credits from a spouse or partner who receives them if that suits your family circumstances better. If you are a foster carer or kinship carer (in Scotland) you can also apply for Class 3 credits. You apply to HMRC either online or through the post.

  • Before 6th April 2010: prior to the changes in 6th April 2010, National Insurance credits were referred to as Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) and you would usually get HRP automatically for a child under 16. If you didn’t get this automatically, or you want to transfer these as you can with National Insurance credits, you can apply to HMRC in a similar way as for National Insurance credits. Similarly, if you were a foster carer (or kinship carer in Scotland) between 6th April 2003 and 5th April 2010, you can apply for HRP. As with after 6th April 2010, you would receive Class 3 National Insurance credits.

When can’t you get National Insurance Credits?

You won’t usually get National Insurance credits if you are self-employed and need to pay Class 2 National Insurance.

If you are a married woman and you pay a reduced rate of National Insurance, you won’t usually be eligible to claim National Insurance credits. There are a few exceptions to this, for example if you are a widow or you get Child Benefit for a child under 12, but opting into the reduced rate of National Insurance (as you were allowed to do as a married woman until April 1977) means that you aren’t entitled to the full range of benefits based on National Insurance contributions.

How can DSR Tax Claims help?

We know that working out whether you can claim National Insurance credits can be a complicated affair, even with our helpful guide to tell you everything you might need to know. It’s all very well reading about it and knowing what HMRC’s stand on it is – but how do you apply that to your own circumstances? It can seem like an absolute minefield but help is always available and you don’t need to battle through this alone. Our team of experts at DSR Tax Claims are always on hand to help our clients and our excellent standing with HMRC means that we can make sure you don’t fall foul of their regulations, while claiming your maximum tax relief. We can even take care of all that paperwork and deal with HMRC on your behalf too. Call our friendly team on 0330 122 9972 – we’re the tax experts you can trust.

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