You can currently claim your state pension when you’re 66. However, this isn’t a scheme you technically contribute towards as you would a personal or workplace pension. You earn your entitlement to receive benefits through National Insurance Contributions. Each year of your working life you pay them is called a ‘qualifying year’.
What makes a year ‘qualifying’?
There are different criteria that you can meet to make a year count towards your State Pension:
You were employed and earning over £183 a week (2020/21) from one employer
You were employed and earning between £120 and £183 a week (2020/21) from one employer and are treated as having paid National Insurance Contributions
You’re self-employed and paying National Insurance Contributions
You make voluntary National Insurance contributions
You receive National Insurance credits, for example if you claim Child Benefit for a child under 12 or claim Jobseekers allowance, Employment and Support allowance or a Careers allowance.