They can help to build a person’s entitlement to state pension and other benefits. In fact, some social benefits are fundamentally dependant on the payment of sufficient National Insurance contributions.
Several factors can determine the level and type of National Insurance contribution that is payable including employment status, age, earnings and residence status.
Employees who are 16 or over earning more than £184 a week pay mandatory NI.
Depending on how often a person gets paid, it could be a weekly or monthly contribution.
Those who receive their wages through a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system have their National Insurance contributions automatically deducted from their annual salary so they don’t need to do anything.
There are four main types of National Insurance.
Those who reach state pension age stop paying Class 1 NI when they turn 66.
In addition, people don’t need to pay National Insurance contributions on any payments they get from a pension scheme, including guaranteed income from an annuity.
People who are self-employed are not required to pay Class 2 NI when they reach state pension age and Class 4 NI from 6 April (start of the tax year) after they reach state pension age.
Anyone who is self-employed and makes profits of more than £9,569 pays Class 4 National Insurance contributions.
This amounts to nine percent for those on profits between £9,569 and £50,270 and two percent for individuals making profits over £50,270.
If a person reaches state pension age and their employer is still deducting NI from their pay, they should contact the employer and provide evidence of age such as a birth certificate, passport or a certificate of age exception from the Pension Service.
In terms of paying voluntary contributions on earnings after pension age, it is not possible to do this.
However, it is permissible to pay voluntary contributions in order to avoid gaps in National Insurance contributions.
Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions are designed to fill in any gaps on a person’s NI record.
To receive the full new state pension, people need to have at least 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions for those who have reached their state pension age on or after 6 April 2016. Anyone with less than this will receive a reduced state pension.
To receive the new state pension, a person needs to have a minimum of 10 qualifying years.
If they don’t have enough qualifying years, they may want to pay Class 3 voluntary contributions in order to boost their pension entitlement.
Class 3 contributions are payable at a weekly rate of £15.40. This is the maximum that can be paid each week and rates.
Those who paid National Insurance contributions even though they were no longer required to are eligible to claim back the overpaid amounts from HMRC.
The government offers a state pension age calculator to help people work out when they will reach state pension age.