Entitlement to the Old State Pension was dependent on the number of qualifying years you accumulated over your working life.
A ‘qualifying year’ is a tax year (April to April) during which you have paid, have been treated as having paid or have been credited with enough National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to make that year qualify towards a Basic State Pension.
Since 1978 a qualifying year is one in which you have paid (or treated as having paid) contributions on earnings of at least 52 times the Lower Earnings Limit. For the year 2019-20 the lower earnings limit is £118/week so you would need to have been paying NICs on a salary of £6,136 at least.
Since 6th April 2010- 6th April 2016
From 6th April 2010 a qualifying year is any year in which your earnings factor is equal to or more than the Lower Earnings Level for that year.
How many Qualifying Years do I need?
Since 6th April 2010- 6th April 2016 the amount of qualifying years required to receive a full Basic State Pension is 30 years. If you have less than 30 years, you get a thirtieth (1/30) of the Old State Pension for each qualifying year.
More than thirty qualifying years does not mean that you will get more than the full Basic State Pension though.
Before this date, women needed 39 qualifying years and men 44 qualifying years. From 6th April 2016 men and women need 35 qualifying years.
Visit NI Direct, the Government informational website.
All the information contained on this page is for individuals who reached State Pension Age before 6th April 2016.