An agency employs me as a supply teacher. During lockdown the agency paid me furlough pay, about £70 per week.

While I attempted to log on to claim my state pension credits (anticipating lags), the DWP closed my claim when I tried online.

The contribution-based benefits did not apply to me. But, because I couldn’t contact anybody on the telephone, and that job centres were closed for me, I couldn’t tell them I simply wanted to claim state pension credits.

Retirement planning: Can I get a state pension credit for when I couldn’t work during Covid?

How can I plan for my retirement?

Online, I found that my National Insurance contributions for this year are not complete. I am required to pay £300-plus if I want this year to count towards my state pension.

Are there ways to get credits for this year already?


Steve Webb replies: You can find your experience in my last column explaining the value of checking your online National Insurance record. 

A gap in your records has been identified almost immediately and you are now better equipped to address it than if it had been there for years.

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: How to ask former Pensions Minister questions about retirement savings.

Problem is, when you claim universal credit or child benefits, you don’t just get any benefit that you already have.

Additionally, your National Insurance record could be enriched by these ‘credits.

Your NI record is a key factor in your state pension or other benefits, such as the widower or widower benefit or the widower’s death benefit. It is therefore important that you ensure you receive the credits regardless of whether you are entitled to them.

Your NI file at the time of your claim was not complete. This means you wouldn’t have received a regular contribution-based Jobseekers allowance.

You can still be eligible for credits if you meet the requirements regarding looking for work, such as claiming universal credit for low income. Or simply register with the Jobcentre and say that you are unemployed looking for work.

It is important that you recognize the issue quickly so you can address it.

You tried to register online. However, the system rejected you because you weren’t eligible for a contributory benefits. Also, the Jobcentres had closed and you couldn’t register as an unemployed.

Your appeal will be considered by the DWP in an internal process called’mandatory reconsideration.

Are you a non-signer for state pension credit or have you filled out the wrong form? 

Find out what to do if you didn’t claim because your family doesn’t qualify for child benefit payments here. 

Learn how to get child benefits if your partner is claiming the wrong amount. 

If it fails, the case would be referred to an independent tribunal.

Normally appeals are subject to a deadline. However, as you have just discovered the issue and have acted quickly, it is possible that any tribunal will allow you to appeal what could otherwise be considered late.

In my column on National Insurance Records, I explained that a gap within your NI record does not always indicate a problem.

For your state pension, you can expect to accumulate 35 years worth of credits or contributions by the time that you turn 65.

However, if this gap can be closed at no charge then it should be done.

I would like to add that rules governing National Insurance credit for beneficiaries have been changed significantly in the recent years with universal credit.

It can be difficult to find accurate information about the rules so I contacted DWP for an update. The key points they highlighted were:

You automatically receive what is known as ‘Class 3 credits’ when you claim universal credit as an individual, or in a couple. These credits count toward your state pension entitlement.

– You can make a claim for the new, contributions-based Jobseekers Allowance(JSA), or Employment Support Allowance(ESA) and you will get what is called “Class 1” credits. This credit helps you not only to receive your state pension but also to future access to other benefits.

– Even if you don’t qualify for a contributiony benefit or UC, you still have the option to sign up at a JobCentre. You can also register as an unemployed person and get Class 3 credits towards your retirement.

Registering with the system is therefore the most important thing.

If you are unemployed or unable to work through sickness and do not make any contact with the benefits authorities – perhaps because you think you might not be entitled to any cash support – then you risk missing out credits which could cause you a problem with your state pension at a later date.

The DWP routinely rejects claims by people who don’t qualify for contributing benefits but does not signpost people to other avenues to obtain NI credits. This could lead to serious consequences for long-term NI records.

Readers who had similar experiences would be most welcome to share their stories. Write to Put it in NI CreditsPlease include the subject.

Ask Steve Webb a pension question

Steve Webb, a former Minister for Pensions is this Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He’s available to answer any questions you may have about your financial situation, including whether it is stopping working, saving for retirement, or managing your finances during retirement.

After the May 2015 elections, Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at

Steve will respond to all messages in his column. He won’t always be able answer every question or to correspond with each reader. His replies do not constitute regulated financial advice. Sometimes, published questions may be edited to reduce length or for other reasons.

Include a contact phone number for a day. This will not be used to market.

You can contact MoneyHelper, an organisation that is funded by the Government and offers free help with pensions. It can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. Steve will respond to your question if you write to him about this topic. Here. You will find links to Steve’s previous columns regarding state pension forecasts or contracting out.  

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