The short, 18-month period for making Class 3A voluntary contributions to top up the State Pension has commenced and will close on 5 April 2017.
From 6 April 2016 a single tier, flat-rate pension will be introduced for people who reach State Pension age from that date. Class 3A is designed to help people who have not been able to build up much State Pension before the single tier pension is introduced.
Existing pensioners and those reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 can improve their retirement income by purchasing extra State Pension up to a maximum of £25 per week.
Illustrations of the cost for different ages can be found at www.gov.uk/state-pension-topup. As an example, the cost for a person aged 65 to receive an additional £5 pension a week would be £4,450. Prices are lower for older pensioners because they are more likely to have a shorter life at retirement.
Class 3A is not a replacement for Class 3 Voluntary NI contributions, whereby workers can fill certain gaps in their contribution records. The government advises pensioners to make sure they have full entitlement to the basic payment before purchasing the top-up.