Important letter from HMRC about underpayment of State Pension for those who took time off work to care for a family member between 1978 and 2010
If you receive a letter from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the post, DON’T bin it. It’s not a scam, and it could help you boost your pension by £10,000s.
HMRC has started writing to 100,000s of people who may be missing out on their full state pension entitlement due to an error in their National Insurance records. This error affects those who took time off work to care for family between 1978 and 2010, as they may be missing what’s known as ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’, and mainly affects women.
Why are people receiving the letters?
The amount of State Pension you receive depends on the number of ‘qualifying’ National Insurance (NI) years you have. You collect these by working and paying NI, or if you’re claiming benefits or caring for others.
This system was previously called ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’. In July 2023 the Government admitted that around 210,000 people have gaps in their NI records due to missing ‘Home Responsibilities Protection’ and therefore are being underpaid in their State Pension. The average amount of State Pension underpaid, mainly to women, is around £5,000.
Who will receive these letters?
HMRC is identifying and contacting those affected by these gaps in their NI records, and is then sending out the letters in phases, with those over state pension age (66) being contacted first. People currently getting the state pension are most immediately affected, as the gaps in their records could be having a direct impact on their payments right now – so that’s the group HMRC is prioritising first, with those close to retirement to follow.
What will the HMRC letter say?
The letter is titled “You may be eligible for Home Responsibilities Protection”, and will direct you to visit the Gov.uk HRP web page. Through that website you’ll be asked to check whether you were eligible for HRP between 1978 and 2010, which you can do online on Gov.uk. If the checker says you’re eligible, you’ll be able to submit your claim online and HMRC will update your National Insurance record, which may increase your state pension payments.
If you’re worried that a letter you’ve received might be a scam, or if you’re unable or don’t want to claim online, you can check the letter is genuine or request a paper claim form by calling the National Insurance helpline on 0300 200 3500, you can also check a list of recent letters sent by HMRC at Gov.uk.