Basic State Pension explained

Published  09 November 2023
   5 min read

The Basic State Pension was replaced by the new State Pension in April 2016.

Key facts

  • It had to be claimed; it wasn't paid automatically.
  • An individual needed to have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 30 years to get a full Basic State Pension.
  • An individual got a proportionately smaller amount if they had less than 30 qualifying years.
  • An individual could be credited with qualifying years in certain circumstances.
  • The Basic State Pension usually increases each year by the highest of the growth in average earnings, CPI and 2.5%.

What is it?

The Basic State Pension is a pension benefit paid to all eligible employees and the self-employed if they reached their state pension age before 6 April 2016. It was not paid automatically; it needed to be claimed. It is not means tested.

Who can get it?

Anyone, including the self-employed, who had enough 'qualifying years' and had reached their state pension age before 6 April 2016 could claim it - unlike the State Second Pension, which was available only to the employed.

Qualifying years

If an individual had paid or had credited enough National Insurance contributions in the tax year, it would have counted as a qualifying year. 

It was possible to pay voluntary contributions for any years in which an individual hadn't paid National Insurance contributions or not enough for it to count as a qualifying year. 

From 6 April 2010, the number of required qualifying years for a full Basic State Pension was 30 for men and women. If an individual had less than 30 qualifying years, it was reduced proportionately with no minimum number of qualifying years required.

When can it be claimed?

The Basic State Pension is only paid to people who reached their state pension age before 6 April 2016.

To claim the Basic State Pension, contact the Pension Service: The basic State Pension: Claim a delayed (deferred) State Pension (opens in a new window).

If an individual reached state pension age after 5 April 2016 they receive the new State Pension.

Check your State Pension age - GOV.UK (opens in a new window)

It was possible to defer taking the Basic State Pension on reaching state pension age in exchange for a higher starting level or a taxable lump sum payment.

How much is it?

The current and previous rates can be found on our Basic State Pension rates and factors page. From April 2023 the full, single person, Basic State Pension is £156.20 a week.

Check your State Pension - GOV.UK  (opens in a new window)

Does it increase in payment?

Yes, for those claiming the pension in the UK the rate increases from April each year by at least the level of growth in average earnings. A triple guarantee usually applies so that the Basic State Pension increases each year by the highest of:

  • growth in average earnings
  • prices increases (the increase in CPI at the previous September) or
  • 2.5%

For those who are not in the UK it depends on the country of residence whether there is an increase. GOV.UK: State Pension if you retire abroad (opens in a new window).


The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.