How to check your pension contributions

As you save for retirement it’s important to check your pension contributions regularly and ensure you’re on track to reach your retirement goals. You can check your National Insurance record to see how much State Pension you’ll receive and can find out the value of your private pension by checking your pension statement.

Checking your personal pension contributions

Whether you have a personal pension, workplace pension or self employed pension, you can check your contributions and the total value of your pot by reading your pension statement. A pension statement is usually sent to you by your pension provider once a year and shows you a complete breakdown of your pension.

If you have a defined contribution pension, which most workplace and personal pensions are, you’ll be able to see a summary of how much you’ve contributed and the level of income you can expect to receive in retirement.

Alongside your contributions you can also see whether pension tax relief has been added to your balance. Tax relief can be claimed for any contributions you make to your pension and is used by the government to encourage retirement saving. Basic rate taxpayers get a 25% tax top up, meaning HMRC adds £25 for every £100 you pay into your pension. If you pay a higher rate of tax, you’ll be able to reclaim additional tax relief through your Self-Assessment tax return.

When checking your pension you should make sure that all of your contributions are within the annual allowance of £40,000. This personal allowance includes any money you pay into your pension, tax relief from HMRC and any payments paid by your employer through a workplace pension scheme. Any contributions you make to your pension over £40,000 generally won’t be eligible for tax relief.

Checking your State Pension contributions

Unlike a personal or workplace pension, you can’t contribute to your State Pension directly. Instead, your State Pension entitlement is calculated on how much national insurance you’ve paid during your working life. In order to receive the minimum amount from the government when you reach State Pension age, you’ll need to have paid National Insurance Contributions for at least 10 years. To receive the full State Pension you’ll need to have paid National Insurance Contributions for 35 years.

You can check your National Insurance Contribution record on the gov.uk website to see how many years you still need to contribute in order to receive a full pension. If there are any gaps in your contribution record, for example if you took time out due to sickness, to raise children or care for elderly relatives, it’s possible to get national insurance credits.

Paying voluntary contributions is also an option, however this isn’t guaranteed to increase your pension and will depend on your circumstances and individual record. You might want to consider making extra national insurance payments if you’re nearing retirement age and don’t have enough qualifying years on your record.

Calculating your retirement income

Using a pension calculator can help you assess how much you need to pay into your personal or workplace pensions to have a comfortable retirement. If you input how much you’re contributing to your pension and how much your employer is contributing, the calculator will automatically add your tax relief to the total. By inputting your current age and the age you’d like to retire, the calculator can demonstrate how much pension savings you’ll have for each year of your retirement.

Retirement planning is a good way to get to know your pension and your pension pot size will determine the pension options available to you in retirement. If you have a large pension pot you might consider taking pension early from the age of 55. However, if your pension is smaller, you may want to increase your pension contributions and, if you’re close to pension age, consider delaying your retirement by a few years.

Check your pension easily with PensionBee

With PensionBee, you can log into your BeeHive anywhere from any device to check your balance and see whether you’re on target to reach your retirement saving goal.

Sign up to PensionBee and take control of your pension saving.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Last edited: 07-09-2018

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