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People here who worked in UK urged to avail of July extension for special top-up to pensions


The form can be completed and sent off to the UK's HM Revenue and Customs

The form can be completed and sent off to the UK's HM Revenue and Customs

The form can be completed and sent off to the UK's HM Revenue and Customs

People in this country who worked in Britain have more time to benefit from a special concession to top up their pension from the UK.

The top-up has been described as a “golden opportunity” for people to boost these pensions. Thousands of Irish people worked in Britain and paid the equivalent of our social insurance there, giving them access to a pension.

There is a time-limited opportunity for these people to add up to 16 extra years to their UK pension. The deadline for this was to be on April 5.

But due to a surge in inquiries, the International Pension Centre in the UK has extended the deadline from April to July 31 of this year.

It is understood that huge numbers of Irish people who worked in England, and are now back living in Ireland, have put in an application to buy extra years to add to their British pension.

Financial adviser Vincent Digby of Impartial.ie said it was a “no brainer” for people who worked in Britain to buy extra years for their pension. He advised those eligible for this to make sure they get in before the new deadline.

Opting for the special top-up could be hugely beneficial, allowing people to get a much higher pension from Britain in addition to any pensions they are due to get from this country.

However, applicants were advised that it is taking between six and eight months to process applications.

Frank Buckley of USP Financial, a Co Offlay-based firm that specialises in helping returned immigrants secure their UK state pension entitlements, said there has been a surge of Irish applying for the top-up. People without a full National Insurance (NI) record of pension payments in the UK are not entitled to the full state pension, which is currently £185.15 a week. But they can pay voluntary contributions to rectify this.

Mr Buckley said that under the UK system, people are normally allowed pay for a maximum of six historic years missing from their NI record there. NI is the equivalent of PRSI here.

“They are missing as they did not work in the UK in those years because they left the country,” Mr Buckley said.

Major changes were introduced to the UK state pension in 2016. One of the changes was the introduction of what was called the New State Pension.

Under the old state pension people required 30 qualifying years on their NI record to secure the full standard pension rate. This is increasing from mid-April. With the new pension, people are now required to have 35 qualifying years on their NI record to reach the full standard rate.

Anybody whose qualifying years straddles pre and post-April 2016 will have a hybrid state pension entitlement consisting of the old and the new state pensions.

This means people can currently pay for a maximum of 16 historical years (2006/07 to 2021/22) missing from their NI record.

People can find the application form, the Form CF83, as the last two pages in the HMRC manual NI38 which you can locate on gov.uk. Mr Buckley said people can complete it and send it off to HM Revenue and Customs.

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