BENEFITS EXPERT: Can I "top up" my National Insurance if I have provided child care?

Q. I have been told that I can "top up" my National Insurance if I have provided child care for my daughter. Is this correct and how do I apply.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st July 2020, 12:00 am
Child care can play a part in National Insurance benefits.
Child care can play a part in National Insurance benefits.

A. It is possible to obtain Class 3 National Insurance credits which can be used to increase your State Pension if you believe there are gaps in your contribution records. The scheme was introduced in April 2011 and you can request backdated credits to this date as long as you meet the other requirements under the scheme. Once a child reaches 12 then credits will stop being added (if there is more than one child in question then the credits continue until all children are aged 12). There must be an active award of child benefit and the recipient of Child Benefit are not receiving the benefit of Class 3 contributions, this means in practice that the claimant (normally the mother) will be working and contributing Class 1 contributions which will go towards their own State Pension calculation. Credits can only be transferred to one grand parent even if child care is shared between other possible grand parents (this differs if you have grandchildren to other sons/daughters).

Finally you must be providing at least 20 hours or more care each week. In order to obtain the credits you will also need the consent of the current Child Benefit claimant.

A claim can be submitted online via the Government Website (along with more detailed information about the scheme) or you can call as well on 0300 200 3500.

In previous columns we had answered queries concerning bereavement based benefits for unmarried couples who have dependent children. Approximately 2 years ago the courts in Northern Ireland held that the current scheme was incompatible with Human Rights legislation and their decision was binding on England & Wales. Notwithstanding the decision it was common for the DWP to reject outright claims submitted by the surviving partner (although our advice would be to challenge the legality of the DWP's stance). The government has today announced it will be passing legislation to implement the court's decision. As of the time of writing however it is not known if any previous unsuccessful claims will be looked at again or for those making a first time application (even if their partner may have died before the court decision) will be eligible for back dated benefits. We will of course clarify this when more information and the legislation is published.