To help fund the Welfare State, most people who are employed or self-employed in the UK must pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs), as well as income tax. In return, they will directly benefit by receiving the State Pension when they reach retirement age. They may also receive certain benefits, such as Maternity Allowance, as and when the relevant circumstances arise.
To qualify for the full State Pension, an individual must have paid their NICs for the whole of their adult working lives, somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 years. However, you can voluntarily pay to fill in gaps in your record, via Class 3 contributions. You can check your record here if you have a Government Gateway login.
(Image: kschneider on pixabay.com)