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 at least 35 years during their adult working lives, or a minimum of 10 years to receive a reduced amount. 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.
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