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I'm a student in the UK. For this reason I have not been working full-time, leading to gaps in my National Insurance contributions (NICs) - 6 years and a total of £4400, to be precise. I could theoretically afford to fill this gap, though it's not an insignificant amount of money for me. I have until the end of this tax year to fill the gap in the earliest missed year, should I wish to.

Personally, I am reaching the end of my undergraduate degree and plan to undertake a Ph.D., which will leave me out of employment for another 4 years. The upshot is that I attend a pretty prestigious university, and can hopefully expect to land a fairly well-paid job if I leave research after this. To further complicate things, I could end up working abroad and not paying NICs at all.

To recap how (I think) NI works, you need 10 years of full contributions to claim any state pension, and 35 years to claim the full state pension. I have over 40 years left in which I am legally allowed to make NI contributions, not including missed years. The relevant law could (and probably will) change before then, but there's no accounting for this.

My question: is it worth making any of these voluntary NICs? My gut says no, because if I don't pay, I control the money, could put it in my own pension fund, invest it, etc.. But I might be missing something - I'm in quite a complex and uncertain situation and am not entirely sure what to make of it.


See also Wisdom of Voluntary National Insurance Contributions in 20's - however, this was asked in 2018, and the situation may have changed somewhat since.

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There is some number of paid years that gives you the full state pension; anything paid beyond that is useless. On the other hand, getting one year payment before that limit for £730 as you say is the best financial investment that you can make. There are many reasons why you might not reach the complete full pension years: If the limit is increased from 35 to 40 years, if you move and work abroad.

I would try hard to pay at least the year that you otherwise miss out on during this tax year, and more if you can afford it at all. These six years will probably pay you more than £100 pension every month from maybe 70 to the end of your life.

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  • For reference, the quoted pension given 35 years of NICs is £11541.90/year, or £961.83/mth. Though, taking inflation into account, this is barely enough to break even by my calculations... Commented Apr 24 at 16:15
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    Your calculations are wrong. £961.83/mth divided by 35 is £27.48 a month from one year contribution which you said costs you £730. So after 26.5 months getting a pension you get your money back and if you get 20 years of pension, then you get £6.600 back for your £730. Interest and inflation is completely irrelevant because the state pension in 35 years time will also be adjusted by inflation.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 29 at 22:32
  • Yes, sorry, you are correct. The figure that I am quoted is the current state pension amount and is adjusted for inflation every year. So it is a better deal than I thought... Commented May 9 at 14:45

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