State Pensions

What the State provides and how it works...

This section sets out some brief details regarding the State Pension benefits. It is based on the current position regarding State Pension benefits and is therefore subject to any changes which the Government may make to such benefits. If you have any queries regarding your State Pension entitlement please contact the pensions Service. For more details see

There are currently two parts to the state pension arrangements: a Basic State Pension and the State Second Pension (S2P). These are summarised below:

The Basic State Pension
This is a flat-rate amount reviewed each year by the government. If you are a man born after 5 April 1945 or a woman born after 5 April 1950, you need 30 qualifying years to get a maximum basic State Pension at State Pension Age. You can get a forecast of your expected State pension by going to The Pensions Service website.

The State Second Pension (S2P)
This replaced the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) in April 2002 and currently builds up at 3 different levels, depending on the level of your earnings. The amount of S2P you earn for any one year depends on:

  • Your earnings in that year (and, as a result, the amount of National Insurance contributions you paid).
  • The growth in national average earnings in the period up to your State Pension Age.
  • The rules for paying S2P when you reach State Pension Age.

If you die before you start taking your pension, your husband, wife or registered civil partner may be eligible for half of any S2P you have earned. If you do not leave a husband, wife or civil partner there will be no payment.

Current State Pension Age (SPA)

For men born before 6 December 1953, the current State Pension age is 65.  For women born after 5 April 1950 but before 6 December 1953, their State Pension age is between 60 and 65. For more information please visit

Contracting out
If a pension scheme is contracted out of the S2P, then its members and their employer pay National Insurance Contributions at a reduced rate. Therefore, such members would not get the full rate S2P they would have received had they paid full rate contributions. So your contracted out/in status and earnings during your working life will determine the amount of S2P you will receive once you reach your State Pension Age.

SAL, RIGPS and Bradford pension Schemes were contracted out of the S2P until 5 April 2010 (inclusive). Since 6 April 2010, these Schemes have contracted back into the S2P. Therefore, members of these Schemes are now paying National Insurance Contributions at the full rate and are building up a proportion of S2P benefits for the future.