Currently the state pension age is currently 65 for men , and 60 for women. From April 2010 the state pension age will increase gradually, so that by 2020 it will also be 65 years of age.
The Pension Act 2007 introduced a number of changes, one of which was reducing the number of qualifying years needed for a full basic State Pension to 30 for those people who will reach state pension age on or after April 2010. At present women need 39 years and men need 44.
The tax years during which you build up entitlement to the basic State Pension are called ‘qualifying years’. The amount of State Pension you ultimately receive will depend on how many qualifying years you have built up before reaching State Pension age.
In the current tax year, an employed person needs to have earned at least £95 per week for the year (Class 1 contributions), and a self employed person a flat rate of £2.40 per week (Class 2 contributions) for that year to be a “qualifying year”.
If a person does not work, or if they earn below the Lower Earnings Limit either some, or all, of the time, they may choose to pay Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions, currently £12.05 a week .