The short 18 month window to make Class 3A voluntary contributions has commenced and will run to 5 April 2017. Class 3A allows existing pensioners and those reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 to improve their retirement income by purchasing extra State Pension. Pensioners can purchase additional State Pension of up to a maximum of £25 per week.
From 6 April 2016 a single tier flat-rate pension will be introduced for people who reach State Pension age from that date. Class 3A is designed to help people who have not been able to build much State Pension before the single tier pension is introduced.
Illustrations of the cost for different ages can be found at www.gov.uk/state-pension-topup. As an example, the cost for a person aged 65 to receive an additional £5 pension a week would be £4,450. Prices are lower for older pensioners because they are more likely to have a shorter life at retirement when they start paying Class 3A.
Class 3A is not a replacement for Class 3 Voluntary National Insurance contributions whereby workers can fill certain gaps in their contribution records. The government advises pensioners to ensure that they have full entitlement to the basic payment before purchasing the new top up.