The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has expanded its free State Pension statement service to include people aged 55 or over.
The statements give individuals eligible for the new State Pension an estimate of how much they'll be entitled to when they reach State Pension age, based on their current National Insurance (NI) contributions record. They also provide information explaining how their position might change with further NI contributions or credits.
Those who reach State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 will qualify for the new State Pension, which will pay a single flat rate per week. You'll need at least 10 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits to get any of the new State Pension, and 35 years to get the full amount.
The State Pension statement service, which launched in September last year, has issued 76,000 statements so far, but until now was only available to those aged 60 or over. Under the new rules around 5.5 million people will now be able to request a State Pension statement in order to prepare for their retirement.
Gearing up for pension freedoms
The Government says it plans to gradually extend the State Pension statement service so that everyone of working age will be able to request one.
But for now it has prioritised those aged 55 and over as this group will need more information to weigh up their options ahead of the new pension freedoms, which come into force from 6th April 2015.
The new rules will allow anyone saving into a defined contribution pension scheme to cash in their pension savings rather than being forced to buy an annuity.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb stressed it was crucial everyone had all the information to help them to make the right choices.
He said: "We are making sure people have the resources and support they need ahead of the new freedoms in April, so they can take the time to plan how to best use their pension saving for a secure retirement."
Before people take advantage of the new freedoms, they will also be encouraged to seek free and impartial guidance on their retirement choices from the new Government service, Pension wise.
How to get a State Pension forecast
The State Pension forecast statements won't be sent automatically, so you'll need to make a request for one if you want to see what you'll qualify for.
You can make a request online at www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement or call the Newcastle Pension Centre on 0345 300 0168 Money to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
Alternatively you can apply for a statement by printing out and filling in the BR19 form and posting it to:
The Pension Service 9
Mail Handling Site A
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