What are National Insurance credits?


Financial Guidance

There are a number of reasons why you may be out of work. You may have taken time out of your job to look after your children or cope with an illness, or been made redundant.

No matter the reason, when facing unemployment you won’t want your entitlement to certain benefits to be put in jeopardy or to miss out on the State Pension when you come to retire. Don’t worry, there is a way of maintaining your National Insurance record when you’re no longer able to make contributions – through National Insurance credits.

National Insurance credits

If you’re not in paid employment, you might be able to qualify for National Insurance credits. The National Insurance credits that you receive will work to fill in the gaps in your National Insurance record and enable you to continue to receive certain benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance and the State Pension.

You’ll either get National Insurance credits automatically or you’ll have to apply for them. To do this you must be over the age of 16 and below the State Pension age. There are two types of National Insurance credits available: Class 1 and Class 3.

Class 3 credits count towards your State Pension and bereavement benefits, whereas Class 1 covers these alongside other benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance. Let’s take a look at some of the circumstances where you might qualify for National Insurance credits.

Childcare and carers

You should receive National Insurance credits automatically if you’re a parent (over the age of 16), receive Child Benefit and care for a child under the age of 12. If you receive a Carer’s Allowance or Income Support you should automatically receive Class 1 and Class 3 National Insurance credits respectively.

If you’re a grandparent or another family member (over the age of 16 and under the state pension age) and you don’t work in order to provide care for a child under the age of 12, you may be able to get Class 3 Specified Adult National Insurance credits. You’ll have to apply for this.

Registered carers who look after someone who is sick or disabled for more than 20 hours a week could receive Class 3 National Insurance credits if the person they care for receives:

  • Disability Living Allowance (care component at the middle or highest rate)
  • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance
  • A care certificate

If you don’t receive a Carer’s Allowance, you won’t receive National Insurance credits automatically and will need to apply for them.


You may be able to receive Class 1 National Insurance credits if you’re currently unemployed. To qualify, you’ll need to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance and will have to apply for National Insurance credits. You can do this by calling the National Insurance helpline or by getting in touch with HMRC.

Illness or disability

If you’re not able to work due to an illness or disability, then you can get National Insurance credits automatically if you receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Employability Supplement or Allowance.

For a full list of eligibility for National Insurance credits, click here.

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