The rules on claiming the credits have changed in recent months, in response to the coronavirus crisis. It came after social distancing measures meant grandparents were no longer able to provide care for their grandchildren in person, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 between households.
The state pension is affected by a person’s National Insurance record.
Missing out on a year’s worth of credits can cost £250 a year in state pension.
Guidance on the government website states: “Since March 2020, your normal caring arrangements may have been affected by coronavirus (Covid-19).
“If you have provided care in a different way, for example over the telephone or video, you can still apply for National Insurance credits for the financial years 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021.”
These credits can be claimed back to April 2011 – when the scheme was introduced.
“You may be entitled to receive these NI credits if you are a grandparent, or other family member, who cares for a child under 12, usually whilst their parent (or main carer) is working,” the government guidance explains on GOV.UK.
“These credits are only available from April 2011 and you must make an application to receive the NI credits.”
The credits, and their ability to stop gaps in a National Insurance record, is something which LEBC Group has addressed in its report: Gender Pension Gap – A practical guide.
“As well as caring for their own children, women are more likely than men to provide care to other relatives and often give up work to do so, or work part-time,” it states.
“This is a contributor to the gender pay gap and can impact on their ability to build up a pension.
“If not working or earning too little to pay National Insurance (£6,136 per year in 2019/20), state pension will be lost for the years of caring.
“But you can claim credits where care for an adult is given by a person over 16 and under state retirement age.
“If the carer qualifies for carers allowance they will automatically get credits to boost their state pension.
“Many working parents rely on other family members to help with child care.
“Relatives who are not working and paying National Insurance and are under state pension age, can claim specified childcare credit for the weeks they look after children under age 12.”