MARTIN Lewis has revealed two easy checks that anyone under 73 should do to see if they are eligible for free state pension cash.

The consumer expert shared the advice in the latest MoneySavingExpert (MSE) newsletter and you could be set to gain tens of thousands of pounds.

Martin said: "Many assume they'll automatically get the state pension at retirement. It doesn't work like that.

"You have to build up enough qualifying national insurance (NI) years – normally from employment or certain benefits."

The new state pension was introduced in 2016 for men born after April 5, 1951 – up to the age of 73 – and women after April 5, 1953 – up to 71.

 You need at least ten years of qualifying national insurance contributions to get any state pension payments. 



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The first check he suggests making is whether you have missing NI years.

You might have holes in your record for various reasons, like if you took time out to raise children, but luckily there is a way to fix it.

If you don't fill in the gaps you could end up missing out on the full state pension when you retire, which at the moment is worth £203.85 a week or £10,608 a year.

It takes 35 "qualifying" years of  National Insurance (NI) contributions to get the full state pension.

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But if you do have holes, you can pay for the gaps to be filled.

Currently you can backfill holes from 2006 to 2016 and you have until April 5, 2025 to do this.

After this date, you will only be able to backdate payments by up to six years.

This scheme only applies to people who reached (or will reach) state pension age after April 5, 2016.

You can check how many years of NI payments you've made and see any missing years on the government website.

Martin's second piece of advice is to check whether you can plug these NI gaps for free.

Parents get National Insurance (NI) credits automatically if they claim child benefit and their child is under 12.

These credits count towards your State Pension, so you do not have gaps in your NI record if you're not working or don't earn enough to pay NI contributions.

If you do not need the NI credits, your family may be eligible to get the support instead.

Your husband, wife or partner can apply to transfer the credits.

A different family member, like a grandparent, who provides care for your child can apply for Specified Adult Childcare credits.

We have a full guide here on how to claim the credits.

Plus, you should also check if you are eligible for carer's credit.

It's available if you're caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week.

You have to be aged 16 or over and under state pension age, and the person you're caring for must be on certain benefits, including including disability living allowance, attendance allowance, personal independence payment.

You can see the full list on

How to top up National Insurance contributions and how much you can get

How to top up National Insurance contributions and how much you can get

If you can't fill the gaps for free, buying back missing years can be really valuable.

But, earning back the years isn't free so your voluntary contributions do come at a price.

If you're filling gaps between 2006/07 to 2015/16 you'll be paying the 2022/23 rates for contributions.

It works out to be worth £15.85 a week which means it costs £824.20 to buy one year of contributions.

As the state pension was £185.15 per week in 2022/23, this boost would add £5.29 per week or around £275 per year. 

Although you'd have to pay £8,242 (10 lots of £824.20), the annual state pension boost would be around £2,750.

Someone who was retired for 20 years would get back around £55,000 in total (before tax).

Anyone who tops up their record after April 2025 will pay those rates.

Though before making voluntary contributions, you need to get a pension forecast and speak to the Government's Future Pension Centre.

This is because there are some situations in which paying historic contributions wouldn't boost your state pension. 

You can check the full list of who's eligible for claiming credits on the government website.

It explains the circumstances where you'll need to claim and when you'll get it automatically.

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Meanwhile, here are four of the best ways to boost your retirement pot and two to avoid.

Here's the full list of reasons you might have gaps in your record and risk missing out on the full payment.

You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.

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