Claiming UK State Pension As An Expat

Many expats rely on their state pension payments to make ends meet, but can Britain be relied on to top up the payments in line with inflation each year?

Unfortunately, for many retired expats the answer is no unless they live in one of a few selected places that have a special agreement with Britain.

Even moving to one of Britain’s closet Commonwealth friends and allies like Australia does not guarantee a pension uplift that every state pensioner in the UK receives.

So what are the rules for expat state pensioners?

First, expats can’t make financial plans if they don’t have the latest list of countries where the British government increases the state pension in line with payments received by pensioners in the UK.

The list of countries where the state pension is index-linked is not that long

  • Any country in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Gibraltar
  • Switzerland
  • Any country with a reciprocal social security agreement with the UK – but not Canada or New Zealand

How much is the state pension overseas?

If a country is not listed, the British government will pay the state pension, but the amount remains at the sum first paid unless the expat returns permanently to the UK.

Some pensioners paid the state pension in Canada receive £72.50 a week, the same level as their first claim in 2001.

How much state pension is paid depends on if an expat retired before or after April 6, 2016.

Before that date, the basic state pension at today’s rate is £129.50 plus any additional benefits, providing the recipient has 30 years of national insurance contributions. Fewer years means a reduced pension.

Unsympathetic government

After April 6, 2016, the new state pension is paid. Recipients need 35 years of national insurance contributions to earn the maximum £168.60 a week. Again, the amount is reduced for a NI record of fewer years.

How the state pension for expats is claimed and calculated is explained in detail on the government web site.

The government is unsympathetic to the plight of expat state pensioners.

“It would cost taxpayers more than £3 billion over five years to change course on an issue which has been clear and settled government policy for 70 years. We have no plans to do so,2 said a Department of Work and Pensions spokesman.

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