Can Grandparents Boost Their State Pension by Looking After Grandchildren?

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During your working life you build up National Insurance credits which go on your National Insurance record, this helps determine how much you will receive in your state pension. 

Each year you meet the criteria for a NI credit during your working life, it appears on your NI record as a ‘full qualifying year’. The number of ‘full qualifying years’ you have on your record directly relates to how much you will receive in your state pension. Being in paid employment is one of the ways you can earn these years automatically. 


If you haven’t earned enough automatic credits to qualify for the full state pension, there are a range of ways to do this manually. You can plug any gaps in your NI record and boost your state pension entitlement.


One way Grandparents can do this is to apply for credits for looking after their grandchildren! Because looking after grandchildren is contributing to society just as much as someone in a paid job is, and therefore Grandparents should be entitled to the same protection for their state pension as if they were in work.


How does it work?

Parents who claim child benefit receive NI credits as part of the benefit, if that parent then goes to work and grandparents look after the children, the credit can be passed over to them, they get transferred or donated. 


Who can get it?

If you’re already on track to get the full state pension, or are receiving a full state pension already, adding extra childcare credits won’t boost it beyond the maximum I’m afraid.

If you haven’t yet reached state pension age you should check your national insurance record for gaps.

If you have already reached state pension age and are not receiving the maximum state pension, you can check your NI record for any incomplete years.

All of this information can be checked on through your government gateway account.

To get the credits you need to be  …


  • A grandparent, or another family member, caring for a family member under the age of 12. 
  • Over 16 and under state pension age when you cared for the child in your family.
  • Live in the UK (I’m afraid the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not included in this scheme)


There’s no minimum number of hours you need to be looking after the child, but the parent must be registered for child benefit, even if they aren’t actually receiving it.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that credits aren’t awarded per child, but per parent who is claiming the child benefit.


How do you get it?

These credits aren’t given automatically – you must apply.


The form is available on the website and it’s called an ‘Application for Specified Adult Childcare credits (CA9176)’


The form will ask for the child’s details, and those of the family member caring for them. Plus you’ll need to give the dates of when you cared for the child and details of the parent who’s registered for child benefit.


As I mentioned only child care you provided before you reached state pension age counts, though you can backdate your claim back to 2011.


Both the child’s parent (who is registered for child benefit) and the person applying for the credits will need to sign the form. You then send it off to HMRC and they’ll respond with a confirmation letter. They do send a letter to the parent as well to make sure they are aware of the application.


And that’s all there is to it. The credits will be applied and should help fill some gaps in your NI record.


While you can’t currently apply for the 2022/23 tax year until October 2023, you can apply for backdated childcare national insurance (NI) credits all the way back to April 2011. 


So, if you’re already claiming your state pension and not getting the full amount, you could boost your entitlement by backdating your claim. It’s worth taking a look!


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