Thousands of people who are helping to bring up their grandchildren could be missing out on more than £260 a year from the government.
Childcare credits were first introduced in 2011 to help support those who may be missing out on their state pension.
It allows family members who are helping with childcare to claim money towards their retirement pot.
More than 20,000 grandparents have made use of childcare credits since it launched, however as much as 80% of the population could be missing out.
To qualify for the new state pension in the UK, you need to have accumulated 35 years’ worth of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) over your working life.
Those with less than 10 years won’t get a penny – and those with between 10 and 34 may only get a fraction of what they could earn.
However, those looking after a child below the age of 12 can get credits to effectively make up the difference.
How does “grandparents’ credit” work?
Under the rules surrounding specified adult childcare credits, if a mother goes back to work after the birth of a child, she can sign a form that allows a grandparent, or other family member, to receive National Insurance (NI) credits for looking after the young person.
This means the person can continue to build up their National Insurance Contributions as they look after the child.
These credits can be backdated until 6 April 2011 and the Government encourages everyone who is eligible to apply.
It’s not just for grandparents though
The Grandparents’ credit is just one element of specified adult childcare credits which covers anyone looking after a child that’s related to them, full time.
It ensures any gaps in their National Insurance record is covered, which boosts their chances of getting the full state pension (currently £175.20 a week or £9,110.40 a year).
“With childcare costs surging to become a disproportionate amount of people’s salary, grandparents often throw families a much needed lifeline by taking on the care,” tax expert, Rachael Griffin at Old Mutual Wealth explained.
“While spending your days taking trips to the zoo and having picnics in the park may sound like a holiday, taking care of young children while doing so make it’s more akin to working a full time job. National Insurance credits are the least this unsung workforce deserves.”
Who counts as a family member?
You may be entitled to childcare credits if you are a grandparent or other family member who cares for a child aged under 12, (or 17 if the child is disabled) usually while the parent is working.
Those eligible must be over the age of 16 and below the state pension age which is now 66 (when they cared for the child).
To claim, you must live in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Mother or father who doesn’t live with the child
Grandparent, great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent
Brother or sister
Aunt or uncle
Husband or wife or former husband or wife
Civil partner or former civil partner
Partner or former partner
Son or daughter / half-brother or half-sister or step/adopted sibling
How to claim Adult Childcare Credits
Anyone looking to claim childcare credits can do so online here – don’t forget you can also backdate it to 2011.
You won’t be able to claim if you have already qualified for National Insurance for that year (ie if you have been in employment or claim another form of NI credits).
If you have any issues with the applications process, you can call the National Insurance helpline on 0300 200 3500.
“Many families rely heavily on the support provided by grandparents to enable them to combine paid work and family life,” explained Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister.
“The fact that there is a scheme to make sure that grandparents do not lose out, by protecting their state pension rights, is a very good thing,” he added.
How much can you claim?
How much you’ll get in extra credits depends on how long you’ve been looking after your grandchildren.
Each yearly credit is worth 1/35 of the value of the state pension, which is currently around £260 per year.
So if you’ve been taking care of them since the credits launched in 2011, you can expect to receive the full £2,340 towards your state pension.
To calculate how much you’ll get, simply multiply the number of years with £260 to get a rough idea.
-- to www.mirror.co.uk