HOUSEHOLDS have just three months to carry out a check and claim thousands of pounds.
Brits aged between 45 and 70 are being warned to check if they could boost their state pension.
A government scheme which allows people to fill in gaps in their National Insurance (NI) is ending in April.
It takes 35 years of NI contributions to get the full amount of state pension and you can pay for the gaps to be filled.
Those who could benefit from the scheme are being urged to apply before the deadline.
People often have gaps if they were unemployed, on a low income, or self-employed.
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You can check how many years of NI payments you've made and see any missing years on the government website.
Investing in state pension "top-ups" can get people a better "rate of return" than other ways of saving, according to LCP partner and former pensions minister Steve Webb.
Steve said: "For many people, paying voluntary NI contributions can be great value for money and can help them boost their state pension in a cost-effective way.
"For people with gaps in their NI record going back more than six years, the window to fill those gaps will soon close.
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"Some people have gaping holes in their NI record and this will be the last chance to fill them."
Someone with 10 missing years could pay out a little over £8,000 to fix the gaps but see a boost of £55,000 in state pension over a typical 20-year retirement.
Currently, you can top up for any missing years dating back to 2006 but a six-year limit will return on April 5, restricting how far you can go back to 2016.
The body will be able to tell you whether it's worth you paying for extra qualifying years, as it may not be beneficial for everyone.
This scheme only applies to people who reached (or will reach) state pension age after April 5, 2016.
In some cases, buying back missing years can be "extremely valuable" said Steve.
But, earning back the years isn't free so your voluntary contributions do come at a price.
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 is currently £185.15 per week, this boost would add £5.29 per week or around £275 per year.
This means that someone who gets the boost for at least four years would make their money back and even make a profit.
Steve said that in an extreme case, someone who missed the deadline to fill their gaps would lose the chance to top up another 10 years of NI contributions.
This would be the period between 2006/07 to 2015/16.
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).
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.
This could be the case for those who are short of a full state pension because of long periods of "contracting out’".
Steve said: "Although topping up is not the right answer for everyone, and people should always check with DWP before handing over any money, for some people this could be by far the best rate of return they could get on any spare capital.
"Missing out could cost some workers thousands of pounds."
To help people understand the rules and know where to find details of their NI record and pension forecast, consultants LCP have created a website tool that can be found at www.lcp.uk.com/statepensionboost.
It's important to check if gaps in your contributions – for example when you're not working and looking after children – can be made up by claiming NI credits instead.
Thousands are thought to be missing out on these credits, leaving them worse off in retirement.
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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Besides topping up missing NI payments, we explain other ways you can boost your state pension by up to £700 a year.
Plus, pensioners on a low income could get extra help from pension credit – here's how.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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