The rules around contribution requirements for a State Pension will depend on your personal circumstances. If you've been receiving Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit or Carer's Allowance, you will normally still be eligible to receive National Insurance credits. This means that when you retire, the time you've spent off work because of your cancer treatment won't affect your State Pension.
In some cases, you'll receive National Insurance credits automatically, but in others you may have to apply for them.
You will automatically receive Class 1 credits if you're on Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker's Allowance. However you may need to apply in writing to claim for certain credits e.g. if you're unemployed and looking for work but not receiving any benefits.
There are two types of occupational pensions:
- Final salary schemes: your pension will automatically increase as your pay rises and is based on the number of years you have been in the scheme.
- Money purchase schemes: the money you pay into your pension is invested over time.
Under the Equality Act 2010 every occupational pension scheme has a 'non discrimination' rule. This means that pension managers are not allowed to treat you less favourably because of your disability or health condition.
The law says that your pension provider must provide you with accessible information on your pension scheme and how to complain if you think something has gone wrong.
Automatic enrolment into a workplace pension
The law on workplace pensions changed in 2012 and means that your employer must enrol you into their workplace pension if you are an eligible employee, regardless of any disability or health condition.
The government is phasing in the date for enrolling staff in a workplace pension, so this may affect you up to 2018. It will also depend on the size of the business you work for (smaller firms are being given more time to prepare). You can work out your 'staging date' by checking it on the Pensions Regulator website.
Ill health cover
Some occupational pension schemes include 'ill health' cover. If you're not sure whether yours does and want to know whether you're covered or not, speak to your manager, the HR department, or the trustees of the pension scheme and ask them for a copy of the rules.
If you cannot work due to ill health, you may be able to take your pension benefits early. This is known as an 'ill-health pension' and means you may receive money before the age of 55.
Updated January 2017, next review due December 2017.