The UK Social Security System and Living Abroad

The UK has a very comprehensive social security system that is funded through individual’s National Insurance payments. Once UK residents reach the age of 16 they are awarded a National Insurance number, which is used as a reference number for their subsequent access to the social security system. The social security system covers state benefits for individuals who are unable to work because they are ill, injured or suffering from a disability and also provides payments to people who are out of work or on maternity leave. The NI contributions are also used to fund pension payments to individuals once they reach retirement age. At present this is the age of 65.

What to do if you do not know your National Insurance number

Your NI number can be obtained from the Department for Social Development (Northern Ireland) or the Inland Revenue National Contributions Office. A list of contact numbers and addresses for these offices throughout the UK can be found on the National Insurance website.

The impact of living abroad on your social security eligibility

If you make the decision to live overseas this may impact your social security eligibility, both in your country of residence and your home country. Whether or not you are entitled to social security will depend upon whether or not you live in the EU or a country that has a reciprocal social security agreement in place with the UK. The following sections contains details of how your social security entitlements may be impacted by living overseas:

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