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Firefighters Pension Scheme

Planning for Retirement or Re-employment after Retirement


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Retirement Process

If you are thinking about retiring from service (other than through ill-health or injury), there are issues you need to consider to ensure that you are making the right and informed decision for you. There are also processes you need to follow to avoid delays to payments and other complications.

For pension purposes, you attain a particular age at 00:00 hours between the day you celebrate the anniversary of your birth and the day before. For example, if you were born on 25 August 1950 and have a compulsory retirement age of 55, your last day of service would be 24 August 2005. You would no longer be a firefighter on the day that you would celebrate as your 55th birthday.

Before you make a formal notification to retire, if you wish to obtain an estimate of what your retirement benefits would be, please send your request to pensions@esfrs.org. Please note that there may be a charge applied by the Pensions Administrator if you request more than one estimate within a twelve month period. If after receiving the estimate you wish to retire, you will need to give notice (one week or one month depending on your employment contract) in writing to your Line and HR Managers. 

The Pensions Administrator will contact you upon receipt of your retirement confirmation notice from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and send you all the necessary documentation and information required to finalise your retirement. 

Please check the retirement notice periods on your employment contract and give yourself enough time to complete the above processes to avoid any delays to your pension. 

Full and Early Retirement

Although each Firefighter Pension Scheme (FPS) has a fixed retirement age, you can also opt to retire early which may lead to a reduction in the pension paid as a reflection of the fact that it is being paid early.

The retirement ages to consider are:

FPS 2015 

  • Fixed/Normal retirement age of 60 for active members. At the age of 60, you will be paid your full pension if you have sufficient service 
  • If you are a deferred member, your fixed retirement age will be equal to state pension age (SPA). You can check your current SPA at www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension
  • Possibility of retiring early at or after the age of 55 (with a reduction). 

Please note – Different rules apply if you are a transitional member of the 2015 scheme and wish to retire early. This is because you are awarded a two-part pension, one part built up in your original final salary scheme (FPS 1992 or FPS 2006) and the other in the 2015 scheme. The rules of each scheme apply separately to each part of your pension, and there are some special transitional rules built into the 2015 scheme on how service and salary should apply. Please refer to the retirement factsheets and decision trees for details.  

FPS 2006 

  • Fixed/Normal retirement age of 60 for active members. At the age of 60 you will be paid your full pension if you have sufficient service
  • If you are a deferred member, your fixed retirement age will be age 65
  • Possibility of retiring early at or after the age of 55 (with a reduction)  

FPS 2006 (Retained Modified Scheme – Protected Special Members): 

  • Fixed/Normal retirement age of 55 for active members. At the age of 55 you will be paid your full pension if you have sufficient service
  • If you are a deferred member, your fixed retirement age will be age 60
  • No possibility of retiring early unless on ill-health grounds (at any age) 

FPS 1992 

  • An ordinary pension is payable to an active Firefighter at age 50 or over with at least 25 years’ service
  • A short service pension is payable to an active Firefighter at age 55 or over to members with less than 25 years’ service but more than two years’ service
  • No possibility of retiring early unless on ill-health grounds (at any age) 

Changes have been made to the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the Firefighters Compensation Scheme. These changes come into effect from 1 April 2019 and are explained below: 

Surviving Partner’s Pension

The 1992 scheme and the compensation scheme rules on survivors’ pensions have been changed following a legal judgment. This judgment considered the restriction of service within the calculation of the surviving partners’ pension for civil partners and same sex marriage unlawful. 

The 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme have been changed to remove the restriction on service from 6 April 1988 used in the calculation of a survivor’s pension to a civil partner or same sex marriage. This change applies retrospectively. 

This has the following effect; 

If you are a,

  • Firefighter member (whether you are active, have left or retired) and
  • in a civil partnership or same sex marriage, 

you do not need to do anything. The survivor’s pension payable on your death will automatically be calculated based on your full service with no restriction applied. 

If you are in receipt of a,

  • Firefighters survivor’s pension from the 1992 scheme, and or
  • Survivor’s pension from the compensation scheme (under the rules of the compensation scheme,  

a survivor’s pension is only paid where the former Firefighter died from the effect of a qualifying injury or of infirmity of mind or body occasioned by a qualifying injury); and were civil partnered or in a same-sex marriage, your pension may have been calculated based on restricted service from 6 April 1988 only. Your pension in payment may need to be recalculated to include the firefighter member’s full service. 

If a family member or friend, who has subsequently died was in receipt of a,

  • Survivor’s pension from the Firefighters scheme, and or
  • Survivor’s pension from the compensation scheme (under the rules of the compensation scheme,  

a survivor’s pension is only paid where the former Firefighter died from the effect of a qualifying injury or of infirmity of mind or body occasioned by a qualifying injury) as a result of being in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership with a member of the Firefighters scheme, the pension may have been calculated based on restricted service from 6 April 1988 only.  

If you believe that you or someone you know may be affected by these changes you should contact the Pension Scheme Administrator for further information.

For some scheme members who have had a reduction to their pensionable pay before retirement, changes (below) which came into effect from 8 October 2018 could affect how we work out your pension: 

Changes to split pensions (two pensions)

A split pension, also known as two-pensions, may apply if you have had a reduction to your pensionable pay. You may be entitled to a split pension if you are a 1992 or 2006 Scheme member. 

A split pension is worked out at retirement. The first part of your pension is based on the higher rate of pay before the reduction and increased by an equivalent to the Pensions Increase Act. The second part of your pension is worked out using your pensionable pay at retirement. The two parts are added together and measured against what you would have had as a single pension. You will get whichever pension is higher.  

The recent changes confirm that the first part of your split pension should be increased by an equivalent to pensions increase, from the day after your pay reduced to the date you retire. Further increases would not be applied until age 55 or unless you retired on ill health.

Partial Retirement

Under the FPS 2015 there is an option for partial retirement once you have reached age 55 if you wish to draw your pension but continue your employment as a Firefighter without a break and build up additional pension. However, the 1992 and 2006 schemes require a member to fully retire in order to be able to claim those benefits.

Your FPS 2015 pension would be paid (subject to an early payment reduction if you have not reached age 60). A new pension record would be set up and you will build up a pension based on your continuing membership. This second pension will become payable, on similar terms to your first pension, when you retire.

The date on which you take partial retirement is subject to appropriate notice to the Fire & Rescue Service and agreement by the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) in consultation with the Assistant Director Resources or Treasurer.

Flexible Retirement

This is only available to members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). Members of the Firefighters Pension Schemes (FPS) cannot apply for flexible retirement.

Regulations, introduced in late 2005, allow members of the LGPS to request flexible retirement. The regulations allow an employee who is a member of the Scheme (LGPS) aged 55 or over, to reduce their hours of work or grade to elect to take their retirement benefits early whilst still continuing in employment and continuing their Fund membership, provided the employer agrees.

However, there are individuals who are members of both schemes (FPS and LGPS) and who may wish to retire in one form or another from one or both schemes. In such an instance, please consider the age criteria and what is allowable for your specific scheme memberships and follow the approved process accordingly.

Re-employment after Retirement

You may choose to find work again after retiring. Depending on who you work for, your new employment may affect the firefighter pension you are receiving. In addition, depending on what scheme you are a member of, you will also need to consider abatement and the loss of Protected Pension Age (PPA) following re-employment, which are two separate provisions that can apply to a member’s benefits.  

Abatement

Pensioners who return to employment within the fire service, whether uniformed or non-uniformed, may have their pension reduced or suspended during the period of re-employment. The reduction is on a £ for £ basis and is also known as ‘Abatement’.  

Abatement does not apply in the Firefighters Pension Scheme 2015. 

Abatement ensures that you are not receiving any more than the value of pay you would have received when you left your former employment. Therefore you need to notify the Pensions Administrator of your re-employment as your pension could be overpaid if you do not. If this happens, the overpayment will be recovered from your future pension payments. 

Please note that:  

  • If returning in a uniformed or non-uniformed role, your pension will be abated (if applicable), until you cease employment

Taking up employment outside the fire service will NOT affect your Firefighter retirement pension in any way.

On final retirement when re-employment comes to an end, pensioners who have had their pension abated, will receive their full Firefighter pension.

Those who made further pension contributions will receive separate retirement benefits of a pension and lump sum entitlement based on the length of service and pensionable pay in the re-employment.

An example of how abatement will work:

Final salary before retiring

£28,000

FPS (1992/2006)

£14,000

Maximum allowed without affecting your pension       

£14,000

New employment in Fire Service

£17,000

Difference

£3,000

FPS (1992/2006) will now be

£11,000

 

If you are re-employed in any capacity with any fire and rescue authority and are already in receipt a Firefighters pension, you must:  

  • inform your new Fire Authority and Pensions Administrator that you are receiving a Firefighters pension; and
  • include your salary, grade and hours when you write to the Pensions Administrator. Also inform them of any subsequent change 

Protected Pension Age (PPA)

The minimum age at which a pension can be taken was increased on 6 April 2010 from 50 to 55. Therefore some members taking a pension and/or lump sum benefit before the normal minimum pension age may be liable for a tax charge (unless retirement was on the grounds of ill-health). 

Members paying into a scheme that allowed them to take their benefits without consent before the age of 55 were entitled to keep their earlier normal minimum pension age, providing that they were a member of that scheme on 5 April 2006. This is known as the member’s ‘Protected Pension Age (PPA)’.  

PPA can be lost however during re-employment and in other circumstances including where the main purpose (or one of the main purposes) for early entitlement to benefits is to avoid paying tax or national insurance contributions. 

An example of how this applies during re-employment:

The 1992 Firefighters Pension Scheme is exempt from this provision, and members have a protected right to access their benefits before age 55, in accordance with the rules of the scheme. These protected rights will be lost and the individual may be liable to tax on their pension benefits if, after taking pension benefits, the individual is employed by:  

  • the same employer
  • any person connected with that employer; or
  • an employer who is part of the same pension scheme 

UNLESS one of the following re-employment conditions apply: 

  • compulsory recall by the Armed Forces
  • break in employment of at least six months
  • break in employment of at least one month and scheme rules provide that benefits may be abated (withdrawn in whole or in part); or
  • break in employment of at least one month and the re-employment is materially different 

For full details, see the following HMRC guidance (Pensions Tax Manual). The PPA Factsheet on this page also provides further details of circumstances where PPA can be lost leading to a tax charge. 

If you are considering re-employment after accessing pension benefits, it is advisable to contact HMRC regarding tax and national insurance, as it will have an impact on your tax code.

It is important to stress that it would be advantageous to discuss any re-employment intentions or request for re-employment as early as possible with the HR Department before the proposed retirement date as each Fire Authority has its own policy on re-employment.

Guides and Factsheets



Latest Update :
31 March 2020
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