1 Your options
As an active member of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 (FPS 1992) you can:
- retire on reaching your normal pension age (NPA) of 55
- retire on a voluntarily basis from age 55
- retire due to permanent disablement at any age with an unreduced and possibly enhanced pension.
And you will receive:
- a pension for life
- a possible tax-free lump sum.
If you are an active member, when you decide to retire by leaving your employment as a firefighter on reaching your NPA your pension will be payable without reduction.
You also have the option to retire by leaving your employment as a firefighter once you reach age 50 and have built up at least 25 years' active scheme membership in the FPS 1992. Even though your pension would start payment before you have reached NPA, your retirement benefits would not be reduced to reflect the early payment.
There may be adverse tax consequences if you continue your employment as a retained or voluntary firefighter after your date of retirement if, at the time of your retirement, you are:
- under age 55
- employed by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Authority as a whole-time or part-time firefighter and also as a retained or voluntary firefighter.
If this applies to you, please contact your HR adviser to discuss your ongoing employment.
On retirement you will be given the option to convert pension to a lump sum, this is known as commutation. The amount of lump sum you would receive is determined by multiplying each £1 of pension you give up by an age related factor provided by the scheme actuary. There are limits on the amount of pension you can commute and take tax-free and you may not commute any part of any higher tier ill health pension that you may be awarded.
Full details of your commutation options will be provided with details of how to elect to commute your pension when you come to retire.
For details of the options available to you at retirement, please see the following flow-diagram.
2 Normal pension age (NPA)
Your normal pension age (NPA) is age 55 if you are retiring from active service and your retirement benefits will be paid without reduction.
If you leave the pension scheme before reaching age 55, the NPA will not apply to you. Instead you will be subject to the deferred pension age of age 60 and your deferred benefits will be paid from that age without reduction.
3 If you can no longer work due to illness or injury
If you have to retire at any age due to permanent disablement, you may be able to draw your benefits immediately without reduction for early payment.
Your employer will determine whether you are entitled to receive a lower or higher tier ill health pension. The conditions that must be met before your employer can determine your entitlement are as follows:
- An Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner certifies that in their opinion you are permanently disabled from performing the duties of your role.
- You are dismissed as a result of the incapacity.
If your employer determines that you are entitled to the payment of a lower tier ill health pension you will be able to draw the pension you have built up at the date of your retirement. On retirement you will be given the option to convert pension to a lump sum, this is known as commutation. The amount of lump sum you would receive is determined by multiplying each £1 of pension you give up by an age related factor provided by the scheme actuary.
There are limits on the amount of pension you can commute and take tax-free and you may not commute any part of your higher tier ill health award. Full details of your commutation options will be provided with details of how to elect to commute your pension when you come to retire.
- An Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner certifies that in their opinion you are permanently disabled from undertaking any other regular employment for 30 hours a week on average over 12 consecutive months.
- You are entitled to a lower tier ill health pension.
If your employer determines that you are entitled to the payment of a higher tier ill health pension, in addition to the payment of the lower tier ill health pension, you will receive an enhancement to your pensionable service.
If you have less than 10 years' pensionable service each year of pensionable service you hold will reckon at 2/60ths. If you have at least 10 but less than 13 years' pensionable service your pensionable service will be increased to 20/60ths. If you have at least 13 years' pensionable service you will be awarded seven extra years of pensionable service.
If you qualify, your ill health pension will be paid unreduced.
4 Pensions for dependants
Pensions for your spouse or civil partner
In addition to the death grant, a pension will be paid to your surviving spouse or civil partner. Please be aware that the term ‘spouse’ does not cover cohabiting partners to whom you are not legally married. The pension payable would be as follows:
- For the first 13 weeks, the pay you would have received.
- Following the first 13 weeks, half of the pension you would have received had you retired on the grounds of ill health with entitlement to a higher tier ill health pension.
- For the first 13 weeks, the pay you would have received.
- Following the first 13 weeks, half of the pension that is attributable to the pensionable service you built up after 5 April 1988 and that you would have received had you retired on the grounds of ill health with entitlement to a higher tier ill health pension.
A surviving partner’s pension is payable for life. It would not stop on marriage, remarriage or upon entering into a new partnership.
Pensions for eligible children
Generally, eligible children will be those of your marriage or civil partnership, an adopted child, step-child or any other child provided the child was substantially dependent on you at the time of death. Your child also needs to be below 16, or below 23 and continuing in full-time education. Dependent disabled children may be eligible at any age if they meet certain criteria. If your child meets any of these conditions but is married or has entered into a civil partnership then a pension cannot be paid to them.
Allocation enables you to give up part of your pension at retirement to provide, on your death, a pension for a surviving spouse, civil partner or other dependant.
The allocated pension would be paid from your date of death but if your nominee were to die before you, the portion of pension allocated would be restored to you with effect from their date of death. An election to allocate:
- must be given no later than the day before retirement benefits become payable and no earlier than two months before
- can be in respect of more than one beneficiary
- is subject to medical evidence of good health and normal life expectancy
- may allocate up to a third of the amount of your annual rate of retirement pension.
The beneficiary of an allocation election must be a person who, when the allocation election is made is:
- the spouse, civil partner of the active member or the deferred member or
- any other person the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Authority consents is substantially dependent on the active member or deferred member and would have been a dependant of the member if the member had died when the election was made.
In order to allocate part of your pension to your next of kin, please contact the Pensions Team.