1 Your options
As an active member you can:
- retire on reaching your normal pension age (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 normal pension age, your pension will be payable without reduction. If, at any age, you need to leave service due to permanent disablement, you may be considered for an ill health pension.
If the authority determine you should receive an ill health pension it would be payable without reduction. The type of ill health pension you receive will depend on whether your disablement meets the higher or lower tier ill health conditions.
- Higher tier
You must have a minimum of five years' active service in the Retained Firefighters’ Modified Pension Scheme 2006 (RFMPS 2006) or be treated as having five years' active service to receive this benefit. This will enable you to draw the retirement benefit you have built in your pension account plus an additional 2% of the pension you would have earned had you remained in service to age 60.
- Lower tier
You must have a minimum of three months' active service in the RFMPS 2006 or be treated as having three months' active service to receive this benefit which will enable you to draw the retirement benefit you have built in your pension account.
On retirement you will be given the option to convert pension to a tax-free 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 a fixed age related factor provided by the scheme actuary.
There are limits on the amount of pension you can commute 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.
Please ensure you provide us with as much notice as possible when you are retiring. This way we can guarantee to pay your pension and any lump sum in a timely manner.
It is advisable to check we are aware you are retiring at the same time you resign from your employment.
We cannot process retirement benefits until we are in receipt of the following documentation:
- pensions leaver form from your employer
- pension application form
- birth certificate/passport/driving licence, if requested to verify your date of birth.
2 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:
- You have three months' active membership in the Retained Firefighters’ Modified Pension Scheme 2006 (RFMPS 2006) or have transferred benefits from another pension arrangement.
- An Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner certifies that in their opinion you are incapable of performing any of the duties of the role in which you were last employed because of incapacity of mind or body and this incapacity will continue until age 55.
- 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 tax free lump sum (commutation). The amount of lump sum you would receive is determined by multiplying each £1 of pension you give up by a fixed-age related factor provided by the scheme actuary. There are limits on the amount of pension you can commute and full details of your commutation options will be provided with details of how to elect to commute your pension when you come to retire.
- You have a minimum of five years' active RFMPS 2006 membership or you are treated as having five years' active membership.
- An Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner certifies that in their opinion you are incapable of undertaking regular employment because of incapacity of mind or body and this incapacity will continue until age 60.
- 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 additional 2% of the pension you would have received had you remained in service to age 60. You will not be able to commute any part of your higher tier ill health pension.
We would work out your ill health enhancement using the following formula:
- 2% x whole-time pensionable pay x pensionable service x (prospective service to age 55 x pensionable service/period of scheme membership)
If you qualify, your ill health pension will be paid unreduced.
3 What is my normal pension age?
Under the Retained Firefighters' Modified Pension Scheme 2006 (RFMPS 2006) 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 of age 55 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.
4 Pensions for dependants
Pensions for your spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting partner
In addition to the death grant, a pension will be paid to your surviving partner and eligible children. A person is treated as a surviving partner if they are your spouse, civil partner or eligible cohabiting partner.
If you die in service and you are an active member, the surviving partner’s pension would be as follows:
- For the first 13 weeks, the pay you would have received. We will work out the weekly survivor’s pension using this formula:
- (whole-time pensionable pay/52.2) x (pensionable service/period of scheme membership)
- 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.
If your surviving partner is more than 12 years younger than you at the time of death a reduction will be made to the pension payable of up to 50% of the 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 your or your partner’s children who are below 18, or below 23 and continuing in full time education or attending a course of at least one year’s duration. Dependent disabled children may be eligible at any age if they meet certain criteria. If your child meets these conditions but is married or has entered into a civil partnership then a pension cannot be paid to them.
Eligible children will receive a pension after your death of a quarter of the pension you would have received had you retired on the ground of ill health with entitlement to a higher tier ill health pension. If there are more than two eligible children then the equivalent of two children’s pensions are split equally across the children.
If there is no surviving partner’s pension payable, the pension that would have been paid to the surviving partner will be paid to the eligible children in addition to their eligible child’s pension.
If there is more than one eligible child, the value of two children’s pensions, including the surviving partner’s pension where applicable, will be shared between all of the eligible children.
Allocation enables you to give up part of your pension at retirement to provide, on your death, a pension for a surviving 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 either:
- the spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the active member or the deferred member
- any other person the West Sussex Fire and 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.