1 How your pension is calculated
The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015) is a career average revalued earnings scheme. This means that the pension you build up is based on your annual pensionable pay for each year that you are a member of the FPS 2015.
It is calculated using the following formula:
- Pensionable pay x 1/59.7
Your pension is revalued each year by a Treasury Order to protect your pension from the effects of pay inflation. This revaluation ensures that your pension grows at the same rate as the Average Weekly Earnings Index while you are an active member.
When you retire your pension will increase by the cost of living as measured by Pensions Increase (Review) Orders.
2 When you can draw your retirement benefits
Normal pension age (NPA) is 60 but you can take your retirement benefits on the following:
- Late retirement
You can continue to work and contribute to the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015) if you wish. If you do continue beyond age 60 you would continue to receive the standard scheme benefits as well as receive an age addition. This will enhance the amount of pension you receive to reflect the fact that you have postponed receipt of your pension.
- Normal retirement
If you retire from active membership at age 60 the retirement benefits you have built up will be paid without reduction.
- Early retirement
If you have reached age 55 and wish to draw your retirement benefits you can give written notice to West Sussex Fire & Rescue Authority that you wish to receive your retirement benefits. Your retirement benefits would be payable with reduction to reflect the fact that your pension is being paid before you have reached NPA.
- Partial retirement
If you have reached age 55 and wished to draw your retirement benefits but still continue to work as a firefighter you can choose to draw your retirement benefits from a date agreed by West Susses Fire & Rescue Authority. If you draw your retirement benefits before age 60 they will be reduced to reflect the fact that your pension is being paid before you have reached NPA.
- Ill health retirement
If you leave service at any age due to permanent disablement, you may be considered for an ill health pension. If the authority determines 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.
- Employer-initiated retirement
If you reach age 55 but have not yet reached your 60th birthday, you may receive your retirement benefits without reduction for early payment if the authority terminates your employment. This would be after it had determined that a retirement pension should be awarded on the basis that it would ‘assist the economical, effective and efficient management of its functions’ having taken account of the costs likely to be incurred in the particular case.
On retirement you will be given the option to convert up to a quarter of your pension to a tax-free lump sum enabling you to receive £12 for each £1 of pension you give up. There are limits on the amount of pension you can convert and you will be provided with details of this option when you come to retire.
Reduction in lifetime allowance
If your pension savings are worth more than £1 million, you may need to protect your pension savings from the lifetime allowance tax charge.
3 Life cover
If you die in service and you are an active member of the scheme, a tax-free lump sum death grant of three times your pensionable pay will be payable at the discretion of the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Authority to your nominee(s), personal representative or any other person appearing to have been your relative or dependant.
Your final pay is the higher of:
- the pensionable pay you received in the last year
- the average of the pensionable pay you received in the last three years.
4 Income protection for your dependants
A pension will be paid to your surviving partner and eligible children, providing you have been a member of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015) for three or more months or have transferred other pension benefits into the scheme.
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:
- 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.
The pension paid to an eligible child is a quarter 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 there are more than two eligible children, then the equivalent of two children’s pensions are split equally across the children.