Your guide to deferred membership
If you’ve made contributions to any of the Scottish firefighters' pension schemes but have stopped paying into your scheme either because you’ve left the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service or you've opted out, your membership will be deferred.
Your options in deferred membership depend on how long you've been paying into the scheme when you leave.
If you have less than three months’ qualifying service you can:
- apply for a refund of contributions which will be paid less deductions for tax and National Insurance (just complete the Opt Out form and forward it to your payroll department)
- apply to transfer your contributions to another pension scheme.
If you leave with more than three months' qualifying service, you can apply to transfer the value of your benefits to another pension scheme or you can preserve your benefits until you either re-join the scheme at any time before your normal pension age or you apply to take your benefits at retirement. Please note that if you leave The Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 and re-join The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service pension arrangements in the future, you'll be placed into the 2006 scheme or 2015 scheme, depending on how close you were to retirement at 1 April 2012 and your accrued service.
What are preserved benefits?
A preserved benefit is a benefit that’s being held in the scheme for you until you qualify to take it.
Preserved benefits are calculated based on your service and salary to the date you left the scheme and they’re re-valued annually in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index.
You should note that although your actual pension benefits remain the same when they’re preserved, the scope of your death benefits will change when you leave the scheme.
When will you qualify for benefits?
The three different firefighters' pension schemes have different rules on when deferred members can take their preserved benefits. These are:
Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 - preserved benefits are put into payment at age 60.
New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 - deferred pension age is 65 but benefits can be taken on an actuarially reduced basis from 55.
Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015 - deferred pension age is your State Pension age but benefits can be taken on an actuarially reduced basis from 55.
If you're considering taking your preserved pension benefits early, please contact SPPA so we can provide you with information tailored to your personal situation.
Ill health retirement
Preserved benefits may become payable before your normal pension age if you become permanently incapable of any further employment due to ill-health reasons. However, before payment on these grounds can be made, your ill health retirement application would have to be assessed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Once approved, SPPA will calculate your ill health award.
What happens when you have a break in service?
If you have a break in pensionable employment of more than five years that ends after 1 April 2015, it’s known as a ‘disqualifying break’ and can have an impact on the benefits you can receive.
Disqualifying breaks can lead to you being placed in one of the newer schemes if you rejoin in the future. In some circumstances, a disqualifying break can also mean that benefits in earlier schemes are calculated using the salary you were earning at the time you started your break rather than your most recent salary.
How to apply for your preserved pension
You should contact SPPA at least three months before your intended retirement date to confirm your contact details. We'll then send you the appropriate documentation in order to process your pension.