Transferring your benefits out of the Scottish Firefighters’ scheme
Warning: Beware of ‘pension liberation’ scams
If you’re thinking of transferring your benefits out of the scheme, please read the information provided by the Pensions Regulator on what are known as ‘pension liberation’ scams before you make a final decision.
What is a pension transfer?
If you’re leaving your job in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (or you’re choosing to leave the SFRS pension scheme) it’s possible to transfer the value of your accumulated pension benefits to another approved pension scheme or arrangement.
Transfers out can be made to Fire and Rescue Service schemes in England & Wales or Northern Ireland but note that these schemes are administered separately so a transfer will only take place if you request it. If you have continuous service between the schemes, the transfer will be processed on a ‘like for like’ basis.
Transfers out can also be made to a registered occupational pension scheme with defined benefits, but cannot be made to defined contribution schemes offering flexible benefits (unless you have less than 3 months’ service or, in some cases, have previously ‘transferred in’ service).
Transferring to a Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme
To find out if you are able to transfer benefits to a Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, please send the name and type of pension scheme you’re interested in transferring to our transfers team at email@example.com. They’ll then let you know if a transfer is possible – although, these days, overseas transfers are rare and may be subject to a tax charge. Further information on overseas transfers is available here.
Transfer time limits
You must apply for a transfer payment within six months of leaving Scottish Fire and Rescue Service employment or opting out of the SFRS scheme – or within twelve months for transfers to other UK public sector schemes. Time limits may be extended by the Fire authority at their discretion.
FPS members can’t transfer if they’re within a year of reaching the age of 60.
NFPS members can’t transfer if they’re within a year of reaching the age of 65.
Fire 2015 members, and Fire 2015 transitional members, must transfer before state pension age.
Please note that once a payment has been sent to your new scheme, the transfer cannot be reversed. If you change your mind during the transfer process, contact SPPA immediately.
Transferring out FAQs
How do I apply for a transfer?
Before requesting a transfer, ask your new provider for information on their transfer process and their willingness to accept a transfer from the SFRS Pension scheme. SPPA would normally receive the transfer request directly from your new provider, although we can accept transfer requests directly from you if your new provider will not request transfer details on your behalf.
When we receive the application, we’ll verify the receiving scheme’s eligibility and provide a transfer value as quickly as possible.
What happens once I’ve applied for a transfer?
First, we’ll calculate a transfer value that will be guaranteed for a period of three months and supply it to your new pension provider along with the necessary discharge forms. Your new provider should then advise you of the benefits the transfer value will buy in their scheme. This gives you the opportunity to compare benefits offered by your new provider against those preserved in the SFRS scheme. You should also compare the normal retirement age in the SFRS scheme with that of your new provider as, sometimes, the normal retirement age may change as a result of the transfer. If you decide to go ahead with the transfer, you’ll have to sign the discharge forms and send them to your new scheme so they can request the transfer on your behalf.
How is a transfer payment worked out?
A transfer payment is worked out by converting the value of the accrued pension rights into a cash equivalent, using factors supplied by the Government Actuary’s Department.
Is the transfer value guaranteed?
A transfer value is guaranteed for three months from the date of calculation. If a request for payment is received within the three month guarantee period, SPPA will pay the guaranteed amount. If the request is received after the three month guaranteed period, we’ll recalculate the transfer value and pay that amount to the new scheme.
Do I have to pay for the transfer valuation?
We can provide one transfer valuation a year free of charge. Any additional valuations will be charged for and the current rates are available here.
Are the SFRS Pension Schemes members of the ‘Public Sector Transfer Club Scheme’ arrangements?
Yes. You can find further information about the club schemes here.
Can you tell me if transferring is my best option?
No. SPPA isn’t able to give financial advice to members of any of the schemes we administer. However, you may wish to seek independent financial advice before deciding whether to transfer your benefits.
Will my normal retirement age be affected by the transfer?
If you’re transferring to another UK based Fire and Rescue authority, and you have continuous service, your transfer will be processed on a ‘like for like’ basis with no change to your normal pension age.
If you’re transferring to another occupational pension scheme, it’s highly likely your normal retirement age will increase once you’ve transferred. Your normal retirement age in the SFRS scheme is always shown on the transfer options forms and your new provider should detail the normal retirement age in their scheme.
Contact the SPPA Transfers Team
Scottish Public Pensions Agency
7 Tweedside Park
Telephone: 01896 893 000 and ask for Transfers when prompted.
Fax: 01896 893 214
More information about the Pension Schemes Bill can be found here.