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About this guide

We have tried to make navigation as simple as possible. Each section is aimed at dealing with specific pension events.

SPPA: aims, objectives and responsibilities

Key aims

  • to administer, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, the public service pension, premature retirement compensation and injury benefit schemes, for which the Scottish Ministers have administrative responsibility, in order to provide an efficient and effective service for the benefit of those who use the schemes at an economic cost to the public purse
  • to prepare in accordance with government policy, the regulations governing these and other schemes, for which Scottish Ministers have regulatory responsibility
  • to determine questions under the regulations, on which there is a right of appeal, to Scottish Ministers and to advise Scottish Ministers on occupational pensions policy

Key objectives

  • to provide a timely, accurate and helpful service to members of the schemes and other employees who may be entitled to benefits eg: Injury Benefits administered by SPPA, and their employers
  • to collect and pay, promptly and accurately, sums due under these schemes, and to arrange for their proper accounting and budgeting
  • to publish timely and accurate information about changes to scheme policies and regulations to local authorities and other bodies administering schemes regulated by SPPA
  • to provide value for money in delivering cost effective service
  • to reduce, over time, the ratio of running costs to case-load
  • to provide appropriate policy advice to the Ministers and Departments of The Scottish Government on their pensions responsibilities and regulate and develop the schemes for which they are responsible in accordance with Government policies

Key responsibilities

All Employers and pension scheme administrators who provide an occupational pension scheme for an employee have responsibilities under the Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996 (see www.opsi.gov.uk)

SPPA's operational responsibilities are to:

  • maintain accurate and up to date records for scheme members and pensioners based on information provided by employers
  • determine the day to day operational policy for running the scheme
  • award timely and accurate benefits under the NHS Superannuation, Injury Benefit and Compensation for Premature Retirement Schemes
  • ensure that Employing Authorities make timely and accurate payments of employers' and employees' contributions to the NHSSSS and maintain and implement such information and other systems as may be necessary to fulfil these functions
  • preserve benefits for early leavers
  • provide estimates of benefits entitlement on a regular basis in line with Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996
  • pay transfer values for members moving out of the scheme and receive payments for people transferring into the scheme.
  • pay refunds of contributions in line with current regulations
  • process applications to purchase additional benefits under the scheme
  • publicise the scheme and encourage awareness among NHS employers and NHS employees about the scheme and the benefits available
  • to maintain a continually mutually beneficial working relationship with NHS employers and to assist them in their duties
  • to adhere to agreed time limits

About The National Health Service Superannuation (Scotland) scheme

The scheme is a statutory occupational pension scheme and was contracted out of the State Second Pension (previously referred to as SERPS) up to 5 April 2016. It is a defined benefit scheme and is based on membership during NHS employment and transfer values into NHSSSS.

Employing authorities are obliged to offer the scheme to all eligible employees they employ.

The NHSSS(S) was reformed in line with UK Pension Reforms, on the 1 April 2008. Members who were in the NHSSS(S) prior to 1 April 2008 are subject to updated arrangements. This is referred to as the 1995 section.

Those joining the scheme for the first time on or after 1 April 2008 but before 1 April 2015 were subject to different arrangements. This is referred to as the 2008 section.

Active members of the 1995 section were also given a one off choice to move to the 2008 Section. This is known as the 'Choice' exercise and took place in 2010.

Those joining the scheme for the first time on or after 1 April 2015 are subject to new arrangements. This is referred to as the 2015 scheme. Members who were active in the scheme at 1 April 2015 may also have transitioned to the 2015 scheme on or after 1 April 2015.

Active members of the 1995 and 2008 schemes were offered a second 'choice' exercise depending on which scheme they were a member of. This exercise ended in August 2016.

Brief overview of the benefits for members on joining the pension scheme

Benefits for 1995 section members

  • normal pension age (NPA) of 60 for most members (55 for members of special classes and Mental Health Officers (MHOs))
  • a retirement pension based on 1/80th of pensionable pay per year of service based on the best of the last 3 years pensionable pay before retirement
  • normally, a tax free retirement lump sum of 3 x pension with the option to give up part of the pension for a lump sum up to 25% of pension value (Commutation). An estimate can be calculated through our Commutation Calculator.
  • preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before age 60 without being entitled to an immediate pension and at least 2 years qualifying service has accrued

Benefits for 2008 section members

  • normal pension age of 65 for all members
  • no special class/MHO retirement rights apply
  • a retirement pension based on 1/60th of pensionable pay per year of service. Pension will be calculated on the basis of the average of the best 3 consecutive year's pensionable pay out of the last 10 years before retirement
  • option to exchange part of pension benefits for cash lump sum at retirement, up to 25% of overall pension value (Commutation).
  • preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before NPA without being entitled to an immediate pension and if at least 2 years qualifying service is accrued
  • option to take Partial Retirement and continue to accrue further pension

Common to both 1995 and 2008 sections

  • life insurance of 2 years pensionable pay if still in superannuable employment at date of death
  • pension and allowances for a legal spouse, registered civil partner or surviving partner from the date of death. Dependant children's pensions are payable until age 23 or longer depending on certain circumstances
  • benefits if retiring because of permanent ill-health
  • benefits if retiring early
  • Injury Benefits (partially closed, further information can be found here)
  • options to increase contributions to increase benefits. Members will be able to purchase Additional Pension of up to £5000 of additional annual pension
  • pensions and allowances are index linked
  • pension benefits can be transferred in to and out of the scheme

The NHSSS(S) introduced new tiered contribution rates from 1st April 2008 - contribution rates are directly linked to individual earnings for a fairer way to fund new benefits and future costs.

Benefits for 2015 scheme members

  • normal pension age of State Pension Age (SPA) for all members
  • no special class/MHO retirement rights apply
  • a retirement pension based on 1/54th of each year's pensionable pay. Revalued and increased in line with CPI.
  • option to exchange part of pension benefits for cash lump sum at retirement, up to 25% of overall pension value (Commutation)
  • preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before NPA without being entitled to an immediate pension and if at least 2 years qualifying service is accrued
  • life insurance of 2 years pensionable pay if still in superannuable employment at date of death
  • pension and allowances for a legal spouse, registered civil partner or surviving partner from the date of death. Dependant children's pensions are payable until age 23 or longer depending on certain circumstances
  • benefits if retiring because of permanent ill-health
  • benefits if retiring early
  • options to increase contributions to increase benefits. Members will be able to purchase Additional Pension of up to £6500 of additional annual pension.
  • pensions and allowances are index linked
  • pension benefits can be transferred in to and out of the scheme

Employer Responsibilities

All Employers and Pension Scheme Administrators who provide an occupational pension scheme for employee have responsibilities under the Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996.

The NHSSSS is administered on behalf of the Scottish Ministers by the SPPA.

The Regulations, however, also place certain obligations on employers and specifically require employers to fulfill certain functions.

A copy of the NHSSSS Regulations can be found here.

Main responsibilities

  • To maintain a continuing mutually beneficial working relationship with SPPA and to assist them in their duties.
  • To assess and collect employer and employee pension contributions in an accurate manner.
  • To make payment of employer and employee pension contributions at the correct rate and in a timely manner to the SPPA.
  • To maintain accurate employment records for all scheme members and submit these records to the SPPA in a timely manner.
  • To pay initial widows/widower's/partners pensions which are later reclaimed from SPPA.
  • To forward applications and related documentation to the SPPA within specified time scales.
  • To provide a timely and accurate service to all employees in relation to scheme benefits by the provision of ongoing guidance and information.
  • To comply with the requirements of the Contracts of Employment Act relating to Pensions.
  • To adhere to agreed time limits.

Additional Information for Employers

Employers should ensure that all employees concerned with administering the NHSSSS are fully aware of their obligations.