Your step-by-step guide to retirement
My Pension Online is our secure, online membership services area where you can see your latest NHS pension annual statement and use our pension and lump sum calculators to help you plan ahead for your retirement.
Please note that this service is only available to actively contributing members. If you have preserved benefits and are thinking about retiring within the next year, you can contact us to request a valuation (this process can take up to 12 weeks).
It’s always worth taking some time to explore your retirement options – and to plan ahead so that you’re well prepared for your retirement. Our quick guide will help you consider your options and make the choices that suit your needs.
Work out when you can retire
Your normal pension age depends on which scheme (or schemes) you're in and when you joined the scheme. The earliest you can take benefits from your scheme is when you reach the age of 55, unless you're granted ill health benefits. To receive the full level of benefits, however, you have to reach the 'normal pension age' for your particular scheme (or schemes) before you retire.
1995 section normal pension age is 60 (or 55 if you have Special Class status).
2008 section normal pension age is 65.
2015 scheme normal pension age is the same as your State Pension age.
Consider how you want to take your benefitsAlthough some members of the NHS pension schemes receive a combination of annual pension plus a compulsory tax-free lump, the newer schemes give you an option to exchange some of your annual pension for a one-off tax-free lump sum. This is known as ‘pension commutation’ and you can take up to 25% of the value of your fund tax-free and you’ll find more information on commutation here and a handy commutation calculator here.
What about early retirement?Basically, there are two types of early retirement – compulsory (where you’re retired prematurely because of redundancy or in the interests of service efficiency) or voluntary where you request to retire earlier than your normal pension age.
If you’re made redundant or retired in the interests of efficiency, your benefits can be paid without reduction immediately upon leaving. You must have reached minimum pension age (55) and have at least two years’ continuous service.
If you have more than one job in the NHS you can either take your benefits only in respect of the employment from which you’re retiring prematurely and remain a member of the scheme in your other posts, or you can take your benefits in respect of all your pensionable employments. If you do this, you must leave all your jobs for at least 24 hours, and you’ll not be able to re-join the scheme under any further employment.
If you choose voluntary early retirement, your benefits will be reduced to take into account the fact they will potentially be being paid over a longer period of time.
Members of the 1995 Section can choose to take voluntary early retirement from age 50 if your service began before 6 April 2006 or 55 if it started after that date. Members of the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme can claim voluntary early retirement from age 55.
If you hold Special Class status in the 1995 scheme, and choose to retire before age 55, your benefits will be reduced as if your normal pension age was 60.
Members with preserved benefits who had active service in the scheme after 30 March 2000 are also entitled to take voluntary early retirement on reduced pension. Please apply by contacting SPPA in the first instance.
If you take early retirement, your dependants will still get any benefits they’re entitled to, based on your full pension. Please note, in the unlikely event that your reduced pension is less than the Guaranteed Minimum Pension, you’ll not be able to take voluntary early retirement with a reduced pension.
Complete your pension application formsYou should apply to SPPA three months before you want to start taking benefits from the scheme. This could be at full retirement or earlier if you opt for a phased retirement where you’re working part-time and taking some pension benefits.
If you’re employed, ask your employer for your application form (as they have to complete a section of the form). If you aren’t currently employed by the NHS, download your application form here or contact SPPA.
You’ll need a separate form for each employment and please take time to carefully read the guidance notes.
If you are no longer a member of the scheme but have preserved benefits, please supply us with a copy of your birth certificate when you send us your completed application form.
Scottish Public Pensions Agency
7 Tweedside Park
Telephone: 01896 893000