Your guide to retiring from the NHS in Scotland

When you’re ready to apply for your NHS pension, you’ll have a number of different retirement options available depending on your age and which section (or sections) of the scheme holds your benefits.

Retirement at normal pension age

Once you reach your normal pension age, your accrued benefits will be paid in full with no reduction. Normal pension ages for each section or scheme are shown in the table below.




2015  / CARE

Normal Pension Age 60* 65 State Pension Age**

Notes: *Members with Special Class or Mental Health Officer status can normally retire from age 55. **Normal pension age is equal to State Pension age or 65 years, whichever is later.

Taking early retirement

The earliest age you can retire and claim your pension is called your minimum pension age. If you retire between your minimum and normal pension age your benefits will normally be paid with an actuarial reduction to reflect the fact that they could be in payment for a longer period. See the table below for the minimum and normal pension ages in each section or scheme.

Scheme / Section

1995 Section

2008 Section

 2015 / CARE Scheme

Minimum Pension Age 55* 55 55
Normal Pension Age 60** 65 State Pension Age***

Notes: *If you were an active member of the 1995 section between 31 March 2000 and 5 April 2006, you may be able to claim your pension from age 50.  ** Members of the 1995 Section who hold Special Class or Mental Health Officer status can normally retire from age 55 without an actuarial reduction for early retirement. *** Normal pension age is equal to State Pension age or 65 years, whichever is later.

If you hold Special Class or Mental Health Officer status 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 service after 30 March 2000 can take voluntary early retirement and receive a reduced pension.

If you take early retirement, any benefits your dependants will be entitled to receive will be based on your full pension.

Retirement due to ill health

If you have a minimum of two years’ service, are not currently receiving an ill health pension, and will be leaving your employment solely because of permanent ill health, you may be able to claim your pension benefits early without reduction.

There are two tiers of ill health retirement benefits, and the benefits you receive (subject to independent medical assessment) will be dependent on whether or not you’re capable of undertaking employment elsewhere.




Lower Tier Permanently unable to do current job due to ill health

Accrued pension to date of retirement with no early retirement reduction

Upper Tier Permanently unable to carry out any regular employment of like duration Lower tier benefits plus enhancement of up to two-thirds of your prospective service, pro-rata for part time workers.

Please note, if you’re awarded upper tier ill health benefits and return to work, your benefits will be affected. Further information about returning to work if you receive upper tier benefits can be found here.

Terminal ill health

If you become seriously ill with a life expectancy of less than 12 months, you can apply to exchange all your ill health benefits for a one-off, usually tax-free, lump sum payment.

Further information about claiming your benefits on grounds of ill health can be found here.

Deferred members

If you have preserved benefits, your pension is calculated in the same way as a normal retirement pension and is based on your pay and service details at the time you left the scheme. Preserved benefits are index linked and will attract Pensions Increase from the date of leaving to take account of the rise in the cost of living. Preserved benefits are normally paid when you reach your normal pension age, which is 60, 65 or your State Pension age depending on which section of the scheme you are in.

You’ll find more information on preserved benefits and deferred membership here.

Premature retirement due to redundancy or ‘interests of the efficiency of the service’

If your employment is terminated because of redundancy or in the interests of efficiency of the service, you may qualify for premature retirement and receive your benefits early.

To qualify, you’ll have to have reached your minimum pension age and have a minimum of two years’ qualifying service. Your employer must also certify that you’ve had at least two years continuous NHS employment and that your employment is being terminated either by reason of redundancy or in the interests of efficiency of the service.

If you qualify, you can apply to take your pension early, based on your membership to the date you left employment, with no actuarial reduction applied for early payment.

Please note that if you do choose to receive early payment of an unreduced pension, your employer will offset the costs of paying the benefits against any possible redundancy payment.

If you’ve transitioned from the 1995 Section to the 2015 Scheme and claim your pension early due to redundancy or in the interests of the efficiency of the service before age 55, only your benefits from the 1995 Section will be available. This is providing you have a minimum pension age of 50 in the 1995 Section of the scheme. If you’ve transitioned from the 2008 Section to the 2015 Scheme you may claim your pension early due to redundancy or interests of efficiency from both the 2015 Scheme and from your earlier membership. You must, however, have reached the scheme minimum pension age of 55.

How much will I get?

This depends upon your circumstances, however your employer will provide you with any relevant information including a statement of estimated NHS pension benefits.

What if I have more than one NHS job?

You can either take your NHS pension benefits from all your NHS jobs, or just from the post you are leaving, providing you have reached the minimum pension age in the relevant Scheme.

What happens if I am paying additional contributions?

If you’re buying added years or a bigger lump sum for scheme membership before 25 March 1972 by paying extra contributions from your pay; and/or buying Additional Pension by instalments, you cannot have those payments back if you’re forced to leave NHS employment early.

You’ll be credited with the extra benefits you’ve already paid for, but if you choose to claim your pension, the benefits you get from the additional contributions will be reduced because your benefits are being paid before your expected retirement date.

Late retirement – 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme only

If you’re in either the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme and remain employed after your normal pension age, your pension will be increased when you do claim your benefits using the ‘late retirement factors’ determined by the Government Actuary’s Department.

If you’re in the 2008 scheme, any of your pension earned before age 65 will be increased to take account of the fact it’s being paid later than your normal pension age.

If you’re in the 2015 scheme, if you take your benefits after State Pension age, your benefits accrued to that date will be increased to take into account of the fact that they’re being taken later.

Partial retirement – 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme only

On reaching age 55, if you’re a member of the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme, you’ll become eligible to take some of your pension if your pensionable pay is reduced by 10% or more of the pensionable pay you received in the preceding 12 months.

To be eligible for Partial Retirement you must:

  • be at least age 55
  • be an active member of the Scheme
  • have had a reduction in your actual pensionable pay of at least 10% (for GPs a 10% reduction in commitment is required)
  • have had the previous level of pensionable pay for at least 12 months
  • expect the new level of pensionable pay to last at least 12 months
  • not have already drawn down on two occasions

Partial Retirement benefits paid between the ages of 55 and your normal pension age will be actuarially reduced.

If you have benefits in both the 1995 Section and the 2015 Scheme, you can claim partial retirement benefits only from the 2015 Scheme subject to satisfying the appropriate eligibility conditions. This is because partial retirement is not an option in the 1995 Section.

To continue to qualify for your pension, if your pensionable pay increases within 12 months of its earlier reduction you’ll cease to be entitled to receive the pension you’ve chosen.

How to claim your pension

If you’re in active employment and wish to claim your pension, contact your employer and they’ll provide your application form.

If you’ve left NHS employment and have preserved benefits, download the application form - NHS:RET on our Forms page and complete and submit Part 1. You’ll also have to include a photocopy of your birth certificate with your completed application form.

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