Understanding your retirement options

In this section

  • Understand when you can retire
  • Consider what benefits are available

Planning for retirement

When you're thinking about making a plan for your retirement, it helps to build a good understanding of all your options. Our quick guide will help you to consider your options and to make the right choices for your needs.

  1. Work out when you can retire

    Your normal pension age depends on which scheme (or schemes) you’re in. To receive the full level of benefits, you'll have to reach your scheme's maximum service or normal pension age before you retire. If you decide to retire before your normal pension age or you reach the maximum service allowed, your pension will be reduced, unless you’re granted ill-health retirement. 

    Each scheme had different rules on normal pension and maximum service (see below) - and you may be a member of more than one scheme. Some of the police pension schemes also have compulsory retirement ages, so you may also have to factor this in.

    Police Pension Scheme 1987

    The maximum amount of 'reckonable service' (which is the period your pension will be based on) in the Police Pension Scheme 1987 is 30 years.

    The normal pension age in this scheme depends on how long you've been a member of the scheme.

    Actively contributing members with 25 years’ pensionable service have a normal pension age of 50, although you can access your pension benefits before the age of 50 if you've achieved 30 years’ pensionable service.

    If you have less than 25 years’ service when you reach the compulsory retirement age for your rank, you'll retire with a 'short service pension'. Compulsory retirement ages are:

    - constables, sergeants, inspectors or chief inspectors: 60 years

    - officers with a rank higher than any of the above: 65 years.

    In some cases, the Chief Constable or Police Scotland may approve an extension of service allowing you to retire later than the compulsory retirement age for your rank.

    Voluntary retirement with a short services pension is possible prior to your compulsory retirement age as follows:

    - constables or sergeants, 55 years

    - inspectors or superintendents, 60 years

    Different arrangements can apply to chief constables or deputy chief constable. For more information, please contact SPPA.

    The normal pension age for deferred members with a preserved pension is age 60.

    New Police Pension Scheme 2006 

    The normal pension age for actively contributing members is 55, unless you qualify for an ill-health pension. 

    You must retire no later than the compulsory retirement age for your rank, unless the Chief Constable or Police Scotland has approved an extension of service. Compulsory retirement ages are:

    - constables, sergeants, inspectors or chief inspectors: 60 years

    - officers with a rank higher than any of the above: 65 years.

    Different arrangements can apply to chief constables or deputy chief constable. For more information, please contact SPPA.

    The normal pension age for deferred members with a preserved pension is 65.

    The Police 2015 Scheme

    The normal pension age for actively contributing members is 60 but you may, with your employer’s agreement, apply to take your benefits at any time after 55 on a reduced basis.

    If you've earned pension benefits in either the Police Pension Scheme 1987 scheme or the New Police Pension Scheme 2006, the rules concerning early retirement may be different. Please contact us for more information in these circumstances. 

    If you're a deferred member with a preserved pension, your normal pension age is the same as your State Pension age.

  2. Consider how you want to take your pension benefits

    When you're ready to retire, you'll have the opportunity to decide on how you want your pension to be paid. All of the schemes offer a combination of annual pension and a one-off 'pension commencement lump sum' which is paid free of tax.

    Police Pension Scheme 1987

    The Police Pension Scheme 1987 allows you exchange part of the value of your pension permanently, for a lump sum. The exact amount you will be able to receive as a lump sum depends on a number of variables, including your length of service and a range of factors supplied by the Government Actuary's Department. 

    In practice, SPPA will provide personalised calculations ahead of your retirement to illustrate: 

    the maximum amount of lump sum you can take (which may incur a tax charge if it exceeds HMRC's limit for tax-free lump sums) and; 

    a tax-free lump sum limited to 25% of your pension's value. 

    This will help you to make an informed decision on your favoured balance between annual pension and lump sum. 

    To estimate your annual pension and lump sum at any time, you can also use our pension calculator

    New Police Pension Scheme 2006 

    The New Police Pension Scheme 2006 scheme provides its members with an automatic tax-free lump sum of four times their annual pension amount. However, you are permitted to exchange some, or all, of that lump sum for an increased annual pension. 

    A personal illustration can be provided by SPPA ahead of the date you intend to retire, allowing you to make an informed decision on your personal balance between annual pension and lump sum. 

    To estimate your annual pension and lump sum at any time, you can also use our pension calculator

    Please note if you choose to exchange your lump sum for annual pension it will only affect your personal pension - survivor's and dependents' pensions cannot be increased in this way. 

    The Police 2015 Scheme

    Members of the Police Pension Scheme 2015 scheme have the option to commute up to a maximum of 35.7% of the value of their pension to receive their tax-free lump sum. If you opt to commute part of your annual pension for a one-off lump sum at retirement, you’ll receive £12 of lump sum for every £1 of annual pension you give up. 

    A personal illustration can be provided by SPPA ahead of the date you intend to retire, allowing you to make an informed decision on your personal balance between annual pension and lump sum. 

    To estimate your annual pension and lump sum at any time, you can also use our pension calculator.

  3. Contact your HR department

    To formally start your retirement process you'll need to contact your HR department. They'll advise what application forms you'll need to complete and any other issues you may need to consider. Once complete, they'll forward us the information we need to calculate your pension benefits.

    Please allow up to 28 working days for us to process your retirement award.

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