A brief guide to your retirement options
Register for My Pension Online
My Pension Online is our secure, online membership services area where you can see your latest annual statement and use our pension and lump sum calculators to help plan your retirement.
In the run up to your retirement it’s well worth taking some time to explore all your options before making a plan to suit your needs.
Our quick guide will help you consider your options and make the choices that suit your needs:
Check that you qualify for benefits
In order to qualify for any of the benefits offered by your pension scheme when you retire, you must have completed:
- at least five years’ pensionable employment (at any time) if you joined before 5 April 1988
- at least two years’ pensionable employment if you joined after 5 April 1988
- two years’ pensionable employment at any time, if you were in pensionable employment on 6th April 1988.
For part-time work, the whole period counts towards pension qualification but only the days you actually work count towards your benefits. For example, working half-time for a year is one year's qualification, but only six months for calculating benefits.
Qualifying service can be accumulated in either the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme (before April 2015) or in the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme (after April 2015) or a combination of both. Pension rights that have been transferred from another scheme may also count towards your qualifying service.
Work out when you can retire
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.
Your normal pension age depends on which scheme (or schemes) you’re in and when you joined the scheme.
Your normal pension age could be:
- 60 if you joined the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme before 1 April 2007 and didn’t have a break where you were out of the scheme for more than 5 years before 31 March 2008 or;
- 65 if you Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme on or after 1 April 2007 or you had a 5 year break in service at some point during your career or;
- State Pension age if you’re a member of the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme 2015 – unless you were less than 13 years and 6 months from your normal pension age in the STSS when this scheme was introduced in 2015. If that was the case, you’ll have received a ‘protection’ which allows you to take full benefits either at your previous normal pension age of 60 or 65 (full protection) or at a time between 65 and your State Pension age (tapered protection). You can read more about full and tapered protection here.
Consider how you want to take your benefits
Although some members of the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme receive a combination of annual pension plus a compulsory tax-free lump, the newer schemes offer what’s know as ‘pension commutation’ as an option. Basically, this means converting some of your annual pension into a one-off cash payment. 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 calculator to estimate your benefits here.
Complete your pension application forms
You 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 as a teacher, download your application form here or contact us.