Your guide to deferred membership 

If you’ve made contributions to either the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme or the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme 2015 but have stopped paying either because you’ve left teaching or opted out of the scheme, then your membership can be deferred.

Deferred membership gives you a number of options – depending on the length of your previous service.

Less than two years’ qualifying service you can:

  • apply for a refund of contributions which will be paid less deductions for tax and National Insurance
  • preserve your contributions if you’re intending to re-join the scheme in the future although you won’t qualify for benefits until you’ve completed two years’ service in the scheme
  • apply to transfer your contributions to another pension scheme.

More than two years’ qualifying service your benefits will be preserved and will be payable from your normal pension age. You can:

  • re-join the scheme at any time prior to your normal pension age if you either opt back in or take up a new teaching post in Scotland
  • apply to transfer your contributions to another pension scheme.

In all cases, any separate periods of service will be added together and used in the calculation of benefits. What’s more, all preserved benefits are index-linked from the date you leave.

What happens when you have a break in service?

If you have a break in pensionable employment of more than five years that ends after 1 April 2015, it’s known as a ‘disqualifying break’ and can have an impact on the benefits you can receive.

For example, if you were previously in the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme, a break like this could mean when you re-join you'd be placed in the Scottish Teachers’ Pension Scheme 2015 where the regulations are different.

It’s also possible that if you had STSS and STPS 2015 benefits when you left, the salary link between your STSS and STPS 2015 benefits may be broken. That means when you take your benefits we’ll calculate your final salary benefit based on the salary you were earning at the time when you started your break rather than using the salaries you’ve earned in STPS 2015.

However, if your break is as a result of you working elsewhere in the Public Sector, it may be possible to preserve your salary link, and you may be able to return to the STSS.

A break in service of more than five years can also affect your normal pension age. If you were a member of the STSS with a normal pension age of 60 and had a break in service of more than five years with a return date on or after 1 April 2007, your normal pension age would remain at 60 for the service before the break but would be 65 for the service after the break.

Early retirement

You can choose to take early retirement, between age 55 and your normal pension age, where you have been in pensionable employment on or after 1 July 2002. When you do this, your benefits will be permanently actuarially reduced. You may be able to choose to 'give up' some of your pension to provide a larger tax-free lump sum provided you were in service on 1 April 2007.

Ill health retirement

Preserved benefits may become payable before your normal pension age if you become permanently incapable of any further employment due to ill-health reasons. However, before payment on these grounds can be made, your ill-health would have to be assessed by our Medical Adviser.

If you die before your normal pension age

If you’ve been out of service for 12 months or more and have preserved benefits, a death lump sum will be payable upon application. The amount will be the greater of:

  • the lump sum based on your pensionable service to date of death OR
  • your pension contributions plus interest of 3% per annum to date of death.

How to apply

You should complete and return the relevant application form to SPPA at least three months before your intended retirement date:

Retirement benefits application form

If you are applying for ill health retirement, both forms below must be submitted:

Application form

Medical Report


Was this information useful?