Advice line: decisions, decisions

Some members working in the NHS will be asked to make choices on their pensions arrangements, says Caran Chamberlain.

During the next few months letters will be sent out to 500,000 NHS pension scheme members in England and Wales asking them to make a choice about whether to move their current pension membership into the ‘2008 section’ of the scheme. Members in Scotland will follow the same exercise later in 2015.  

It will only be those CSP members who are currently a member of the ‘1995 section’ of the NHS pension scheme and have no protection, or partial protection (known as tapered protection), who will need to make a choice. Members who were less than 10 years away from their expected retirement date in April 2012 have full protection and will not need to make a choice.  The reason for this exercise is that the new 2015 NHS pension scheme arrangements automatically increase the normal pension age for many staff. This means that when members originally made a choice they did not know that their retirement age would be extended and they may wish to re-evaluate their choice not to move to the 2008 scheme.

From April 2015 the retirement age in the new NHS scheme is set equal to the state pension age (SPA). This depends on your age: for example, if you were born in 1971 your SPA is 67, but if you were born in 1983 it is 68.

You can find out your SPA here by visiting their website.

Your decision to move into the 2008 scheme is a personal one and depends on your retirement and lifestyle plans but actuarial figures suggest that if you plan to work until 64 or beyond, and stay within the NHS scheme, you are probably better off moving to the 2008 scheme. If you are likely to retire before 62 you are probably better off leaving your benefits in the 1995 section. There will be other considerations. Those members on tapered protection will need to consider the value of losing it if they move to the 2008 section. There also other differences between the two sections to consider.

So how do members make a choice?  When you receive your letter you will be directed to the online calculator on the NHS BSA pension website. You will also need a copy of your total reward statement, if you do not receive this at the same time it can be accessed via your human resources department.

For more information, visit NHSBSA and theCSP website here 

Caran Chamberlain CSP senior negotiating officer

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