Pensions

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Returning to work after retirement FAQs

Answers to your questions on returning to work after retirement including rules on retirement, taking a break in service and limits to working hours and NHS earnings. 

Do I need to retire from all my pensionable NHS posts in order to claim my retirement benefits?
Do I need to take a break in NHS service to be able to claim retirement benefits?
I have a period of untaken annual leave on my last working day which will be paid in lieu of annual leave. How will this affect my retirement and return to NHS employment dates?
Are there any exceptions to this requirement?
What happens if I do not take a break in employment?
Can I use my annual leave to affect a break in service?
How will the 16 hours per week restriction apply?
Can I use my annual leave to ensure that I actually work no more than 16 hours per week during the first calendar month?
Can I rejoin the NHS pension scheme when I return to work?
Are there any restrictions on my NHS earnings after retirement?
Is there a limit on my pension scheme membership?
Does my CEA or Distinction Award continue to be payable after if I retire and return to work?
I have retired from General Practice and have been advised that my pension is suspended until form AW240 is completed. Who completes this form?

 

Do I need to retire from all my pensionable NHS posts in order to claim my retirement benefits?

If you are contributing to the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme you would usually need to retire from all pensionable posts in order to claim your pension. This may not be the case if you are being made redundant. Please see the Redundancy FAQs for further information.

If you are contributing to the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme you would usually need to retire from all pensionable posts in order to claim your pension. However there is a facility for members of this section of the scheme to claim some of their pension while they continue to work. This is known as draw down. Please see the Draw down FAQs for further information.

 

Do I need to take a break in NHS service to be able to claim retirement benefits?

If you are contributing to the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme you must take a break in service before returning to work. This means that you must terminate your NHS employment in accordance with your contract or partnership agreement and you must not work in the NHS during the first 24 hours of your retirement. If you return to work after a break of 24 hours then you must not work for more than 16 hours per week during the first calendar month. After one calendar month there is no further restriction on the number of hours that you can work. Alternatively, if you take a month off and return to NHS employment, there are no further restrictions

If you are contributing to the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme you must terminate your NHS employment in accordance with your contract or partnership agreement and you must not work in the NHS during the first 24 hours of your retirement. You can return to work after a break of 24 hours and there is no restriction on the number of hours you can work.

 

I have a period of untaken annual leave on my last working day which will be paid in lieu of annual leave. How will this affect my retirement and return to NHS employment dates?

The rules of the scheme require that pensionable employment is extended by the period of untaken leave for which payment in lieu is made. This means that the date your NHS employment contact is terminated may be different from the last day of your pensionable employment. The regulations of the scheme require you to retire from pensionable employment before becoming entitled to a pension.

For example, if you leave your employment on 31 March 2016 with 10 days untaken annual leave, your pensionable employment date is extended to 10 April 2016.  Your pension would be payable from 11 April 2016 and you could not return to NHS employment before 12 April 2016.  If you are contributing to the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme, you must not work for more than 16 hours per week between 12 April 2016 and 11 May 2016.

 

Are there any exceptions to this requirement?

If you are a Secondary Care doctor contributing to the 1995 section and have concurrent NHS posts it is possible to terminate some of your posts and remain working in other posts provided that you are working for less than 16 hours per week in your remaining post or posts. In this situation you do not need to take a break from the remaining posts of 16 hours a week or less and you can simply stop paying pension contributions in respect of these employments, continue with your duties and draw your retirement benefits.

If you are a General Practitioner contributing to the 1995 section and have a concurrent “officer” NHS post, it is possible to terminate your GP posts and remain working in the “officer” post provided that you are working for less than 16 hours per week in this remaining post or posts. In this situation you will need only to resign from all of your GP posts and can simply stop paying pension contributions in respect of the officer employment(s). Please note that you cannot give up your officer post and reduce your GP commitments to less than 16 hours per week.

If you retire on health grounds and return to work having taken the 24 hour break in employment then you are not limited to working for less than 16 hours per week during the first month after retirement. However there are other factors which might affect your ill health pension. Please refer to the Ill health retirement FAQs for further information.

 

What happens if I do not take a break in employment?

Your pension will be suspended until you take the required break.

The pension which is forfeited during the period of suspension is not paid as arrears once the pension is reinstated.

 

Can I use my annual leave to affect a break in service?

The regulations require that your contract has terminated.

 

How will the 16 hours per week restriction apply?

The regulations are clear that you must work for no more than 16 hours in each week during the first calendar month. For example you are not allowed to work for 32 hours one week and then take the next week off. The start of the week will differ depending on which day of the week you retire on. For example, if your last day of service is a Monday, your 24 hours break will be on Tuesday and to satisfy the above rule, your week will be between Wednesday and Tuesday.

 

Can I use my annual leave to ensure that I actually work no more than 16 hours per week during the first calendar month?

No, unless you are only contracted to work for 16 hours per week or less in your re-employment contract. It is your responsibility to provide evidence to demonstrate that you have not been contracted to work for more than 16 hours per week.

 

Can I rejoin the NHS Pension Scheme when I return to work?

If you are a member of the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme then you can only rejoin the scheme in the following circumstances:

  • If you have retired on the grounds of permanent ill health and you are returning to pensionable employment before you reach age 50
  • If you have retired between 1 April 2008 and 30 September 2009; after a break of two calendar years you can join the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme.

If you are a member of the 2008 section then you can rejoin the scheme provided that you have not already achieved 45 calendar years’ of service or reached age 75. If you satisfy those conditions, your employer must enrol you in the scheme on your return to work unless you complete an opt out form.

 

Are there any restrictions on my NHS earnings after retirement?

If you are contributing to the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme then your pension might be affected by your future NHS earnings if you have Mental Health Officer (MHO) status, or if you retire on the grounds of permanent ill health or on the grounds of redundancy ‘in the interests of the efficiency of the service’.

If you are contributing to the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme then your pension might be affected by your future NHS earnings if you retire on the grounds of permanent ill health or on the grounds of redundancy ‘in the interests of the efficiency of the service’.

The process by which your pension could be affected by your future NHS earnings is known as abatement. Please see the Abatement FAQs for further information.

 

Is there a limit on my pension scheme membership?

You are not allowed to accrue more than 45 calendar years’ of membership in either section of the NHS Pension Scheme.

In the 1995 section, doctors with MHO status are restricted to 40 calendar years’ at age 55, and 45 calendar years’ overall.

Members will automatically be withdrawn from both the 1995 and 2008 sections of the scheme, at age 75.

 

Does my CEA or Distinction Award continue to be payable after if I retire and return to work?

Your CEA or distinction awards will cease to be payable if you retire and return to work. Pre-retirement CEAs and Distinction Awards cannot be reinstated after retirement. If you retire and return to work, you will be able to apply to re-enter the CEA Scheme or its successor as Clinical Excellence Award holders are currently able to.

 

I have retired from general practice and have been advised that my pension is suspended until form AW140 is completed. Who completes this form?

When you receive the letter and form from Paymaster you should scan it and send it to [email protected] putting 'RETIREMENT' in the subject heading.  PCSE also require a letter from you confirming that you have taken a 24 hour break and detailing your duties during the first calendar month of your retirement.  PCSE will complete the form and return it to Paymaster.