Pensions

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Transfer of pension rights FAQs

Can I transfer benefits in or out of the NHS Pension Scheme?
Do I need to transfer my pension rights if I move to a different Nation but continue to work in the NHS?
Can I transfer my NHS benefits into any pension scheme?
Can I transfer my NHS benefits abroad?
What are the time limits for transfers out of the NHS Pension Scheme?
How do I apply for a transfer out of the NHS Pension Scheme?
How is the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) payment calculated?
What are the time limits for transfers into the NHS Pension Scheme?
How do I apply for a transfer into the NHS pension scheme?
What is the Public Sector Transfer Club?
I am outside of the time limits to initiate a transfer into the scheme. Can I opt out for 12 months and on rejoining request that the transfer is made?
I worked in the NHS in another nation. Do the time limits still apply?
How is the transfer value calculated when transferring between NHS pension schemes?
I pay into an NHS Pension Scheme Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) plan. What are my options with regard to this if I leave the scheme?
Can I have a refund of contributions instead of making a transfer?

 

Can I transfer benefits in or out of the NHS Pension Scheme?

Yes. However, there are restrictions on the type of transfers available and time limits which apply.

Benefits can be transferred into the scheme if the application to do so is made within 12 months of joining the scheme. Applications also have to be made before the normal pension age of the section of the NHS Pension Scheme to which you belong (age 60 in the 1995 section and age 65 in the 2008 section).

Benefits can generally be transferred out of the scheme at any time before your normal pension age.

If you have less than two calendar years NHS pensionable service you must join the receiving scheme and initiate the transfer within 12 months of leaving the NHS and before your normal pension age in the NHS Pension Scheme.

 

Do I need to transfer my pension rights if I move to a different Nation but continue to work in the NHS?

In order to ensure that any pension benefits that may become payable from your current employment fully reflect all your pensionable service you should consider transferring your service.

There are three separate NHS Pension Schemes; one for England and Wales, one for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland. If you change NHS employer you will need to apply to transfer your pension rights to the NHS Pension Scheme which applies to your new NHS employment. This will not happen automatically.

 

Can I transfer my NHS benefits into any pension scheme?

The Pensions Agencies permit the transfer of benefits to and from a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) registered pension schemes.

The Government has proposed a restriction on transfers of pension rights from unfunded public service pension schemes, like the NHS Pension Scheme, to defined contribution registered pension schemes in the UK. This restriction is also expected to apply to transfers to Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS). After 1 April 2015 it is expected that such transfers will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

 

Can I transfer my NHS benefits abroad?

The Pensions Agencies permit the transfer of benefits abroad if the scheme is recognised by HMRC as a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and if such a qualifying scheme accepts the transfer.

List of overseas pension schemes currently recognised by HMRC. 

The Government has proposed a restriction on transfers of pension rights from unfunded public service pension schemes, like the NHS Pension Scheme, to defined contribution registered pension schemes in the UK. This restriction is also expected to apply to transfers to Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS). After 1 April 2015 it is expected that such transfers will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

 

What are the time limits for transfers out of the NHS Pension Scheme?

If you are transferring to a registered occupational pension scheme and you have more than two calendar years NHS pensionable service you can apply to transfer at any time before your normal pension age. If you have less than two calendar years NHS pensionable service you must join the receiving scheme and initiate a transfer within 12 months of leaving the NHS and before your normal pension age.

If you are transferring to a registered insurance company and you have more than two calendar years NHS pensionable service you need to have left NHS pensionable service and applied for the transfer at least 12 months before your normal pension age. If you leave the scheme less than 18 months before reaching your normal retirement age you can apply up to 6 months after leaving NHS employment. If you have less than two calendar years NHS pensionable service the same time limits apply but your application for transfer must be within 12 months of leaving NHS employment.

If you are transferring to a registered personal pension plan/stakeholder plan and you have more than two calendar years NHS pensionable service you must leave the NHS and apply to transfer more than 12 months before your normal pension age. If you have less than two calendar years NHS pensionable service the same age limits apply but you must also take out a personal pension/stakeholder plan and initiate the transfer within 12 months of leaving NHS employment.

 

How do I apply for a transfer out of the NHS Pension Scheme?

You can either ask your new registered scheme to write to the relevant Pensions Agency to initiate a transfer (advising them of the time limits), or write directly to them yourself. If the transfer is possible, a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) will be provided. The new scheme administrators will be able to advise on the level of benefits this will acquire in the new scheme. You are not committed to proceeding with the transfer as a result of having asked for a transfer value. This is your opportunity to decide whether a transfer is in your interests.

Please refer to the question above regarding the recent announcement on restricting transfers from “unfunded Public Sector Schemes”.

 

How is the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) payment calculated?

This is calculated by converting the value of your NHS pension rights into a current cash value using factors supplied by the Government Actuary Department (GAD). These factors will vary according to your age, gender and marital status. The calculation may also take account of the current level of the stock market.

 

What are the time limits for transfers into the NHS Pension Scheme? 

For the 1995 Section you must transfer your pension within 12 months of joining the NHS Pension Scheme.

For the 2008 Section you must apply for a transfer within 12 months of becoming eligible to join the Scheme (within 12 months of your NHS employment start date).

In both sections, the transfer must happen before the normal pension age. 

 

How do I apply for a transfer into the NHS Pension Scheme?

You will need to read and complete the form available from your relevant NHS Pensions Agency.

If you are working in England and Wales
If you are working in Scotland
If you are working in Northern Ireland

 

What is the Public Sector Transfer Club?

Certain Public Sector schemes are members of what is known as the reciprocal Public Sector Transfer Club (participating schemes are known as ‘club schemes’). There are strict time limits for ‘club’ transfers which must be applied for within 12 months of joining the new club scheme.

A special calculation is used in the club transfer process which is often more favourable than that used for non-club schemes. Transfers between club schemes generally provide broadly equivalent benefits in the new scheme, regardless of any increase in salary on moving. However, the calculation allows for any differences in the benefit structure of the schemes, e.g. a different normal pension age, so the amount of pensionable service offered in the new scheme may differ from the pensionable service in the old scheme.

I am outside of the time limits to initiate a transfer into the scheme. Can I opt out for 12 months and on rejoining request that the transfer is made?

No. Apart from the fact that opting out may not be in your financial interests (as it will affect not only pension accrual but also any life assurance and ill health retirement benefits which may become payable during the time you have opted out) the scheme will not allow you to apply for a transfer into the scheme on rejoining where you had a previous opportunity to do so but did not. The scheme regulations specifically rule against this situation.

 

I worked in the NHS in another nation. Do the time limits still apply?

Yes. The 12 month time limit to apply to transfer benefits into the NHS pension scheme does apply. However there is no age restriction on these types of transfers.

 

How is the transfer value calculated when transferring between NHS Pension Schemes?

If you are transferring from the 1995 section of the scheme in one nation to the 1995 section of the scheme in another nation you will be credited with day for day service. The same is true if you are transferring from the 2008 section of the scheme in one nation to the 2008 section of the scheme in another nation.
If you are transferring from the 1995 section to the 2008 section the transfer will be calculated on a cash equivalent basis (see above).

 

I pay into an NHS Pension Scheme Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) plan. What are my options with regard to this if I leave the scheme?

Your NHSPS AVC plan is not tied to your main scheme benefits. So, for example you can retain your main NHS benefits in the NHS Pension Scheme whilst transferring your NHSPS AVC.  This can be transferred to an existing Free Standing AVC or personal pension/stakeholder pension provided it has the relevant approval under the Finance Act 2004.

If you have been paying into the NHSPS for less than two years you will be obliged to take a refund of a lump sum equal to the realisable value of the investments you have made into the NHS AVC (less tax).

 

Can I have a refund of contributions instead of making a transfer?

This is only possible if you have less than two calendar years of scheme membership. However, a refund will not be possible if you have less than two calendar years of scheme membership and have transferred a personal pension into the scheme.