The 1995 section has a normal pension age of 60. This means that at age 60 doctors can draw their pension and lump sum benefits from this section without any reduction.
The 2008 section has a normal pension age of 65. This means that at age 65 doctors can draw their pension (and any mandatory or commuted lump sum) from this section without any reduction. Members retiring voluntarily prior to this date will have their benefits reduced to reflect that they are being paid earlier than anticipated and for longer. Members retiring after this date may qualify for late retirement factors to be applied to their pensions.
The 2015 scheme has a normal pension age linked to an individual's state pension age, or age 65 if that is later. Any pension benefits voluntarily accessed prior to your pension age are usually subject to an actuarial reduction because they are being paid earlier than anticipated and for longer. Members retiring after this date may qualify for late retirement factors to be applied to their pensions.
Hugo is a 55-year-old GP with membership in the 1995 section.
He was within 10 years of his normal pension age on 1 April 2012 and therefore he had full protection and did not have to join the 2015 scheme in 2015. The McCloud remedy however means that the protection was deemed age discriminatory and Hugo, like all other members, irrespective of age, has moved to the 2015 scheme from 1 April 2022.
He can access both 1995 section and 2015 scheme benefits actuarially reduced via full or partial retirement (from 1 October 2023) and can continue accruing benefits in the 2015 scheme (ongoing on partial retirement or after a break of 24 hours only on full retirement).1995 section benefits can be taken without any reduction from age 60 if he wishes.
On retirement Hugo will chose whether he wants his remedy service to remain in the legacy scheme or be included in the calculation of reformed scheme benefits.
Members with benefits in the 1995 section in England, Wales and Scotland can resume NHS pensionable service following full retirement and are not restricted by having 45 years of service so long as they are under age 75.
Members with benefits in the 1995 section in Northern Ireland cannot resume pensionable service on accessing 1995 section benefits. An exception to this is where they are already a member of the 2015 scheme and have incurred a break in service which ends the final salary link and means that 1995 section benefits can be claimed without ceasing NHS employment.
It is expected that rules in Northern Ireland will be amended in due course to reflect the recent changes in England, Wales and Scotland. However, until this happens members in Northern Ireland accessing 1995 section benefits are subject to pre April 2022 rules.
Kellie is a 43-year-old consultant who opted to move to the 2008 section of the scheme under the 'Choice Exercise'.
She was more than 13.5 years from her normal pension age on 1 April 2012 so did not receive any form of protection. She joined the 2015 scheme in 2015.
The McCloud remedy means however that on 1 October 2023 her remedy period service (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022) will revert to the legacy 2008 section and only service from 1 April 2022 will remain in the 2015 scheme. Had Kellie moved to the 2008 section under the Choice 2 exercise then this decision could be unpicked via the McCloud remedy and, if chosen, all service prior to and including the remedy period could be reverted to the 1995 section. Only the second Choice exercise can be unpicked in this way and not the original one
Having transferred from the 1995 section to the 2008 under the original 'Choice Exercise', Kellie has a normal pension age of 65 in relation to her 2008 section benefits. Kellie accrued 20 years of final salary pension in the 2008 section. This will be increased by seven years on 1 October 2023 to include the remedy years and be linked to her reckonable salary at retirement, which means that she will benefit from any future pay increases. These benefits are called protected rights.
On retirement Kellie will chose whether she wants her remedy service to remain in the legacy scheme or be included in the calculation of reformed scheme benefits.
Kellie also started to build up benefits in the 2015 scheme under career average revalued earnings (CARE) accrual. She will be able to draw her protected rights from the 2008 section at age 65. She can either draw her 2015 scheme benefits at the same time (they would be subject to an actuarial reduction) or leave them in the scheme until her state pension age of 67.
If Kellie draws her benefits from the 2008 section and returns to work then providing she has taken the appropriate break in service she would be able to build up further benefits in the 2015 scheme. Kellie can also access 2008 section/2015 scheme benefits via partial retirement/draw down when she reaches age 55 where no break in service is needed.
Moussa is a 37-year-old staff grade doctor and was a member of the 1995 section before joining the 2015 scheme.
He was more than 13.5 years from his normal pension age on 1 April 2012 so did not receive any form of protection. He joined the 2015 scheme in 2015. Moussa accrued 10 years of final salary pension in the 1995 section. This will be linked to his actual salary at retirement, which means that he will benefit from any future pay increases.
The McCloud remedy means however that on 1 October 2023 his remedy period service (1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022) will revert to the legacy 1995 section and only service from 1 April 2022 will remain in the 2015 scheme. At retirement he will be able to decide whether to retain remedy period service in the legacy 1995 section or to have it accrue in the reformed 2015 scheme.
He will be able to draw his protected rights from the 1995 section at age 60 and either draw his 2015 scheme benefits at the same time or leave them in the scheme until his state pension age of 68.
If Moussa draws his benefits from the 1995 section and returns to work he will be able to build up further benefits in the 2015 scheme. If he draws his 2015 section benefits at age 60 (with his 1995 Section benefits) then the 2015 scheme benefits would be actuarially reduced.
Beatrice is a 22-year-old medical student who will start work in April next year and immediately join the 2015 scheme.
She will accrue benefits under the 2015 scheme CARE method and her state pension age SPA is 68.
Beatrice has a long time until retirement, she realises that the state pension age is likely to increase during her career if the Government increase the state age due to improving mortality rates.
How to apply for your pension
Access the correct forms and read how to in:
Read further guidance on claiming your pension in:
You can also read our guidance on taking early retirement.
Taking late retirement
The 1995 and 2008 sections and the 2015 scheme have varying normal pension ages at which point the pension can be accessed without reduction.
- You can continue to accrue pension benefits beyond the state pension age.
- You cannot stay in the pension scheme beyond 75.
- Working beyond the state pension age will result in an enhancement to all of your accrued benefits.
- The level of enhancement is based on the age that you retire - this needs to be at least one month after you have reached the state pension age.
- This enhancement can apply when retiring from active pensionable service (contributing to the scheme) or from having opted out but remaining in NHS employment.
- Any benefits accrued previously in the 1995/2008 section can be accessed from the legacy section normal pension age whilst continuing to build further 2015 scheme benefits. The current exception to this is for members with 1995 section benefits in Northern Ireland.
- You can continue to accrue pension benefits beyond age 65.
- You cannot accrue more than 45 calendar years’ service in the 2008 section or be pensionable beyond age 75. However the 45 year limit can be ignored on continued/resumed 2015 scheme membership so long as the member is under age 75.
- Working beyond age 65 will result in an enhancement to the benefits which were accrued up to 65.
- The level of enhancement is based on the age at which retirement takes place after age 65 years and one month.
- This enhancement can apply when retiring from active pensionable service (contributing to the scheme), from having opted out (not contributing to the scheme but continuing to work in the NHS) and from being unable to contribute as maximum service limits have been reached (but continuing in NHS employment). This latter restriction on longer applies and 2015 scheme membership can continue/start even once 45 years has been reached in the 2008 section.
- A break in pensionable service of five years or more results in no further final salary linking and benefits can be accessed on full retirement without ceasing NHS employment.
- Enhancement is only possible where a continuous opt out of five years has taken place, if the opt out happened no earlier than age 60 years and one month. This would result in a pension with enhancement being payable from age 65 years and one month.
- A break in pensionable service of more than five years beginning before age 60 and one month will not result in an enhancement of service when the pension is taken.
- You can work in the NHS and to continue to accrue pension benefits beyond age 60.
- You cannot accrue more than 45 calendar years’ service or be pensionable beyond age 75. Mental health officers are restricted earlier due to the faster accrual possible after 20 years worked as a mental health officer. Since 1 April 2022 all members in England, Wales and Scotland who have accessed 100% of their 1995 section pension can resume NHS pensionable service in the 2015 scheme even where 45 calendar years was attained so long as they are under age 75.
- Working beyond age 60 will not result in an enhancement to the the 1995 section benefits accrued beyond the normal accrual rate. As a result benefits can now be accessed and further pension accrual built up in the 2015 scheme for members in England, Wales and Scotland. Until changes are made in Northern Ireland resumed pensionable service is not permitted on accessing 1995 section benefits.
BMA's network of elected women and BMA pensions committee joined forces in a seminar about pension contributions throughout the various stages of a female doctor's career, including maternity leave and less than full time working.