Do you know your pension age?

piggy bank with pension written on it

It can seem like the goal posts are constantly changing when it comes to pensions.  For some people their pension age has increased from 60 when they entered the world of work to 67 or 68.  It’s really important to stay up-to-date with the official position regarding pension age.

You need to know your state pension age (SPA) and the normal pension age (NPA) of any other pension scheme (occupational or private) you may be in. This section looks solely at the SPA and pension age in the NHS Pension Scheme. Contact you pension provider for information about other schemes.

The SPA is the age at which you can first receive your state retirement pension. Previously this was 60 for women and 65 for men, but in recent years it has been equalised and men and women now have the same SPA. The SPA is currently 65, but is incrementally increasing depending on date of birth.  

For example, someone born in 1971 who was 45 in 2016 has a SPA of 67, whereas someone who was born in May 1960 has an SPA of 66 and 1 month. You can find out your SPA using the online calculator.  

The Public Service Pension Act 2013 required all public sector pension schemes to set their NPA, which is the age at which members can receive the full value of their pension, as equal to SPA. In the NHS Pension Scheme this change came into effect with the introduction of the 2015 Pension Scheme. Further information can be found on the scheme administrators’ websites:

England and Wales: NHS Pensions
Northern Ireland: HSC Pensions Service

Prior to this change the NPA in the NHS Pension Scheme was 60 or 65 depending on which section you were a member of. Some members with special class status could retire at 55. Now, some NHS staff will have complex pension scheme membership with different NPAs, as they have membership in both the old and current schemes.  

Examples
Aisha joined the NHS Pension Scheme in 1998. Her scheme membership at that time came with an NPA of 60. However, when the scheme changed in 2008 she was given a choice and she moved all her previous scheme membership into the new section of the scheme. This new 2008 section had an NPA of 65. In 2015 Aisha was moved into the new 2015 Pension Scheme that has an NPA equal to her SPA of 67.  So, she has two periods of scheme membership, one in the old scheme under 2008 section rules with an NPA of 65 and the other in the current 2015 arrangements that has an NPA of 67.  Aisha needs to make sure she understands the impact this might have on her future retirement.

Bob joined the NHS Pension Scheme in 1986. His scheme membership at that time came with an NPA of 60.  Unlike Aisha, Bob did not move to the 2008 scheme. In 2015 Bob was moved into the new 2015 pension scheme that has an NPA equal to his SPA of 66.  So, he has two periods of scheme membership, one in the 1995 scheme with an NPA of 60 and the other in the new 2015 arrangements that has an NPA of 66. 

If you are in this position you should take advice from your employer and/or relevant pension scheme. NHS Pensions for England and Wales has developed a membership identifier to help you work out what scheme you have membership in and then find out further details about that scheme. 

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