Opting out

Membership of the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes is automatic, but not compulsory. The schemes allow you to save while you are working in order to enjoy a pension when you retire. They are workplace pension schemes, provided by your employer who also meets part of the cost of providing the range of secure benefits. So it is an extremely valuable and important part of your employment package.

Whatever your reasons for thinking about opting out, you should give it careful consideration before making a decision. It is worth taking time to look at the benefits you are giving up - these are detailed in the table below. You may also wish to take independent financial advice. If you decide to opt out based on advice you receive, you should ask for this advice in writing.

Your employer cannot ask you or force you to opt out. If you are asked or forced to opt out you can tell the Pensions Regulator.

Equally, no one can force you to remain in the scheme but, if you choose not to be member, you should understand the implications for both you and your dependants before opting out.

FPS 1992 - Summary of benefits
A guaranteed public service final salary pension that remains one of the best available and is a tax efficient way of saving for retirement
Retirement with benefits paid in full from age 55 that increase automatically with the cost of living
The ability to exchange part of your annual pension for a one-off, tax-free payment
A final salary link for your FPS 1992 benefits unless you return to the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes after a break of 5 years or more
Ill-health retirement benefits if you have to leave work through permanent ill health
A lump sum death grant of 2 times your pensionable pay if you die in service
Dependants’ benefits for a surviving husband, wife, civil partner, and/or children

If you do not want to be a member of the FPS 1992 you can opt out at any time by writing to your FRA or completing an opt out form if one is available. The opt out would take effect from the following pay day.

Under FPS 1992 rules any member with 2 or more years' service is entitled to a deferred pension or to transfer their benefits to another pension arrangement. Members’ with less than 2 years membership would be entitled to refund.

Because the FPS became a closed pension scheme in April 2006 members who opt out now usually have more than 2 years' service and so qualify for the deferred pension or transfer option.

On opting out, you would not have any further cover under the FPS 1992 (other than that provided by any deferred pension). However, you would continue to be covered by the provisions of the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme in the event of a qualifying injury.

If you decide to opt out of the FPS 1992 and later change your mind, you will not be able to re-join the same scheme. If you wish to restart contributions, you will be offered membership of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2006 (FPS 2006) or the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015), providing you are in a job that qualifies you for membership.

If you re-join either scheme, your deferred FPS 1992 benefit is payable from age 60.

The Pensions Act 2008 introduced new pension rules for all employers in the UK called automatic enrolment. It means that your FRA will have to opt you back (or ‘re-enrol’ you) in to a pension scheme every 3 years. You will then have the choice to opt out again.

If you change your job, your new employer will normally put you back into pension saving straight away.

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