The FPS 2006 for special members is a final salary scheme, meaning that your pension is based on your scheme membership (pensionable service) and final pensionable pay.
As a special firefighter member, for each year of special pensionable service, you will get 1/45th of final pensionable pay. The fraction of 1/45th reflects the accrual rate for FPS 1992 members. In that scheme, for each of the first 20 years of service the firefighter would be credited with 1/60th of pensionable pay and for each year between 20 and 30, they would be credited with 2/60ths.
As part of the pension settlement for retained firefighters, it was decided that the 60th accrual principle contained in the FPS 2006 should be kept for special members but based on a uniform accrual of 1/45th for each year up to a maximum of 30 years.
Each day of pensionable service will count as 1/365th of 1/45th.
For example, if a special firefighter member retires at age 55 with 15 years 28 days of pensionable service and final pensionable pay of £32,000, the pension would be worked out as –
15 28/365 x 1/45 x £32,000 = £10,721.22 a year
What is pensionable service?
For regular firefighters, this is their period of service as a member of the FPS for which they have paid contributions. If their hours of employment are less than whole-time, the calendar or "qualifying" length of service would be pro rated to reflect their part-time hours. For example if a regular firefighter worked half-time during six calendar years of service, the pensionable service for the pension calculation would be three years.
Because retained firefighters do not work a fixed number of hours, pensionable service is worked out based on pay.
The actual pensionable pay received is compared with the pay that would have been received over the same period by a whole-time regular firefighter in the same role and with similar service (the "reference pay"). The comparison is usually done for scheme year (1 April to 31 March) during the firefighter's membership and this gives the pensionable service which will count in each year.
Suppose a retained firefighter worked for 3 scheme years – from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2015. Assume the pay of a whole-time regular firefighter in a similar role over the same 3 year period was –
1.4.2012 to 30.6.2012 = £24,000
1.7.2012 to 30.6.2013 = £26,000
1.7.2013 to 30.6.2014 = £28,000
1.7.2014 to 30.6.2015 = £30,000
These rates of pay would be the starting point for working out the retained firefighter's pensionable service. Next we need to break down these rates of pay to show how much would actually have been received by the whole-time regular firefighter within each of the scheme years –
1.4.2012 to 30.6.2012: 91/365 x £24,000 = £5,983.56
1.7.2012 to 31.3.2013: 274/365 x £26,000 = £19,517.81
1.4.2013 to 30.6.2013: 91/365 x £26,000 = £6,482.19
1.7.2013 to 31.3.2014: 274/365 x £28,000 = £21,019.18
1.4.2014 to 30.6.2014: 91/365 x £28,000 = £6,980.82
1.7.2014 to 31.3.2015: 274/365 x £30,000 = £22,520.55
Then the pensionable pay received by the retained firefighter has to be established. For this example, let's suppose pay records show that the pensionable pay received by the retained firefighter was –
Year 1: £6,429.12
Year 2: £4,132.56
Year 3: £8,528.21
To work out the service credit for each year, we divide the pensionable pay received by the retained firefighter by the pensionable pay received by the whole-time regular firefighter –
Year 1: £6,429.12/£25,501.37 = 0.2521 of a year
Year 2: £4,132.56/£27,501.37 = 0.1503 of a year
Year 3: £8,528.21/£29,501.37 = 0.2891 of a year
Total: 0.6915 years' pensionable service
The pensionable service used in the pension calculation is 0.6915 years (approximately 252 days).
Other periods may count as pensionable service. For example, service transferred in from another pension scheme, unpaid leave (including additional maternity, paternity, and adoption leave) for which contributions have been paid, or service which previously counted towards a pension which has since been cancelled. Added years paid for by additional contributions would also be included in the assessment of pension.
Special firefighter members who have been members of the FPS 1992 or the standard FPS 2006 may also have pensionable service allowed under the conversion arrangements which applied when they first chose to join.
What is Final Pensionable Pay?
To make sure that retained firefighters are treated equally to part-time and whole-time regular firefighters, the pensionable pay used to work out the pension for a retained firefighter will be the final pensionable pay that would have been used for a regular whole-time firefighter in a similar role and with similar qualifying service (the reference pay).
In most cases this would be the whole-time pensionable pay averaged over the last 365 days of pensionable service. It would not include those payments which have been treated as pensionable for providing Additional Pension Benefits (APBs).
You can use the best of the last 3 years pay to work out your pension benefits. This protects your pension if you have a reduction in pay in your last couple of years' service. If you have a reduction in pay earlier on in your service, the two pension option could help you.