How do I know if I am taper protected?
You are taper protected if you are or were a special member of the FPS 2006 and were born between 2 April 1967 and 1 April 1971.
What does that mean for me?
You will have a taper protection date which is personal to you. At your taper date, you will move to the FPS 2015. Your existing FPS 2006 Special Members pension rights will not transfer with you, and they will remain fully protected in FPS 2006. If your taper protection date falls after you choose to retire, you will not move to the FPS 2015.
When can I access my pension?
Unless you retire before transferring to the FPS 2015, you will have pension rights in both FPS 2006 and FPS 2015. This means that you will have a ‘two part’ pension.
Part 1 – The first part of your pension remains fully protected in FPS 2006 and can be taken, on retirement, from age 55. Your FPS 2006 Special Members pension will still be calculated on your final salary at retirement and you will continue to have access to the same commutation rights.
Part 2 – The second part of your pension is built up in the FPS 2015. If you continue as an active member, this can be taken: from age 55 with a reduction, at age 60 without any reduction, or after age 60 with a pension enhancement. If you leave service before being entitled to take your FPS 2015 pension, it will come into payment in full at your state pension age.
Why will my FPS 2015 pension be reduced?
The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires the normal pension age to be age 60 and pension taken before that to be reduced. The table below sets out the reduction to your FPS 2015 pension only; your FPS 2006 Special Members pension will be taken unreduced:
What pension will I get at retirement?
As explained earlier, you will receive a two part pension. The first will be based on your FPS 2006 Special Members service and your final pensionable pay at the date you retire. The second part will be a CARE pension built up under the rules of FPS 2015. There is no cap on the amount of pension that can be earned in the FPS 2015. Firefighters who transfer from FPS 2006 Special Members to FPS 2015 may be able to build up a bigger pension than had the reforms not taken place.
What contributions will I be paying?
You will continue to pay the FPS 2006 contribution rate for special members until your taper date.
Contribution rates for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 are as follows:
|Contribution Table 2021/22
|Pensionable pay range for an employment
|Contribution rate 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022
|Up to and including £15,609
|More than £15,609 and up to and including £21,852
|More than £21,852 and up to and including £31,218
|More than £31,218 and up to and including £41,624
|More than £41,624 and up to and including £52,030
|More than £52,030 and up to and including £62,436
|More than £62,436 and up to and including £104,060
|More than £104,060 and up to and including £124,872
|More than £124,872
After your taper date, you will join the FPS 2015 and pay a lower rate of contributions. Details of the current rates can be found at how much do I pay?
Be aware that opting out or not joining FPS 2015 has long-term implications and members should not make any such decision until they are aware of all the implications.
As an FPS 2006 special member you would not be able to re-join the scheme and therefore your benefits would be paid at deferred pension age (60), instead of your eligible retirement date as an active member.
Anyone who is considering opting out should take independent financial advice.
Withdrawing Pension Savings
From April 2015, people aged over 55 with defined contribution pension savings are able to withdraw those savings, subject to their marginal rate of taxation and scheme rules. As the Firefighters' Pension Scheme is a defined benefit public sector pension scheme, the change in the rules that allowed this could not be directly applied to the scheme.
From 6 April 2015 transfers out from defined benefit public sector pension schemes (such as the Firefighters' Pension Scheme) to defined contribution schemes are no longer possible.