West Yorkshire Pension Fund member website

Main content

Firefighters 1992 scheme
Death

Death grant

If you were to die in service as a member of the FPS, a death grant would be payable. This would normally be two times your pensionable pay as at the date of death or, if you were absent from duty at that time, two times your pensionable pay immediately before the absence began. If you are working part-time hours the pensionable pay would be the part-time rate.

Tax rules prevent the payment of a death grant in respect of a person who has attained age 75 but it is unlikely that a firefighter would still be serving at that age.

The fire and rescue authority would pay the death grant to the firefighter's legal spouse or civil partner provided they were not living apart at the time of death. (This means more than a physical separation, e.g. as would be the case if the firefighter was away from home attending a training course; it implies recognition by at least one of the spouses or partners that the marriage or partnership is at an end.)

If the firefighter was unmarried, not in a civil partnership, and not "living apart", the death grant would be paid to his/her personal representatives.

There is no death grant payable if the firefighter had already left the service, or opted out of the FPS, at the date of death.

Widow(er)'s pension

When a FPS member dies (whether before or after retirement), if he/she had completed at least 2 years' pensionable service a pension will be paid to a surviving spouse.

Provided husband and wife were not living separately the widow(er)'s pension would be:

  • in the case of a serving Scheme member: half of the total lower and higher tier ill-health pensions to which the firefighter would have been entitled if he/she had retired on health grounds on the date of death;
  • in the case of a retired Scheme member where the marriage took place before the member ceased to be a firefighter: half of the former firefighter's pension as calculated before any reduction was made for commutation;
  • in the case a firefighter, or former firefighter entitled to a deferred pension which was not in payment at the date of death: half of the deferred pension.

If the FPS member had worked part-time, account will be taken of this in the assessment of the widow(er)'s pension.

If you have service before April 1972, the pension may be less than half. Your authority's pensions administrator can give you personalised details if you require them.

Husband and wife living separately

If husband and wife were living separately at the date of death, the surviving spouse's pension would be calculated as:

pensionable service after 5.4.1978 × 1/160 × average pensionable pay

However, if a greater pension ("the full pension") would be payable if husband and wife were not living apart, the pension calculated by the formula shown above:

  • must be increased to the level of any maintenance contributions the deceased was paying or liable to pay at the date of death for the support of spouse and/or child, but this must not be greater than the full pension
  • may be increased to the full pension at the discretion of the fire and rescue authority.

Post-retirement marriage

If a former firefighter marries after leaving the fire and rescue service the surviving spouse's pension would be assessed as the greater of the following:

pensionable service after 5.4.1978 × 1/160 × firefighter's average pensionable pay,

or

1/2 × service after 5.4.1978
total pensionable service
× firefighter's pension

Surviving civil partner's pension

If a FPS member dies (before or after retirement) while in a registered civil partnership, the surviving partner would be entitled to a pension based on similar principles to those set out above for a widow(er) but it would reflect service from 6 April 1988 only. Your fire and rescue authority's pensions administrator can give you further details.

Children's benefits

When a FPS member dies (before or after retirement) a pension will be paid to an eligible child. The child's eligibility is assessed by dependency on the Scheme member: he/she must have been dependent at the date of death and:

  • a child of the FPS member's marriage or civil partnership (where a marriage or civil partnership took place on or before the last day of service),
  • an adopted child (where the adoption took place on or before the last day of service),
  • a step-child (where on or before the last day of service the firefighter and the child's parent were married or formed a civil partnership and the child was subsequently dependent on the firefighter),

or

  • any other child provided the child was substantially dependent on the firefighter both at the last day of service and at the date of death (if different).

  • Account must also be taken of the child's age. If the child:
    • is below age 16, the pension will be payable in all cases.
    • is age 16 or over and under age 23, the pension will be payable only if the child was in whole-time education or permanently disabled at the date of the member's death and has been since.
    • has attained age 23, the pension will be payable only if the child was permanently disabled at the date of the member's death and has been since.

The amount of a child's pension due would depend upon the number of eligible children and whether or not the child or children have a surviving parent.

If a FPS member dies in service where there is a surviving parent and less than 3 eligible children, each child would receive 18.75% of the combined lower and higher tier ill-health pensions; if there are 3 or more eligible children, 37.5% of the combined lower and higher-tier ill-health pensions would be divided equally by the number of children. If there is no surviving parent and less than 3 eligible children, each child would receive 25% of the combined lower and higher tier ill-health pensions; if there are 3 or more eligible children, 50% of the combined lower and higher-tier ill-health pensions would be divided equally by the number of children.

If a person dies after leaving the service or the FPS, the children would be entitled to a similar percentage, in similar proportions, of the pension in payment (or the deferred pension not yet in payment).

Flat rate pension

Instead of the standard awards set out on the preceding pages, a widow(er), civil partner or child can elect, instead, to receive a "flat rate" award. This is the type of award that was provided in the early days of the FPS when dependants' awards were quite limited. Nowadays it is unlikely that a flat rate award would provide a better pension in respect of a firefighter appointed after the mid 1970s.

Survivors' additional pension benefit

If a firefighter has entitlement to an Additional Pension Benefit ("APB"), whether or not it is in payment at the date of death, a portion is paid to a surviving spouse or civil partner and/or any eligible children. The portion will reflect the percentage of the main FPS pension that is paid, e.g. half to a widow, 18.75% to a single eligible child, etc.

Dependent relative's gratuity

This can be paid at the discretion of the fire and rescue authority if the FPS member dies in service or after retirement (other than with a deferred pension). The recipient must be a relative who was substantially dependent on the Scheme member at the date of death and must not be entitled to any other award under the Scheme. A relative in this context means a widow(er), civil partner, parent, a grandparent, a child of the member or any child of these relatives. In normal circumstances, of course, the widow(er), civil partner, or child of the member will nowadays be entitled to an award under the main provisions of the FPS. This is another provision dating back to when Scheme rules did not offer the current level of dependants' awards.

The award can be of any amount provided it does not exceed the total contributions paid into the Scheme by the FPS member.

Payment of contributions to estate

If the total actuarial value of benefits paid to an FPS member's surviving spouse, civil partner and children (plus any benefits paid to the member if death is after retirement) is less that the contributions he/she has paid into the FPS, the difference will be paid to the firefighter's estate.

Increase in dependants' pensions for first 13 weeks

For the first 13 weeks following the FPS member's death, the spouse's or civil partner's pension, including any survivor's Additional Pension Benefit, will be topped up to the level of the deceased's pensionable pay (death in service) or the pension in payment (death after pension comes into payment). This top-up would not apply in the case of a deferred pension which had not come into payment at the date of death. If no spouse's or civil partner's pension is payable but a child's pension is due, the top-up would be applied to the child's pension.

Commutation of trivial pensions

If a pension payable to a member of the FPS, or to a dependant, is less than limits set by HM Revenue and Customs, and certain other requirements of the tax rules are satisfied (e.g. the age of the pensioner), the fire and rescue authority may commute the pension to a lump sum. Alternatively, the authority may decide to pay a small pension at less frequent intervals than the intervals at which they normally pay pensions.