West Yorkshire Pension Fund member website

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Firefighters 2015 scheme
Claiming a pension

Payment of benefits

Pensions are paid in arrears in monthly instalments and you can find a list of the payment dates here.

Lump sums by commutation are paid by the authority as soon as possible after they become due.

If the pension is payable at normal pension age, an active member must make a claim for payment; if the claim is received before employment ends, payment will begin on the day after the end of employment. If a claim is not received until after employment has ended, the pension will be paid from a date after the claim is made – the authority would notify the member of this date.

Where an active member is entitled to pension on employer initiated retirement, the pension is payable from the day after Scheme employment ends.

If an active member has chosen the partial retirement option, the pension is payable from the day after the date on which the partial retirement option was exercised.

The first period for which an ill-health pension is payable is the day after the date on which the member's Scheme employment is terminated.

A deferred pension is paid from deferred pension age provided that the member has claimed payment. At the member's request it could be deferred further – up to age 75 – or it could be paid earlier, at or after age 55 but with an early payment reduction. If a request is made for early payment of deferred pension on ill-health grounds and the authority has agreed that payment can be made in these circumstances, it would commence from the date on which the deferred member satisfied the ill-health payment requirements. If this date cannot be established, payment would commence from the date of the member's request.

Pensions for a surviving partner and eligible children will be paid from the day after the date of the member's death. In the case of an eligible child born after the death of the member, payment would commence from the date of the child's birth.

If a child is below the age of 18, the authority will decide who should receive the payments but would require the pension to be applied for the benefit of the child in accordance with the authority's instructions. If, after pensions have been awarded and apportioned between eligible children, the authority is made aware of an additional child who has a valid claim (this would include a child born after the member's death) the authority may make retrospective adjustments to the pensions. (The authority has a right to recover payments or overpayments in circumstances where it is considered appropriate to do so.)

Pensions increase

Benefits put into payment under FPS 2015 are increased in accordance with Pensions (Increase) Acts and Orders. Any increase due is paid with immediate effect on ill-health pensions and pensions for surviving partners and eligible children. Otherwise it would be put into payment at or after age 55 when the pension to which it relates is put into payment. In the case of deferred benefits the increase would accrue from the day after the date of leaving FPS 2015 and paid when the deferred pension is paid.

Changing my address

If you need to change your address please give WYPF contact centre a call on 01274 434999 or write to us at:

PO Box 67
Bradford BD1 1UP

Changing my account details

If you need to change your account details please write to us with your new details at:

PO Box 67
Bradford BD1 1UP

Effect of tax rules

FPS 2015 has to comply with rules set by HM Revenue and Customs. There are, for example, limits on the amount of pension and lump sum which can be taken by a pension scheme member before tax charges apply.

The two main limits on your benefits are the "annual allowance" and the "lifetime allowance".

The growth in the value of your pension each year must be compared with an annual limit set by HM Treasury. If the value exceeds the limit, tax would be due, payable through self-assessment. Or you could elect that the authority should make the payment on your behalf and collect the sum due from your benefit entitlement (this is referred to as the "scheme pays" method).

When benefits are due, the total value must be tested against the lifetime allowance, also set annually. If the value exceeds the limit, tax would be deducted by the authority and paid over to HM Revenue and Customs.

The testing of the value of benefits is in respect of all pension benefits you may have accrued, including from arrangements other than FPS 2015. Consequently the authority will ask you to provide statements in respect of any other pension arrangement you may have so that they can check the total value of benefits before making payment from the Scheme. The authority can give you more details of the way in which tax rules work, how benefits are valued, current limits and the tax chargeable.

Reduction or withdrawal of pension

Benefits may be reduced by an "earmarking" or a pension sharing order issued on divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership, annulment or judicial separation.

Also, in certain circumstances a benefit payable under FPS 2015 can be reduced or withdrawn under forfeiture and "set-off" rules.

A fire and rescue authority may withdraw the whole or part of a pension, permanently or temporarily, if the person otherwise entitled to it has been convicted of an offence of treason, or an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989, or an offence committed in connection with their Scheme employment and which is certified by the Secretary of State either to have been gravely injurious to the interests of the State or likely to lead to serious loss of confidence in the public service.

A pension would not be paid to a dependant convicted of the murder of the firefighter from whose pension rights a dependant's pension would otherwise be derived; in the case of manslaughter, the fire and rescue authority have discretion to withhold all or part of the pension.

Forfeiture of benefits and/or "set-off" may apply if a Scheme member has a "relevant monetary obligation" to the employer or has caused a "relevant monetary loss" to FPS 2015 in circumstances arising out of the member's criminal, negligent or fraudulent act or omission – in some cases in connection with their Scheme employment. But if there is a dispute between the member and the authority about the obligation or loss, the benefits cannot be withheld unless there is a court order or a similar determination following arbitration.

An authority has the power to require a person who may have entitlement to a benefit under the Scheme to provide supporting evidence of entitlement. Failure to do so may mean that benefits are withheld.

Retired on an injury pension?

Retire on an injury pension

Appeals & complaints

Right of appeal

If a member of FPS 2015, or a dependant, is dissatisfied with a decision made by a fire and rescue authority (or the failure to make a decision) there are rights of appeal available. There is an appeal procedure for someone who is dissatisfied with a determination that was based on a medical opinion, where they believe the fault lies in the medical opinion. And for other grievances the authority must have in place arrangements for Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures (“IDRP”) based on the requirements of the Pensions Act 1995.

Looking at the medical appeal route first, if the authority is considering whether or not to make an award of an ill-health pension to a firefighter (or to allow early payment of a deferred pension on health grounds), they must first obtain the written opinion of an independent qualified medical practitioner (“IQMP”) as to whether the person is permanently disabled for the duties of his/her role and, if so, whether he/she would be capable of any other regular employment. The authority must notify the firefighter of their decision as to award and supply a copy of the medical opinion upon which their determination is based.

If the person is dissatisfied with the award and believes the problem lies in the medical opinion, then he/she can appeal against the opinion to a Board of Medical Referees. (Before this stage, however, if the member provides new evidence of a medical nature and the member and the authority agree, the IQMP can be asked to review the medical opinion in the light of the new evidence.)

A similar process applies if an ill-health award is reviewed and the person is dissatisfied with the outcome and in any other circumstances where a decision has been made, based on medical evidence.

If the grievance of a FPS 2015 member, a dependant, or a pension credit member relates to a decision made by the fire and rescue authority unrelated to the content of a medical opinion, or is in respect of a non-medical aspect of the opinion, he/she can use IDRP to seek resolution. The grievance will be considered by the authority and a written response made.

Full details of local medical appeal procedures, the IDRP process, and relevant time limits can be supplied by your authority.

The Pensions Advisory Service ("TPAS")

TPAS is an independent voluntary organisation which provides information and guidance on pension matters. They are available at any time to assist occupational pension scheme members and beneficiaries in connection with any pension query they may have or any difficulty which they have failed to resolve with pension scheme administrators. Their service is free. TPAS cannot enforce pensions action but, if felt appropriate, could recommend a person to put his/her case to the Pensions Ombudsman. They can be contacted at:

The Pensions Advisory Service,
11, Belgrave Road,
London, SW1V 1RB

Telephone helpline: 0300 123 1047
Website: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

The Pension Ombudsman

The Pensions Ombudsman can investigate a pension scheme member's complaint of maladministration or a dispute of fact or law between a scheme member and pension scheme managers or employer. However, the Ombudsman cannot help if court proceedings have begun in respect of the dispute, under any of the FBS rules (1992/2006 or 2015).

The Ombudsman will expect the case to have first been put through Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures. Also, a complainant who writes to the Ombudsman direct will normally be requested to have the case dealt with initially by The Pensions Advisory Service.

The Pensions Ombudsman can be contacted at:

The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman,
11 Belgrave Road,
London, SW1V 1RB

Telephone: 020 7630 2200
Website: www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk

The Pension Regulator

The Pensions Regulator is a regulatory body which came into existence on 6 April 2005 having been set up under the Pensions Act 2004 (replacing the earlier Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority). It ensures that pension scheme members' interests are protected and that schemes comply with the law.

For example, the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 includes requirements for the governance and administration of public service schemes (including FPS 1992, 2006 and 2015), and for oversight by The Pensions Regulator. Fire and rescue authorities must comply with The Pension Regulator's Code of Practice No.14 which sets out a framework for governance and administration.

At central level there must be a Scheme Advisory Board and at local level a Pension Board with responsibility for assisting the authority ("scheme manager") to comply with Scheme regulations and other legislation relating to the governance of the Scheme.

The Local Pension Board must have an equal number of employee and employer representatives, a minimum of 4 in total, 2 from each side. They must be conversant with the Scheme rules and have an understanding of the law relating to pensions. It is not a decision-making board although it can review decisions made under the Scheme rules.

At the time of writing this guide, some of the Pensions Regulator's requirements for the Firefighters' Pension Schemes are still in draft form, but your fire and rescue authority can keep you informed about local arrangements

The Pensions Regulator deals with issues about pension schemes as a whole. It does not deal with queries about an individual’s pension benefits but recommends that a person seeking free information and advice on all types of pensions should approach The Pensions Advisory Service.

Website: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk