Firefighters RDS modified scheme

Can I purchase additional service?

As a special firefighter member you will have paid, or are paying, contributions to convert non-pensionable service to special pensionable service. Additionally you may have elected to convert service as a member of the FPS 1992 or the standard FPS 2006 into special pensionable service. (You would have been told of these options, and how they would apply to you, when you first joined the modified FPS 2006.)

Like a standard member of FPS 2006 you also have the option to purchase additional service if, taking into account the special service you are purchasing and that which you would expect to achieve by normal retirement age (55), your total pensionable service would be less than 30 years. Purchased service would count as pensionable service in the assessment of benefits.

Firstly a firefighter has to decide how many additional years to purchase. The cost is determined by factors provided by the Scheme Actuary and reflect the age of the firefighter at the birthday following the election to pay. (The closer to retirement, the higher the contribution rate.)

The use of these factors is straightforward for whole-time firefighters. For example, suppose a whole-time regular firefighter wants to purchase an additional 3 years and each year costs 1.54% of pensionable pay. He/she would be required to pay an additional 4.62% (i.e. 3 x 1.54%) of (whole-time) pensionable pay until normal retirement age, on top of standard contributions.

In the case of a retained firefighter, because the pay is variable, the rate at which purchased additional service accrues would be variable, too. It would be necessary to discuss with the pensions administrator the best method of collection of contributions in an individual case. There could be various options.

For example, it may be possible to assess the amount of contribution that would be payable by a whole-time firefighter on whole-time pay each year and to have this deducted as a set amount, rather than as a percentage of pay. But this would only be possible where the pensionable pay for each pay period is high enough to accommodate the fixed deduction. An alternative approach may be to deduct a set percentage of actual pensionable pay and, at the end of every financial year, to work out: based on pensionable pay received as a proportion of the pay of a whole-time firefighter in the same role: what proportion of a year has been purchased.

To pay additional contributions, an election to do so must be made at least 2 years before normal pension age (55) and you must not be due to retire (e.g. on health grounds) in the immediate future. The additional contributions would be deducted with effect from your next birthday following your election, along with your basic contributions and mandatory special period pension contributions (unless you had chosen to pay the latter by lump sum). They would be assessed on your pensionable pay excluding any element treated as pensionable for APBs.

If you leave or cease paying contributions for any other reason before reaching age 55, you would be credited with the appropriate portion of service "purchased" to date.

Please contact West Yorkshire Pension Fund for more information.