Firefighters RDS modified scheme
If you elect to become a special firefighter member, you can opt out at any time by giving a signed, written notice to the fire and rescue authority. (If the notice is in electronic format, you must include a statement confirming that you personally submitted the notice.)
The notice would take effect from the start of the following pay period. If you do opt out, this would be in respect of the whole Scheme; you cannot, for example, choose to opt out of just the Additional Pension Benefit provision (if it applies to you).
Upon opting out of the modified FPS 2006 you would become a special deferred member. The deferred pension would be assessed on the pensionable service accrued from the date on which your election to join took effect, plus a service credit in respect of the mandatory special period contributions that you have paid at the date of opting out. If you had not paid these contributions in full at the date of opting out, you would be given a pro rated service credit based on the sum due and the sum paid. Or, if you wish, you may pay the balance of contributions within three months of opting out and you would then be given credit for the full amount of special pensionable service that you had been "purchasing".
You can request that your deferred pension should be converted to a transfer value payable to another approved pension arrangement.
You would cease to have any further cover under FPS 2006 (other than that provided by a deferred pension). You would, however, continue to be covered by the provisions of the Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme in the event of a qualifying injury.
If you subsequently change your mind and wish to rejoin FPS 2006 you may do so, provided you satisfy the membership conditions at that time. Your written, signed election to rejoin would take effect from the start of the following pay period. You would not, however, be permitted to rejoin as a special firefighter member, nor would you be able to resume payment of any mandatory special period contributions. Instead you would become a standard member subject to the terms of the unmodified FPS 2006.
Under “automatic enrolment” requirements introduced by the Pensions Act 2008, the authority has to periodically re-enrol optants-out back into a pension scheme. This would currently be the unmodified FPS 2006 if you are eligible for protected or tapered status and have not reached your transition date, the FPS 2015 if you are unprotected or have gone past your transition date, or the Local Government Pension Scheme, depending upon your role at the time. (You could opt out again if you wish.)
It would be advisable to seek independent financial advice if you were thinking about opting out, in order to check whether it would be an appropriate course of action.
If you leave FPS 2006 (either because you cease to be a firefighter or because you opt out of the Scheme) having sufficient service to qualify for a pension but not being eligible for immediate payment because you are not old enough nor retiring on grounds of ill-health, then you would be entitled to a deferred pension. This would be assessed on the basic formula, i.e.
annual pension = 1/45 x pensionable service x final pensionable pay
For example, a retained firefighter aged 35 who has been credited with 6 years' pensionable service and whose final pensionable pay would be £28,000 if a whole-time regular firefighter, would be entitled to a deferred pension of:
6/45 x £28,000 = £3,733.33 a year
As its name suggests, payment of a deferred pension would not be immediate. It would normally be put into payment at age 60. The pension will attract Pensions Increase during its deferment and after it is put into payment.
A firefighter entitled to a deferred pension and who suffers ill-health before it is due to come into payment, to the extent that he/she is permanently disabled from undertaking regular employment (i.e. a similar test to that which decides if a serving firefighter would be eligible for a higher tier ill-health award), can have the deferred pension put into immediate payment. However, there would be no higher tier ill-health pension element as there would be in the case of the higher tier ill-health award.
Part of a deferred pension can be commuted to provide a lump sum if the firefighter wishes.
Transfer of pension rights out of scheme
If you leave FPS 2006 having sufficient service to qualify for a pension but not eligible for immediate payment because you are not old enough, nor retiring on grounds of ill-health, as an alternative to a deferred pension you could request that your pension rights should be transferred to another occupational pension arrangement.
Please note from 6th April 2015 transfers out from Defined Benefit public sector pension schemes (such as the Firefighters Pension Scheme) to Defined Contribution schemes, will no longer be possible.
A transfer value, a sum representing the capital value of your pension rights, would be assessed in accordance with guidance provided by the Scheme Actuary and offered to the trustees or managers of your new pension scheme. The transfer would take place only if it would be permissible under pension transfer legislation, if the fire and rescue authority are satisfied that the new scheme has the necessary approval of HM Revenue and Customs, and if you so instruct.
You may leave employment with the fire and rescue authority to transfer to another authority where you remain a member of FPS 2006. (If the new employment is at a lower rate of pay, the two pension option would be available to you.) Although your pension rights will normally transfer with you, payments of transfer value are not exchanged between English fire and rescue authorities. However, a transfer value would be paid between an English authority and an authority in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland where different funding arrangements apply.