Firefighters RDS modified scheme
Payment of benefits
Pensions are paid in arrears in monthly instalments by the fire and rescue authority. Lump sums by commutation are paid by the authority as soon as possible after they are due.
The authority has discretion as to whom an award for a minor (a person below age 18) will be paid but they must have assurance that it would be used for the benefit of the minor. Similarly, if payment is due to a person who has become incapable of managing his/her affairs, the authority has discretion to pay it to another person as they think best.
If there has been a loss to the funds of the authority because of fraud, theft or negligence on the part of a firefighter in connection with his/her employment, the authority may withhold all or any of the sum lost subject, in the event of dispute, to the order of a court.
Benefits payable under FPS 2006 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 widow(er)s, civil partners and 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 normally accrue from the day after the date of leaving FPS 2006 and would be paid when the deferred benefit is put into payment.
Withdrawal of pension
In certain circumstances a benefit payable under FPS 2006 can be reduced or withdrawn.
Benefits may be reduced by an "earmarking" or pension sharing order issued on divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership, annulment or judicial separation.
A fire and rescue authority may withdraw the whole or part of a retired Scheme member's pension for any period during which that person is serving as a firefighter with any fire and rescue authority (i.e. on re-employment after retirement) and can abate a pension for the period that a pensioner is employed in any capacity with any fire and rescue authority.
They may also withdraw part or all of a pension, permanently or temporarily, if the person otherwise entitled to the pension has been convicted of an offence:
- of treason, or under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989 (in the case of a dependant the offence must have been committed after the death of the Scheme member);
- committed in connection with his/her service as an employee of a fire and rescue authority 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; or
- under section 34(6) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (acts or omissions for purposes of obtaining awards or other sums).
A pension is not payable to a dependant convicted of the murder of the firefighter from whose pension rights the pension derives; in the case of manslaughter of the firefighter, the fire and rescue authority have discretion to withhold all or part of the pension.
If a person has been receiving an ill-health pension for less than 10 years, and has not reached State pension age, the authority must, at such intervals as they think fit, review his/her continuing entitlement to receive the pension. To do this they will consider, with the help of a medical opinion, whether the person has recovered sufficiently to be capable of carrying out any duty appropriate to the role from which he/she was retired on health grounds. If a higher tier ill-health pension is in payment, the authority must also consider if the person has become fit enough to undertake any regular employment.
In the case of a lower tier award, if the person's condition has improved to the point at which he/she could return to his/her firefighter role and the fire and rescue authority offer such employment, the pension will cease. A person who takes up the employment would have the ill-health pension cancelled but the service upon which it was based would count towards a subsequent pension.
If the person refuses the job offered, the ill-health pension would be cancelled and the service upon which it was based would count towards a deferred pension payable, when eligible, under deferred pension rules.
In the case of a higher tier award, if the person is considered fit to return to his/her former role as a firefighter, the position would be as described above. (Service counting towards further pension entitlement would not include the higher tier “enhancement”).
If not considered fit enough to be a firefighter, but fit enough for regular employment, the lower tier ill-health pension would continue in payment but not the higher tier.
Deferred pensions put into payment early on grounds of ill-health must be reviewed too. If the person is found fit for regular employment, payment is suspended until age 60.