New details on flexible NHS retirement options

More doctors to be able to take pension benefit while working

By Edie Bourne

Doctors who are members of the 1995 Section of the NHS Pension Scheme will be able to take their pension benefits while retaining their current NHS role from this October. 

New details on the application process and the criteria needed to apply has just been released – although some of the key tools have been delayed. 

The partial retirement option is already possible for pension benefits earned in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme, but from this autumn it will apply to 1995 Section benefits too. 

Doctors aged 55 and above can choose to take between 20% and 100% of their pension benefits in one or two payments – without having to leave work. 

However, those choosing this option must reduce their pensionable pay by at least 10% in the 12 months after drawdown.

In order to proceed with an application, doctors must complete a new document called a ‘Partial Retirement Supplementary Form’, which was published in July. 

There is also a new online ‘Partial Retirement Calculator’ to help members plan their next steps, but this will not be available to use until 1 October at the earliest.

Civica Medical Billing

Difficult to process

Patrick Convey, technical director at retirement management specialists Cavendish Medical, explained: ‘As with all NHS finance matters, the devil is in the detail and yet we are only just receiving some of the most important information on these flex­ibilities now. 

‘The new application form has only just been published, which means it might be difficult for NHS Pensions to process in time for those wishing to start their flexible retirement in October.

‘NHS Pensions has vowed to make quick progress with applications but standard retirement forms can take at least three months. The online tool designed to facilitate easier decision-making will also not be ready until after the launch date of the scheme, but benefits will be backdated to 1 October if there are delays.

‘If you are considering taking this opportunity, you should discuss your options with your financial adviser. The “McCloud remedy” legislation is also due to be published in October and may have an impact on your decisions.’

The McCloud remedy, which seeks to redress the age discrimination caused by moving some members to the 2015 scheme, confirms that those impacted will be given a choice between taking their benefits for the remedy period from the 1995-2008 Section or the 2015 Scheme instead.

Pensionable service for the remedy period will be automatically put back into the 1995/2008 Section until it is time for the member to make a choice. Those applying for partial retirement will be contacted by NHS Pensions within 12 months of taking pension benefits to ask for the decision. 

Further online assistance has been available via the new ‘McCloud Percentage Tool’ available since 1 August. It allows those affected by McCloud to conduct various modelling to help plan their remedy choice.