Leaving the Scheme
If you do not want to be a member of the FPS 1992, you can opt out at any time by giving written notice to the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS). The notice would take effect from the following pay day. As you will now have 2 or more years' service, there would be entitlement to a deferred pension or a transfer of accrued rights to another pension arrangement.
On opting out, you would cease to have any further cover under the FPS (other than that provided by any 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 the FPS 1992, you would the become a member of the FPS 2015. Your election to join would take effect from the following pay day.
If you leave your employment as a firefighter and satisfy the following, you will become entitled to a deferred pension;
- have at least 2 years' pensionable service or, if less, have had a transfer of previous pension rights into the FPS 1992; and
- are not eligible for immediate payment of an age retirement pension because you are not old enough and/or do not have the required length of service; and
- are not retiring on grounds of ill-health.
You would also be entitled to a deferred pension if you opt out of the FPS 1992, while still in employment provided you have at least 2 years' pensionable service or have had a transfer of previous pension rights into the FPS 1992.
A deferred pension is put into payment at age 60. It can be paid earlier if the firefighter becomes permanently disabled for performing any duties appropriate to his/her former role.
Transferring your Benefits
If you leave the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) or opt out of the FPS 1992, you may have different options, depending on the length of your qualifying service. As you will have 2 years qualifying service, you can transfer your benefits to another pension scheme, or retain deferred benefits within the FPS 1992.
You may be able to transfer your pension benefits to another public service pension scheme or another pension scheme which is registered with HM Revenue and Customs. The transfer payment will be in the form of a cash equivalent transfer value.
There are a number of issues to consider before making a transfer. You should be aware that there may be time limits that apply (e.g. 12 months to transfer after joining a club scheme) and that the transfer value may not necessarily buy the same amount of accrued pension in your new scheme – an estimate from your new scheme should provide an indication.
The Government has prohibited any transfers from unfunded public service pension schemes (such as the Fire Pension Schemes) into Defined Contribution Pension Schemes and other flexible benefit arrangements from 6 April 2015.
If you are thinking of opting out of the FPS 1992, you are strongly recommended to seek Independent Financial Advice before doing so.
If you do decided to opt out, you would save the cost of contributions, but would probably pay more by way of tax (as contributions attract tax relief). Also, you and your survivor's would cease to have the added life assurance cover that the FPS 1992 provides.
As you will now have more than 2 years qualifying service in the FPS 1992, you will NOT be eligible to receive a refund of contributions.