When is the earliest I can retire?

You can claim your pension from your minimum pension age. In alpha this is currently age 55.

Do I have to leave employment?

No. You can take early retirement from alpha either through full retirement when you do leave employment or partial retirement where you continue working, if your employer agrees.

What happens to my pension if I take it before my NPA?

If your pension is paid before your NPA, it is likely it will be paid for more time than was originally intended. Your pension is adjusted to take this into account.

This means the pension is reduced, to take account of the extra time it is expected to be paid.

How is the adjustment worked out?

The factors are worked out by the scheme actuaries, using assumptions such as life expectancy.

The pension you have built up to the date you retire is adjusted by the factor according to your age and how early you are taking your benefits.

Use the early retirement calculator which will give you an idea of the reduction applied to your benefits. 

Will the adjustments always be the same?

No. The factors can be changed on the advice of the scheme actuaries.

Does the early payment adjustment apply to preserved pensions?

Yes. If you claim your preserved pension early, it is adjusted for early payment.

What if I have bought an EPA portion of my pension?

If you have built up an EPA portion, that portion can be paid up to three years before your NPA without reduction, depending on the option you chose. You can choose an EPA option of NPA minus one, minus two, or minus three years.

For example:

If over the course of your career you built up your main alpha pension, an EPA portion of your pension (NPA minus one), and a second EPA portion (NPA minus three), you would have three separate pension portions. (In this example your NPA is age 68).

  • The main alpha pension that can be paid in full at NPA (age 68).
  • An NPA minus one EPA portion that can be paid in full at NPA minus one (age 67).
  • An NPA minus three EPA portion that can be paid in full at NPA minus three (age 65).

a. If you chose to retire at age 55, because this is before the age any of the portions can be paid in full, all the portions are reduced for early payment.

b. If you chose to retire at age 67, the portions of your pension would be treated like this:

  • The main alpha pension can be paid in full at NPA (age 68), so it is reduced for early payment.
  • The NPA minus one EPA portion can be paid in full from age 67, so is not adjusted.
  • The NPA minus three EPA option (age 65) is being paid late, and gets a late payment adjustment applied.

Can I still exchange pension for a lump sum?

Yes. Your option to exchange is based on your pension after the early payment reduction has been applied.

Is there a way to remove the early payment reduction?

Yes. You can make a lump sum payment to buy out the early payment reduction. You can find an online tool to work out the cost of buying out on the Civil Service Pensions website.

Thinking of retiring before your Normal Pension Age (NPA), alpha and Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) pension

This section only applies to members who were in the PCSPS (classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos) before 01 April 2015, and then moved from that scheme into alpha.

It does not cover every aspect of the scheme; full details are set out in the scheme rules, which are the legal basis of the scheme. You can find copies of the PCSPS scheme rules on the Civil Service Pensions website.

Nothing in this guide can override the scheme rules. Every effort has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the rules will apply. This guide is based on the rules current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the rules will not change in the future. You should be aware that tax rates and limits are subject to change.

If this section applies to you, please read it carefully to understand what happens to both portions of your pension if you claim your pension early.

You can still retire early, even if you have some banked service from classic, classic plus, or premium, or some banked benefits from nuvos.

This will likely mean that you will have a separate portion of your pension with your previous NPA. This will affect the level of reduction, and if it is paid after your PCSPS NPA, the pension will not be reduced.

What is my minimum pension age?

It is possible that you could have two different minimum pension ages for your alpha and your PCSPS pensions.

Members who joined before April 2006 will have a minimum pension age of 50 on their PCSPS benefits.

You cannot claim your alpha portion before age 55, but your PCSPS pension could be paid as long as you have left employment or partially retired.

9 December 2021
Last updated:
22 August 2022