Partial retirement

Partial retirement allows you, with the agreement of your employer, to draw some or all of your classic pension and remain in work. There are certain conditions, which you need to be aware of before you apply for partial retirement.

Find out more about partial retirement

Preparing to fully retire

When you decide to retire, it will help if you agree your last day of service with your employer as far in advance as you can. Your employer will tell the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) who will send you an estimate of your pension benefits, plus a Personal Details Form – this is your pension claim form. You should check the details, complete and sign the form, and return it as quickly as possible.

Find out more about claiming your pension.

Providing benefits for someone else (allocation)

When you take your pension, you have the option to give up part of your pension to provide benefits for another person. This is known as ‘allocation’ of pension. You may choose to add to the benefits you have already provided for your husband, wife or civil partner, or to provide for another person who is dependent on you.

You need to remember a number of points about allocating part of your pension:

  • you must be eligible
  • you give up part of your pension permanently
  • you can only allocate at final retirement; it is not possible to allocate when you take partial retirement
  • you must make your allocation decision before we start to pay your final pension
  • you cannot change or cancel the allocation, even if the person who would have received the benefits dies first
  • the pension you allocate is payable for life and is not affected if you get married again or enter into a civil partnership.

If you are interested in allocating your pension, contact us.

How your pension is calculated

Classic is a defined benefit pension scheme based on your length of reckonable service and your pensionable earnings at (or near) the time you leave.

This type of pension is sometimes called a 'final salary' pension, but it might not be your actual salary which is used to work out what you receive.

In classic, we use your pensionable earnings to calculate your pension. This includes your salary, pensionable allowances, pensionable bonuses and any other elements your employer deems to be pensionable.

the full-time equivalent rates are used during any periods of part-time working.

How are my pensionable earnings worked out?

We look at a total of nine separate 12-month periods covering the three years leading up to your last day of service. This starts with your last 12 months of service, followed by the 12 months ending 91 days before your last day of service, and so on until a total of three years are covered. 

This is sometimes known as the '91-day step back rule', and your pension is based on whichever 12-month period results in the highest period of earnings.

Example 1

John is retiring on 31 August 2022. We therefore look at this earnings in the following periods:

  • The year ending on 31 August 2022
  • The year ending on 1 June 2022 (91 days before 31 August 2022)
  • The year ending on 2 March 2022 (91 days before 1 June 2022)
  • The year ending on 1 December 2021 (91 days before 2 March 2022)

...and so on.

How does the calculation work?

The calculation uses a list of your salaries, pensionable allowances and bonuses as the elements which make up your pensionable earnings. 

The start and end dates of each element, and the amount, are provided by your employer and are based on when they became effective.

If any elements of your earnings have been backdated, the date they should have been paid from is used - not the date you started to receive it.

The calculation is based on earnings in whole calendar months, and proportions of months, where applicable. 

Example 2

Sue is retiring on 31 December 2022. Her best year of pensionable earnings is her last 12 months (1 January to 31 December 2022). 

Her salaries in the period are as follows:

  • From 1 June 2021 - 31 May 2022: £27,000
  • From 1 June 2022 - 31 December 2022: £30,000

Sue's salary of £30,000 began to be paid at this rate from September, when it was backdated to reflect the fact it should have increased from 1 June. 

Sue was also paid an allowance between 17 August - 12 November, at an annual rate of £3,000. Sue's pensionable earnings are £29,470.97, broken down as follows:

  • £27,000 earned for 5 months, January - May 2022: £27,000 / 12 x 5 = £11,250, plus
  • £30,000 earned for 7 months, June - December 2022: £30,000 / 12 x 7 = £17,500, plus
  • £3,000 earned for two whole months, September - October 2022: £3,000 / 12 x 2 = £500, plus
  • £3,000 earned for 15 days in August (a 31-day month): £3,000 / 12 / 31 x 15 = £120.97, plus
  • £3,000 earned for 12 days in November (a 30-day month): £3,000 / 12 / 30 x 12 = £100

Example 3

Miriam retired on 31 March 2020. this was a leap year, and she retired after 29 February. She also had a 12-day non-reckonable (unpaid) absence from 19 - 30 November 2019.

Both of these factors impact the earnings calculation and how the 12-month periods are worked out, because Miriam did not receive pensionable earnings during her absence. The reckonable years used in the calculation must therefore start 12 days earlier than in the examples above, to ensure these are a full year in length once the break is taken into account.

The stepback periods used for Miriam - factoring in her unpaid break - are affected as follows:

1. The year starting on 20 March 2019 and ending on 31 March 2020 (i.e. her last 12 months - this begins 12 days "early" to cover a whole reckonable year)

2. The year starting on 20 December 2018 and ending on 31 December 2019 (91 reckonable days before 31 March 2020 and covering a whole reckonable year)

3. the year starting on 20 September 2018 and ending on 19 September 2019 (91 reckonable days before 31 December 2019, once the 12 non-reckonable days are taken into account)

4. The year starting on 21 June 2018 and ending on 20 June 2019 (91 reckonable days before 19 September 2019)

Subsequent stepbacks are calculated in the normal way.

Because 2020 was a leap year, any changes to Miriam's earnings in February 2020 would be apportioned based on a 29-day month, instead of a 28-day month as would normally be the case. 

Why doesn't this match the sum of my payslips?

Your pensionable earnings often won't match your payslips when adding these up for the same period. Your payslips show what you were paid on a given date, not when you actually earned a particular amount: backdating of changes to your pay, your employer's payroll cut-off dates and other factors can lead to a mismatch between earnings and pay.

Getting your pension

You will receive an annual pension and a one-off lump sum. Your lump sum will be paid direct to your bank or building society account, whichever you indicate on your Personal Details Form.

Your pension will be paid every month, in arrears, directly into your bank or building society account. Your pension will be treated as earned income for tax purposes; any tax that is due is taken off before the pension is paid.

We work out your pension using your pensionable earnings and length of reckonable service.

You should be aware that there is a maximum number of reckonable service years we can use, and that is 45.

Before 1 March 2008, the number of years was restricted to 40 before the age of 60 but you could build up a further five years’ reckonable service for any service from the age of 60 onwards. However, from 1 March 2008, anyone who had already reached their 40 years’ service could start to build up another 5 years’ service, regardless of their age at that time.

So, we work out your pension as follows:

(pensionable earnings x reckonable service) / 80. We work out your lump sum (which, in most cases, is tax free) as follows:

3 x your annual pension


Your pensionable earnings are £20,000, and your reckonable service is 30 years.

Pension = (£20,000 x 30) / 80 = £7,500 a year or £625 a month before deductions.

Lump sum = £7,500 (pension) x 3 = £22,500.

Important note

Please note that we will reduce the lump sum should we need to recover any scheme contributions that you owed.

Choices on retirement

When you take your pension you may be able to give up all or part of your lump sum in return for an increase in either your own pension, or in your own pension and your widow’s, widowers’ or surviving civil partner’s pension. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) can give you more information. If you decide to exchange all or part of your lump sum, you must make your decision before your last day of service. If you left service early with preserved benefits, you must make your decision before your pension comes into payment at pension age. Once we start paying your benefits, you cannot change them.

Additional lump sum

If you were in pensionable service after 30 September 2007, you will be able to choose to give up part of your pension for an additional lump sum.

 You can choose how much extra lump sum you want up to a maximum set by HMRC. You must give up £1 of annual pension for each £12 of additional lump sum you take.

You can find out how much additional lump sum you can take, and the effect it will have on your pension by using the calculator on the Civil Service Pensions website (or you can ask the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) to do this for you if you do not have access to the calculator).

Reducing your annual pension in this way generally has no impact on your dependants’ pensions as these are based on your pension before you give any up for a higher lump sum.

However, if you are aged 75 or over when you die, the tax rules on pensions may restrict the total of any dependants’ pensions payable to a maximum of the amount of your pension at the date of your death.

If you take a higher lump sum, your dependants’ pensions may reduce if you die after reaching 75 and leave two or more children under age (or under age 23 if they are in full-time education).

If you are single and eligible for a partial or full refund of WPS contributions on full retirement, you will have less scope to give up pension for an additional lump sum. This is because the total of any WPS refund plus any additional lump sum you choose to take cannot exceed the maximum permitted lump sum.

Please note that from 1 April 2012, you will only receive a refund of the 1.5% WPS contributions paid. You will not receive a refund of the additional contributions above 1.5% paid from that date. See Appendix A for more information about WPS refunds.

Pensions increase

Pensions in payment increase every year in line with the cost of living. All pensioners aged 55 or over get these increases. Preserved benefits are also increased to maintain their value up to the date they become payable.

You will also receive the cost-of-living increases if you are aged under 55 and if:

  • you retired because of ill health; or if
  • the pension is paid to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner; or if
  • the pension is paid for a child.


You retire in mid-October with an annual pension of £7,500.

The following April, the cost-of-living increase is 3.5%.

As you retired exactly halfway through the relevant 12-month period, the pension is increased proportionately (that is, by one half of the total increase – 1.75%).

During the second year, the cost of living increase is 4.2%. Your annual pension becomes £7,631.25 after six months and £7,951.76 a year later.

Changes at State pension age

For people with service before 1 April 1980 their pension will be reduced at State pension age to take account of National Insurance modification. Ask the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) for more details about National Insurance modification.

15 December 2021
Last updated:
28 November 2023