What happens if I die in service?

We may pay a lump sum of three times your final pensionable earnings to:

  • a person (or people) or organisation you have named on your death benefit nomination form; or
  • your personal representative.

If you are receiving a Civil Service pension (for example, following partial retirement or re-employment), your death in service lump sum will be lower to take account of the pension and lump sum you have received.

If you have at least two years’ qualifying service your widow, widower, surviving civil partner or partner may also receive a pension. We will work this out as 37.5% of your pension, increased to take account of an enhancement to your reckonable service (up to a maximum of ten years).

A pension may also be payable in respect of any eligible dependent children.


Sandra dies in service, aged 45. She has 20 years’ service and final pensionable earnings of £20,000 a year. Sandra leaves a civil partner, Nicola.

We base Nicola’s pension on 30 years’ service – that is, Sandra’s 20 years’ service plus an enhancement of an extra 10 years.

Nicola’s pension:

1/60 x £20,000 x 30 x 37.5% = £3,750 per year. The death benefit lump sum is:

3 x £20,000 = £60,000.

What if I die after I leave the scheme but before I start getting my pension?

If you leave the scheme and then die before receiving your pension, we may pay a lump sum of the lesser of:

  • five times your annual pension; or
  • two times your final pensionable earnings; increased in line with the cost of living.

We may pay the lump sum to:

  • a person (or people) or organisation you have named on your death benefit nomination form; or
  • your personal representative.

We may also pay a pension to your spouse, civil partner or other adult dependant based on 37.5% of your preserved pension; increased in line with the cost of living.

What happens when I die in retirement?

If you die within five years of starting to receive your pension, we may pay a lump sum to:

  • a person (or people) or organisation you have named on your death benefit nomination form; or
  • your personal representative.

The amount we pay is equal to the amount of pension (including any added pension you had bought) that would have been payable to you during the remainder of the five years if it had continued at the annual rate in payment on the date you died.

If you are over age 75 when you die, we may pay any outstanding balance annually, in arrears, to your nominee(s) as a pension until the five-year period has expired.

If you die more than five years after you start getting your pension we do not pay a lump sum.

We may also pay a pension to your spouse, civil partner or other adult dependant based on 37.5% of your pension (before you gave any up for a lump sum) with increases in line with the cost of living. If you retired with an ill health pension, the pension may be less, as we do not take account of the full enhancement to your service you may have received.

I’m not married or in a civil partnership, but I have a partner

If neither you nor your partner is married to anyone else or in a civil partnership, we may pay your partner a pension, depending on the circumstances. We work them out in the same way as we would for a husband, wife or civil partner. 

How do I nominate someone to receive benefits?

You can nominate any person, including a child, and/or an organisation (such as a bank, a trust, a firm of solicitors or accountants) to receive the death benefit lump sum. The advantage of making a nomination is that we can then pay the benefit without delay.

If you do not nominate anyone, we will pay the lump sum to your personal representative.

You can add or amend your death benefit nomination on the Pension Portal or by completing a death benefit nomination form. You can download the form from the Members Forms page.

You should be aware that if you have nominated your husband, wife or civil partner and the marriage/civil partnership comes to an end, through divorce or dissolution (but not separation), the nomination will no longer be valid and you will have to make a new nomination.

If you separate from a partner to whom you are neither married nor in a civil partnership with and you had nominated them as a beneficiary, the nomination will remain valid. You will need to change your nomination or cancel it, if you wish.


At the time of a divorce or dissolution, a court may order that when a scheme member, or a previous member, dies, all or part of the death benefit must be paid to the ex-husband, ex-wife or ex-civil partner. If this is the case, we may pay any balance to the person(s) or organisation you nominated (nominee) or to the personal representative.

You should keep your nominations under review. The Pension Portal and your Annual Benefit Statement (ABS) show your nominee(s).

Will my children get a pension?

We may pay a pension to your children (and to any other children who rely on you financially) when you die.

We pay children’s pensions for children up to the age of 18, or up to 23 if they are in full-time education. We may pay a pension after age 23 dependent on circumstances.

A pension may be paid for life to any child who was dependent on you because of physical or mental impairment, and in the opinion of the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA) is unlikely to ever be able to work. They will no longer be eligible for a pension should they marry or enter in to a civil partnership.

We work out children’s pensions based on 30% of your pension entitlement if we pay a pension to your surviving spouse, civil partner or adult dependant, or 50% if you did not leave an adult dependant. If you leave more than two children who qualify for a pension we will reduce each child’s pension so they each get an equal share.

What if I am injured at work?

You may be entitled to benefits under the Civil Service Injury Benefits Scheme if you are injured on duty. Eligibility depends on individuals’ circumstances and the nature of the accident or incident.

The injury benefit arrangements provide a guaranteed income for you if you suffer a qualifying injury that will affect your earnings in the future. The level of benefit depends on how much the qualifying injury affects your future earnings and on the length of your service.

If you are killed on duty, your spouse, civil partner or other adult dependant may qualify for an income. We may also provide an income for dependent children.

Please note that we do not normally pay injury benefits if you are injured or killed while traveling to or from work or if you are involved in activities which are not related to your duties.

You or your family may receive personal injury compensation if you have to stay away from home overnight as part of your job and you are then seriously injured or killed while off duty.

How do I complain?

If you have any concerns you should raise them with the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP). Often, a phone call or an email will be enough. If you are dissatisfied with the way your concerns have been handled you may decide to complain to the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP)

If the problem is not sorted out to your satisfaction, you can raise your concerns under the Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) procedure. This is a statutory process that all occupational pension schemes must have in place. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will investigate under Stage 1, and if you remain dissatisfied you can raise your concerns to the Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office), under Stage 2.

You can contact The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) at any stage during the IDR procedure.

TPAS is an independent organisation set up to help with sorting out disagreements between scheme members and the administrators or trustees of their scheme.

You can write to TPAS at:

11 Belgrave Road

For further information see their website:


If you have gone through IDR and your complaint has still not been resolved satisfactorily, you can contact the Pensions Ombudsman. For more information see their website


You can write to the Pensions Ombudsman at:

10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
E14 4PU

Who is the Pensions Regulator?

The Pensions Regulator is the statutory regulator for occupational pension schemes. Their task is to make sure that pension schemes are run legally.

They also educate and inform and work with others to raise standards.

For further information visit the Pensions Regulator’s website:




Transferring your rights to benefits (assignment)

You are not allowed to assign any of your benefits. This means you cannot give anyone else the right to your entitlement from the scheme.


The Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is a statutory scheme made under the Superannuation Act 1972. The rules applicable to premium are set out under section I of the PCSPS rules.

This booklet is based on the rules current at the time of writing and there is no guarantee that any part of the rules will not change in the future.

Before we make changes to the rules, we consult with the Civil Service unions. Under the Superannuation Act we must get the agreement of the unions for any changes to the rules that affect benefits that members have already earned. Any changes we make to the rules are laid before Parliament.

14 January 2022
Last updated:
29 June 2022