alpha scheme guide

Your alpha benefits explained

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Section 01 - General information

General Information

This is your guide to the benefits you may be entitled to as a member of the alpha pension scheme.

The Civil Service pension arrangements give you opportunities to take control of your retirement planning and build up additional retirement income.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This is a guide to the alpha pension scheme. It does not cover every aspect of alpha; full details are set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme. You can see a copy of The Public Service (Civil Servants and Others) Pensions Regulations 2014 on the Civil Service Pensions website.

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

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk

alpha is a registered scheme under the Finance Act 2004, and is governed by UK legislation.

This section explains:

01A. An overview of alpha

A brief guide to what alpha offers its members.

01B. Building up your benefits

A guide to how alpha pensions build up.

01C. Transferring into alpha

A guide to transferring other pensions into the alpha pension scheme.

01D. Your other options

A guide to the other options available, if alpha is not for you.

Section 01A - An overview of alpha

What is alpha?

The alpha pension scheme is part of the Civil Service pension arrangements. Most new entrants who join after 01 April 2015 will be eligible for membership of alpha.

Who runs alpha?

The Scheme Manager (Cabinet Office) is responsible for alpha. It decides the benefits members will get, what level of contributions members and employers pay and all other policy affecting the scheme.

The Scheme Administrator, administers alpha on behalf of the Scheme Manager. This involves the day- to-day administration of alpha, including calculating and arranging payment of members’ pension benefits.

The Scheme Administrator can only act on behalf of the Scheme Manager and within the regulations of alpha. Details of who to contact can be found in Section 07E – Important contact information.

Where can I see the alpha regulations?

These are set out in The Public Service (Civil Servants and Others) Pensions Regulations 2014. You can see a copy on the Civil Service Pensions website: www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk

What sort of scheme is alpha?

alpha is an occupational pension scheme that you can join because your employer is covered by the Civil Service pension arrangements. alpha provides a defined benefit worked out on a Career Average basis. A defined benefit pension scheme provides a pension based on set criteria, usually related to the members’ pensionable earnings and/or length of service (including any transferred in pension benefits). A Career Average pension scheme means you build up a pension based on a percentage of how much you earned each year.  

Will I join alpha?

Most employees can join alpha and all eligible new joiners will automatically be enrolled into the scheme.

You can choose to opt out of alpha, join the partnership pension scheme, or make other pension arrangements yourself. Your employer will not contribute to a private pension arrangement. Section 01D - Your other options has more information on what else is available.

Usually, once every three years, your employer has to put all eligible employees, who are not in an appropriate pension scheme, into alpha. Your employer will tell you when, and if, you will be enrolled into the scheme.

If I do not join alpha now, can I join at a later date?

Yes. If you choose not to join on your start date, you can choose to join at a later date by ‘opting in’. There is more information on opting in or out, and switching schemes in Section 01D - Your other options.

What do I get as an alpha member?

As an alpha member you will build up an annual pension, and you get tax relief on the pension contributions you make, subject to HM Revenue & Customs limits. The alpha pension you build up is adjusted each year in line with prices. When you start taking your benefits you will get an option to exchange some of your annual pension for a one-off, tax-free, lump sum. alpha also provides some benefits that can be made to your family if you die.

How much do I pay?

The amount you have to contribute to alpha is based on which ‘pay band’ your earnings fall into each pay period. You can see all the pay bands, and the contribution rates on the Civil Service Pensions website. Please remember that these contribution rates are subject to change.

When can I take my benefits from alpha?

You can take your alpha benefits from your alpha Normal Pension Age (NPA) without any early payment reduction. In alpha, NPA is the later of age 65, or your State Pension age.

You can claim your alpha pension after you reach alpha’s minimum pension age, which is currently 55. If you do your pension is reduced because it is likely to be paid for a longer period of time. The earlier you claim your pension the greater the reduction will be.

What if I take my benefits after my NPA?  

If you claim your pension after your alpha NPA, a late payment addition will be added to the alpha pension you have built up to take account of you retiring later than your NPA.

What if my State Pension age (SPA) changes?

As your alpha scheme NPA is linked to your SPA, if your SPA changes your NPA will change too.

What happens if I leave alpha?

Your pension will be worked out on the day you leave. You will get a preserved pension if you have more than two years’ qualifying service, or be offered a refund or transfer if you have less. Section 04 - Leaving the scheme has more information on what will happen to your pension if you leave alpha.

What if I get too ill to work?

If you become too ill to work, you may be able to retire early on medical grounds. If the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA) agrees that your health will prevent you from doing your current job, and that your condition is permanent, you can apply to get your pension paid early. If you have a limited life expectancy, you may be able to get your pension paid to you as a one-off lump sum. Section 05D – Ill-health retirement has more information on what happens if you are too ill to continue to work.

What benefits are payable if I die?

alpha provides both a lump sum payment (that may be paid to a person, people or organisation you choose to nominate) and pensions for your eligible dependants (spouse / civil partner / partner / dependent children).

The amount of pension that is payable depends on the pension you have built up and your pay at the time you die. Whether you are in service, a deferred member (you have a preserved pension), or retired will also have an effect on these payments. Section 06 – death benefits explains this in more detail.

If I leave can I transfer my alpha pension to another pension scheme?

Yes. You may be able to transfer your pension to another defined benefit scheme, but it will have to meet some qualifying conditions. There is more information on this in Section 04 - Leaving the scheme

Can I increase my pension?

Yes, there are ways to increase the amount of pension that you will get by paying some extra contributions.

Buying Added Pension and the Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contributions Scheme (CSAVCS) are both ways you can boost your retirement income.

You also have the option to buy an EPA portion of your alpha pension. Doing this allows you to claim part of your pension earlier than your alpha NPA, without any early payment reduction, which gives you some control over your retirement planning.

There is more information on all of these features in Section 02 - Taking control of your retirement planning.

Will I get two separate pensions if I move into alpha from classic / classic plus / premium / nuvos?

At the end of each section of this scheme guide you will find information especially for members who moved into alpha from one of the sections of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS). This information will help you understand the implications of having periods of service in both alpha and the PCSPS.

An overview of alpha and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension.

What happened to the pension I built up in the PCSPS?

When you moved into alpha your benefits in nuvos, or any service that you had built up in classic, classic plus, or premium, were ‘banked’.

How will my pension be worked out?

Your pension will be made up of two parts, your PCSPS pension and your alpha pension. These two separate parts will be worked out differently, based on each of the scheme’s rules.

Your pensionable earnings or final pensionable earnings, depending on what section your PCSPS benefits are in, are taken from the date you actually retire (or leave if earlier), not the date you move into alpha.

What does ‘banked’ mean?

Banked service is your classic / classic plus / premium service that you built up while you were a member of PCSPS. This is held on your record and used to work out that part of your pension when you claim it. You will not build up any more service in classic, classic plus, or premium once you have moved into alpha.

For example:

Anna moves into alpha on 01 April 2015 after building up 20 years service in classic. On 01 April 2015 Anna’s pensionable earnings were £15,000. Using her 2015 pensionable earnings Anna’s pension would be £3,750 a year.

When Anna moves into alpha, her 20 years of classic service is banked.

Anna stays in alpha until she reaches her NPA in 2025. Because of pay rises and a promotion, her pensionable earnings are now £25,000. Anna’s banked service is still 20 years. If Anna claimed her pension in 2025, using her banked service and new pensionable earnings the classic part of her pension would be £6,250 a year.

Banked benefits is the nuvos pension you built up before your move into alpha. These benefits are held on your record, but you will not add any more to them. The value of your nuvos pension will be adjusted each year in line with prices.

For example:

Anna moves into alpha on 01 April 2015 after building up £5,000 a year of nuvos pension.

When Anna moves into alpha, her £5,000 a year of nuvos pension is banked.

Anna stays in alpha until she reaches her NPA in 2025. Over the 10 years her nuvos benefits were banked, they were adjusted in line with prices. If every year this was a 1% increase, her nuvos pension would be £5,523 a year.

What is my Normal Pension Age?

The alpha Normal Pension Age (NPA) is the later of age 65, or your State Pension age (SPA).Your PCSPS scheme’s NPA is usually age 60 in classic, classic plus and premium, or age 65 for nuvos.

When can I claim my pension?

You can claim your pension after you have left employment, or by taking partial retirement.

The earliest you can claim your benefits is your minimum pension age.

If you joined the PCSPS before 06 April 2006, your minimum pension age in that scheme is likely to be 50. All other members can take their benefits from age 55.

The minimum pension age in alpha is currently age 55.

If you claim your pension before its NPA it will be reduced for early payment. As each part of your pension might have a different NPA, the amount each part is reduced could be different.

There is more information on claiming your pension benefits in Section 05 - Claiming your pension.

Section 01B - Building up your benefits

alpha is a Career Average pension scheme. This means you build up alpha pension based on a percentage of how much you earn each scheme year. A scheme year runs from 01 April to 31 March.

You build up alpha pension by adding 2.32% of your actual pensionable earnings from each scheme year to your alpha pension.

What earnings are used?

Your actual pensionable earnings are used to work out the 2.32% that is added to your alpha pension. This is the amount you actually get paid (before any tax or National Insurance is deducted).

Most of your earnings will usually be pensionable earnings. They will include any allowances that Cabinet Office has agreed are pensionable. Some bonuses are not pensionable. Your employer will be able to tell you which parts of your pay will be pensionable.

What if I work part-time?

Your actual pensionable earnings are used to work out your benefits, so this takes into account the reduced amount you earn.

What about cost of living increases?

Your total alpha pension is adjusted in line with prices every year that you are an active member of alpha. HM Treasury (the government’s economic and finance ministry) decides exactly how much the adjustment should be.

This adjustment can be either positive or negative. This means the value of your pension can increase or decrease by this adjustment.

How does an alpha pension build up?

The example below shows the way a Career Average pension, like alpha, builds up. In this example we have assumed a small cost of living increase is applied each year.

If you earned £20,000 in one scheme year, on 31 March of that year you would add £464 to your alpha pension:
£20,000 x 2.32% = £464

The annual adjustment is applied to the total pension balance at the start of the scheme year, in this case it’s a 1% increase:
£464 + 1% = £468.64

If you earned the same amount the following year, you would add another £464:
£20,000 x 2.32% = £464
£468.64 + £464 = £932.64

The annual adjustment is applied to the total pension balance at the start of the next scheme year, again it is a 1% increase:
£932.64 + 1% = £941.97

This continues every year you are an active member of alpha.

Alpha 1 (1)

Section 01C - Transferring into alpha

What is a transfer in?

A transfer is the movement of an individual’s pension rights from one scheme to another. The transferred funds become subject to the rules of the receiving pension scheme and that scheme then becomes responsible for paying the member’s benefits.

When you transfer into alpha, your previous scheme calculates the transfer value of your previous pension benefits.The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP), works out how much alpha pension that amount will buy you. If you are happy with the valuation you can apply for the transfer to go ahead.

Are all transfers the same?

There are two main types of transfer, a Club transfer and a non-Club transfer.

The Public Sector Transfer Club is a group of defined benefit occupational pension schemes, mainly within the public sector. The Club offers those who move between Club schemes the opportunity to transfer pension benefits on special terms.

When both schemes are part of the Transfer Club, it is called a Club transfer. If only one, or neither, is part of the Transfer Club, it is a non-Club transfer.

Can I transfer in my previous pension?

There are time limits for requesting a transfer in. You must apply to transfer in your pension in your first 12 months of becoming eligible to join alpha. For Club transfers, you must apply to transfer within five years of leaving the previous scheme.

Please note: an expression of interest into the possibility of transferring in your pension is not considered to be an application. An application is a signed declaration that you are happy for the transfer to proceed.

It is not always possible to transfer a pension, the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will let you know if it is not.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in transferring benefits into alpha please contact the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) for further information.

Is there a limit to non-Club transfers in?

Non-Club transfers can come from any type of eligible scheme.

There is a limit to the maximum amount of alpha pension you can get from a non-Club transfer in. This limit is half (50%) of your annual rate of pensionable earnings on the day you became an active member of alpha.

How does a Club transfer in from a final salary scheme work?

A final salary scheme provides a pension based on your salary and length of service at the end of your career.

The alpha rules do not allow a final salary pension to be transferred into alpha. Your transfer will be added to nuvos, even if you have never been a member, but linked to your alpha pension. This will provide you with a final salary pension linked to your main alpha pension.

Although your transfer will be in nuvos, not alpha, it will still be included in any estimates or statements you get.

How does a Club transfer in from a Career Average (CARE) scheme work?

Career Average transfers can be added directly to your alpha pension, provided the transfer meets the eligibility criteria. A transfer credit will be added to your benefits. This credit will be adjusted each year but using the method / amount that your previous scheme would have adjusted your benefits.

Can I cancel my transfer?

You will have time to decide during the application process. You do not have to agree to transfer any of your previous pensions if you are not happy with the amount of alpha pension your transfer will buy. If you do not want the transfer to go ahead you should tell the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) in writing as soon as you get your quote. You cannot change your mind once the transfer has been completed.

Do I have to pay any extra contributions if I transfer in?

No, the only extra funds that are added to your alpha pension come from your previous pension scheme.

Do I get any tax relief?

There are no special tax relief options when you transfer in a previous pension.

Are there any other tax issues?

Each tax year, the growth in all pension arrangements you have is measured against an Annual Allowance set by HM Revenue & Customs.

You will normally have to pay an Annual Allowance tax charge on any growth in your benefits that are over the Annual Allowance amount.

When calculating the growth in your benefits an adjustment is made for any transfers made on a Non-Club basis, the increase resulting from the transfer is offset.

Transfers made on a Club basis are assessed in a different way to account for changes in value from the old scheme to the new scheme.

There is more information on the Annual Allowance in Section 07A - Your pension and tax.

Section 01D - Your other options

If I do not want to be in alpha, what are my other options?

There are two choices:

  • You can choose the partnership scheme.
  • You can opt out of the pension scheme and choose not to be a member of alpha or the partnership scheme.

partnership and switching schemes

What is partnership?

The partnership pension account is a defined contribution pension arrangement. Members of the partnership scheme do not have to contribute but their employer will. Contributions are invested in a fund or selection of funds.

If you want more details on how the scheme works, you can find them in the booklet partnership pension account: A guide to available benefits.

How do I join partnership?

There are two ways to do this and it depends on when you want to join.

Joining partnership as a new joiner: When you join you will have received a new entrant pack that includes a Pension Choices form, you can choose to be a member of partnership on this form.

Joining partnership at another time: You can switch to partnership from alpha at any time. Further information on switching can be found on the Civil Service Pensions website.

Can I leave partnership and join alpha?

Yes, you can switch back into alpha. However, once you have completed a switch between schemes you can’t switch back for 12 months.

What happens to my pension when I switch?

Your pension (alpha or partnership) is treated in the same way as it would be if you left the scheme any other way.

In alpha this means you will get a transfer / refund option, or a preserved pension depending on how much service you have.

More details on these can be found in Section 04 - Leaving the scheme.

Opting out of alpha

What is opting out?

You can choose to opt out and leave alpha while remaining in employment. By opting out you are not covered by the alpha scheme, and the benefits that come with it.

You may want to seek financial advice before choosing to opt out. You can find tips on finding an Independent Financial Adviser by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk

How do I opt out?

You will need to complete an opt out request form and send it to your employer.

What is the process for opting out?

Once your employer has received your opt out form they will stop the pension contributions being taken from your pay, usually from the following pay period.

Your employer will let the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) know that you have opted out of the pension that you have opted out of the pension scheme.

What happens to my pension when I opt out?

Just like leaving alpha in any other way, you will be offered a refund / transfer option, or a preserved pension based on how much service you have.

If you opt out within one month of joining, or you opt out after one month but within three months and do not have any previous service you will only be eligible for a refund which your employer will refund with your salary.

Can I opt in to alpha?

If you have opted out of alpha you are able to opt back into alpha as long as you are still eligible to join the scheme.

If you choose to opt out again, you will not be able to opt back into the scheme until 12 months after your last opt in date.

How do I opt in?

You will need to complete an opt in request form and send it to your employer.

What is the process for opting in?

When your opt in request is received, your employer will restart your pension membership and your contributions. This will usually take effect from your next pay period provided you have given enough notice.

What happens to my pension when I opt in?

You start building up alpha pension.

If you had a previous preserved alpha pension it may be joined up with your new period of service if your break between the two periods is five years or less.

What is automatic enrolment?

The Pensions Act 2011 requires all employers to automatically enrol most employees who are not in a qualifying pension scheme periodically (usually every three years), from the employer’s staging date. However, the Civil Service applies this to all employees.

I switched schemes to partnership, do I get automatically enrolled into alpha?

No. Being a member of partnership will count as being a scheme member. You will not be ‘switched’ back into alpha.

I opted out, do I get automatically enrolled into alpha?

Yes. Opting out means you are not a scheme member. You will be enrolled back into alpha.

I don’t want to be automatically enrolled. Do I have to go into alpha?

Your employer must enrol you, but you do not have to remain in alpha. You can supply a further opt out form to your employer.

After being automatically re-enrolled, opting out will have different results depending on when you do it, and your previous pensions.

If you opt out within one month of joining alpha, you will get a refund of contributions.

If you opt out after one month, you will get a refund of contributions if you have less than two years qualifying service, or a preserved pension if you have more than this.

Section 02 - Taking control of your retirement planning

General Information

Planning for your retirement is important.

As an active member of alpha you build up a pension based on your pensionable earnings each scheme year. There are ways that you can increase the pension you will get or change the date you can claim the full pension you have built up, by changing what you pay or when you choose to claim your benefits.

This section provides a guide to the various choices you can make, and the ways they can affect the pension you can get.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific pensions or other technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This section provides a guide to the various ways you can take control of your retirement planning. It does not cover every aspect of the scheme. Full details are set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. Every effort has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk

This section explains:

02A. What is taking control of my retirement planning?

An overview of how alpha members can take control of their retirement planning.

02B. Added pension

You can make extra payments to buy a separate additional pension that can be paid in full at the same Normal Pension Age (NPA) as your main alpha pension.

02C. EPA

You can make additional payments to buy an EPA portion of your alpha pension that can be paid without any early payment reduction before your alpha NPA. Information on your NPA can be found in Section 01 - General Information.

02D. Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contributions Scheme (CSAVCS)

You can make extra payments into a separate defined contribution pension fund with one of the scheme’s AVC providers. The amount of pension you can get when you retire depends on how much you pay and how your fund is invested.

02E. Thinking of retirement before your NPA

Some of the things to consider, and the effects on your pension, when you choose to take your benefits earlier than your NPA.

02F. Thinking of retirement after your NPA

Some of the things to consider, and the effects on your pension, when you choose to take your benefits after your NPA.

Section 02A - What is taking control of my retirement planning?

This is the set of decisions you can make regarding your pension. It covers things like:

  • if and when you would like to claim it
  • how much you can choose to pay to control how much you get
  • the options the scheme offers to buy additional pension or change the date your pension can be paid
  • taking your pension before or after your Normal Pension Age (NPA).

How can I take control?

You can choose when you want to claim your benefits. You can claim them before, at or after your alpha NPA. The date you claim your pension will affect the amount of pension that you will get in two ways:

  • The longer you stay in service and as a member of the scheme, the more alpha pension you will build up.
  • Your pension can be reduced if you claim it before your NPA, or it can be increased if you claim it later than your NPA.

In summary, the longer you work the more pension you will build up, and the later you retire the higher your pension will be.

How do I know how much pension I will get?

You will get a benefit statement each year that will show you how much pension you have built up. There are various tools available on the Civil Service Pensions website that you can use to estimate how much pension you may get at the time you want to claim it.

I know when I want to claim my benefits and have an idea of how much pension I will have built up. Can I do anything to change the amount of pension I will get?

You can increase the pension you can get by paying more to buy:

  • added pension. This is available to all active members, and there are no age limits
  • a separate AVC fund that you can use to fund your retirement
  • an EPA portion of your alpha pension that can be paid in full before your NPA. An EPA portion of your pension builds up at the same rate as your main alpha pension, and can be paid in full before your alpha NPA. You must be under your alpha NPA to start buying an EPA.

Section 02B - Added pension

What is added pension?

Added pension is an additional pension that you can choose to buy. It increases in line with rises in the cost of living every year both before and after it comes into payment. When you retire you can choose to give up some of your added pension to take a lump sum.

How can I pay for added pension?

You can buy added pension by monthly contribution or a one-off, lump sum payment.

You can choose to make an open-ended commitment to go on contributing every month, until you either leave the Civil Service pension scheme, or choose to cancel it.

Monthly added pension contracts start on 01 April. However, if you apply to buy added pension within the first three months of joining the scheme, we can backdate your contributions to your start date. Your contributions must be paid for the full scheme year and cannot be ceased before 31 March.

What does added pension buy?

As an alpha member you are able to select whether you want to purchase added pension for yourself only or for yourself and your dependants

Our added pension calculator will give you an idea of the cost of buying added pension.

Added pension and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 have purchased added pension.

Added pension in alpha and added pension in the PCSPS are separate.

You can have added pension under both schemes and both have their own maximum limits for the amount of added pension you can buy. You can still buy alpha added pension even if you have bought the maximum amount of PCSPS added pension.

Added pension from both alpha and the PCSPS count as part of your Lifetime Allowance and the growth in all of your pension savings is counted towards your Annual Allowance.

Section 02C - EPA

What is EPA?

EPA is a way to build up a portion of your alpha pension that can be paid earlier than your alpha Normal Pension Age (NPA), without any reduction.

How does EPA work?

You contribute to an EPA directly from your pay, in addition to your normal alpha contributions.

When you contribute to an EPA you build up an EPA portion of your alpha pension that is just like the main alpha pension. This builds up pension at 2.32% of your pensionable earnings for each year of scheme membership.

The EPA portion of your pension can be claimed a number of years before your alpha NPA without an early payment reduction depending on the EPA option you have selected.

It is only the EPA portion of your pension you build up (while contributing to an EPA) that can be paid in full before your NPA.

Can I buy an EPA portion of my pension?

Not everyone can buy an EPA, you must:

  • be an active member of alpha

and

  • not have bought the maximum added pension in alpha.

What options can I choose from?

You can choose an EPA option that can be paid a specified number of years before your alpha NPA without reduction. These options are:

  • one year earlier (alpha NPA minus one)
  • two years earlier (alpha NPA minus two)
  • three years earlier (alpha NPA minus three).

Age 65 is the earliest an EPA portion of an alpha pension can be paid without reduction. This may restrict the options you can choose from.

For example, if your alpha NPA is 67, you cannot choose an EPA option of NPA minus three, because that EPA portion could be paid without reduction before age 65.

If you are close to your NPA you must also note that you cannot select an EPA option that could be paid without any early payment reduction earlier than your current age.

For example, if your alpha NPA is 68, and you are age 66, you cannot select an EPA option of NPA minus three as this could be paid without early payment reduction from age 65 which is earlier than your current age.

What if I have a State Pension age (SPA) with a part year?

Your alpha NPA matches your SPA, so this can also include a part year, like 67 years and eight months or 66 years and six months. This will affect the EPA options you can choose.

For example, if your NPA is 67 years and six months you cannot choose an EPA option of NPA minus three, because that EPA portion could be paid without reduction before age 65.

However, because of the part year in your NPA there is a special option available, you may be able to choose an age 65 EPA option.

You are not buying a fixed age EPA. If in the future your SPA changes, the age 65 EPA option will be adjusted.

What if my State Pension age (SPA) changes?

Your alpha NPA is linked to your SPA, and SPA can change.

When you select an EPA option, you choose a number of years before your alpha NPA.

If your SPA changes, this will affect your alpha NPA. this means that the age that the EPA portion of your alpha pension can be paid in full changes too.

For example, if your alpha NPA was 67 and you chose an EPA option of your alpha NPA minus two, this EPA portion of your pension could be paid without any reduction from age 65 (two years before your alpha NPA).

If your SPA changes to 68, your alpha NPA changes too, and the EPA portion of your pension could only be paid in full from age 66. This is still two years before your alpha NPA.

You may have been able to choose an age 65 EPA option if you have a SPA with a part year (eg 67 years and six months). If your SPA changes, your alpha NPA changes too. Any EPA portions of your pension will be payable without any early payment reduction the same number of whole months before your NPA.

For example, if your NPA is 67 years and six months you may have chosen the age 65 EPA option that was available, this would be payable without reduction from age 65, which is two years and six months before your NPA. If your SPA changes to 68, your NPA changes with it. The age 65 EPA option will automatically become an NPA minus two years and six months EPA option.

This EPA portion of your alpha pension is now payable without any early payment reduction from age 65 years and six months.

When can I buy an EPA portion of my pension?

You buy an EPA portion of your pension by making regular monthly contributions from your pay. These always start on 01 April each year, and you must apply before the annual deadline that Civil Service Pensions will tell you each year.

You can apply at any time, but your option will not start until the start of the next scheme year (01 April).

You can apply to buy an EPA portion of your pension from your alpha start date, if you apply within three months of joining alpha. Your EPA option will be backdated to your start date, so you might have to pay some backdated contributions.

How much does it cost?

The cost will vary. We have produced an estimator that will be made available on the Civil Service Pensions website to allow you to see what the cost will be in the current year.

EPA contributions are higher than ordinary alpha contributions. The earlier you want to access your full pension, and the older you are, the higher the contributions will be.

An EPA option will normally start at the beginning of the scheme year (01 April), or from your start date if you are a new joiner and apply within three months of joining.

By signing the application you are agreeing to pay your EPA contributions until the end of the scheme year (31 March).

How do I pay?

Your contributions are taken direct from your pay, in the same way as your normal alpha contributions.

How do I apply to buy an EPA portion of my pension?

Once you have chosen which of the EPA options you want to buy, you will need to complete an EPA application. The application form is available on the forms page of the Civil Service Pensions website.

If you do not change or cancel your EPA option you will continue to make contributions and build up an EPA portion of your pension into the next scheme year.

The cost of buying an EPA portion of your pension will usually increase each year as you get older. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will send you information before each new scheme year telling you about any changes to your EPA contributions.

Can I cancel my EPA option?

Yes. Your cancellation will take effect at the end of the scheme year (31 March).

What happens to the EPA portion of my pension if I cancel?

You will stop paying the EPA contributions at the end of the scheme year, and return to only paying the ordinary alpha contributions, building up a pension that can be paid in full at your alpha NPA.

If you stop adding to the EPA portion of your pension it is held on your record alongside your main alpha pension.

Each year the EPA portion of your pension you have built up is adjusted in line with prices, at the same rate as the main alpha pension.

You can re-apply and start adding to this EPA portion of your alpha pension again at a later date.

Each portion could be reduced for early payment, paid in full, or increased for late payment differently, as each portion can be paid in full from a different age.

What happens to the EPA portion of my pension if I leave alpha?

Your EPA option is cancelled immediately on the day you leave. You keep the EPA portion of your pension that you have built up, unless you are leaving with less than two years’ service and you are eligible for a refund of all of your pension contributions, or a transfer out of the benefits you have built up. Your EPA contributions will be refunded or the EPA pension will form part of the transfer out, depending on which option you choose.

What if I re-join alpha?

If when you left, the EPA portion of your pension was cancelled, when you re-join it can be restarted automatically depending on the length of your break in service.

Your EPA option will automatically restart if you re-join alpha in five years or less. If this is the case, you will start making your EPA contributions immediately on re-joining. If you do not want to restart your EPA option, you must tell your employer as soon as possible after re-joining.

Can I change my EPA option?

Yes. When you change an EPA option, you are cancelling the original and replacing it with a new EPA option. This means that changes can only take effect from the start of the next scheme year (01 April). The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP), will tell you the deadline for making changes.

What happens to the EPA portion of my pension if I change my EPA option?

You stop building up the original EPA portion of your pension, and instead start building up another separate EPA portion.

Can I have more than one EPA option?

Yes. Over a number of years, you can build up different EPA portions of your pension, but you can only contribute to one EPA option at a time.

It is possible to have a pension under each of the three EPA options, and some pension in your main alpha pension too.

When you claim your pension, your main alpha pension and any EPA portions will come into payment at the same time. Each portion could be reduced for early payment, paid in full, or increased for late payment differently, as each portion can be paid in full from a different age.

If I have more than one EPA portion of my pension, can I claim them separately?

Partial retirement lets you claim part of your alpha pension; you can choose to only claim the EPA portion (or portions) that you have built up. This leaves your main alpha pension to be claimed when you fully retire. There is more information on options you will have in Section 05B - Partial retirement.

What if I claim an EPA portion of my pension early or late?

Just like the main alpha pension, the EPA portion of your alpha pension can be claimed from minimum pension age. This is currently age 55 in alpha.

If the EPA portion of your alpha pension is paid earlier than your chosen EPA age, it will be reduced for early payment. If the EPA portion of your pension is claimed later than your chosen EPA age, it will be increased for late payment. See Sections 02E and 02F for more details on late payment and early payment.

What if I continue working until my alpha NPA?

If you continue working after the date the EPA portion of your alpha pension could be paid in full, you cannot continue to contribute to it.

Your additional EPA contributions will cease on your birthday, and you will only make payments to, and build up, the main alpha pension only.

Do I get any tax relief?

Yes. You get tax relief on your EPA contributions just like your normal alpha contributions. Your employer applies your tax relief by taking your contributions before the tax on your pay is worked out.

Are there any other tax implications?

Yes. All your pension and lump sum benefits count as using up part of your Lifetime Allowance (LTA). If the total value of your pensions from all pension schemes exceeds your LTA you will need to pay an additional tax charge.

LTA information can be found in Section 07A - Your pension and tax or on the HM Revenue & Customs website.

Section 02D - Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contribution Scheme (CSAVCS)

What are Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)?

You can pay additional voluntary contributions to the CSAVCS. The current provider is Legal & General.

If you pay AVCs you will build up an additional pension pot which you can use to take an income and/ or lump sum from age 55 (or 50 if you joined our additional voluntary contribution scheme before 06 April 2006). You do not have to take these benefits at the same time as your Civil Service pension.

Visit: www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk for more information.

Section 02E - Thinking of retirement before your NPA

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.

The Civil Service Pensions website has an early retirement calculator which will give you an idea of the reduction applied to your benefits. Visit: www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk

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.

Section 02F - Thinking of retirement after your Normal Pension Age (NPA)

When is the latest I can retire?

Your alpha pension can be paid in full from your NPA, but you are under no obligation to retire at that point. You can continue to build up benefits in alpha as long as you remain an active member of alpha.

However, building up and claiming pensions after age 75 can have an effect on the tax relief you will receive.

Do I have to leave employment?

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

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

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

This means the pension is increased, because of the lower number of years it is expected to be paid.

How is an adjustment worked out?

The pension you have built up to the date you retire is adjusted by the factor that’s right for your age, and your NPA.

The simple rule is that the later you take your pension the larger an increase you’ll see in your pension that gets paid to you.

Will the adjustments always be the same?

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

Does a late payment adjustment apply to alpha preserved pensions?

Yes. If you claim your pension late, it gets increased for late payment as well as being adjusted in line with prices.

What if I have bought an EPA?

Your EPA portion of your alpha pension can be paid before your NPA. If you have an EPA portion and take it after EPA your pension will be increased to reflect you choosing to take it later than expected.

Can I still exchange pension for a lump sum?

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

Thinking of retiring after your Normal Pension Age (NPA), alpha and the 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 late.

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

Your PCSPS pension is based on the rules of that scheme, and currently only nuvos pensions are increased for late payment. The other schemes have the payments backdated, as if they were paid from your NPA in the PCSPS, or from the day after you left employment that was covered by the scheme (if that is later).

Section 03 - Life events

General Information

Pension scheme membership usually spans many years, and from time to time your personal circumstances can change.

These changes could be anything from having a baby, to getting divorced, or having a break from employment and it is important to think about the impact these life events can have on your pension benefits. As well as providing for your retirement, alpha also includes benefits for your dependants.

This section of the guide explains how the various life events can affect your pension.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific pensions or other technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

It does not cover every aspect of the scheme. Full details are set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of alpha.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. Every effort has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk.

This section explains:

03A. Maternity, paternity and adoption leave

How taking time off work after a new arrival affects your pension.

03B. Divorce, dissolution, and annulment

Information on the ways your pension can be impacted during a divorce etc.

03C. Taking time off

Sickness and career breaks and how they affect your alpha pension.

Section 03A - Maternity, paternity and adoption leave

What is maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and adoption leave?

Maternity, paternity and shared parental leave allow a parent to take paid time off work when their child is born

Is this a pension scheme benefit?

No. This is related mainly to employment law, and most employees have a right to some form of maternity, paternity or shared parental leave. Your employer will be able to give you more information on your entitlement.

What if I adopt a child?

In most cases there is adoption leave. A paid break from employment when a newly adopted child moves into your home. You must check with your employer for details of your entitlement to this type of leave.

Am I still an alpha member when I am on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave?

Yes. Unless you choose to leave alpha, opt out, or switch (see Section 01D - Your other options) you will remain an alpha member.

Would I still have to pay contributions?

If you take maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, you would continue to pay the same percentage rate in contributions, but this would be based on the amount of pay you are actually receiving, rather than your usual pensionable earnings.

This includes when your pay drops to statutory pay.

If your leave is unpaid, you do not receive pay, so will not have to make contributions.

How much alpha pension do I build up?

While on paid maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave your alpha pension will build up as if your pensionable earnings were at their usual level. Your usual level of pay is called ‘assumed pay’.

For example:

Lesley’s usual pay is £1,750 per month (or £21,000 a year) and she pays a monthly contribution rate of 4.6%, around £80.50 per month.

During a period of adoption leave her monthly pay reduces to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) of approximately £560 per month.

While Lesley is getting SMP her contributions are based on the actual pay she receives of £560 per month. So Lesley’s alpha contributions are 4.6% of £560, which is around £26 per month. Her employer continues to pay contributions too.

Lesley’s alpha pension will be worked out as if she had been paid her usual salary of £1,750 for each month that she was getting SMP.

If Lesley had a period of unpaid leave, and both her and her employer’s contributions stop, then this period does not count towards her pension.

Section 03B - Divorce, dissolution, and annulment

Does ending my marriage or civil partnership affect my alpha pension?

A dependant pension may be due to an eligible surviving adult, such as a spouse, civil partner or partner, upon your death. Changes to your relationship status do not automatically affect your pension but could affect what benefits could be paid out if you die. For example: if you no longer had a partner, no partners’ pension would be paid. You should make sure you keep your death benefit nomination up to date if your personal circumstances change.


It is worth noting that your pension may be included in any payment / settlement agreed as part of divorce or dissolution proceedings.

Can my pension be paid to my ex-spouse / ex-civil partner?

The courts can decide that your ex-spouse / ex-civil partner is entitled to some of the pension you have built up during your marriage or are receiving (if you are already a pensioner) as part of your divorce settlement; and this can take the form of either an earmarking order, a pension sharing order, or a pension attachment order.

Who can help me understand the effect it will have on my pension?

While you are going through a divorce or dissolution your legal advisor / lawyer will be able to explain the full implications of earmarking and / or pension sharing order. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will be able to provide the specific details that you will require.

Where can I find out more?

These orders are carried out using rules from the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999.

You can find out further information on the Pension Advisory Service website: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

What is the process for applying an order?

You (or your solicitor) must tell the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) in writing, the terms (or what the terms are expected to be) of the court order when you know them.

The court will need the details of your pension benefits when deciding if it should include an order in the divorce or dissolution.

The court will usually need two things, a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) estimate of your pension benefits and a copy of this pension scheme guide to explain how alpha works.

You must send the actual court order to Civil Service Pensions as soon as you receive it, along with the decree absolute (or dissolution certificate) and any other information that you are asked to provide.

How does my former spouse / civil partner get paid?

Attachment orders, also called earmarking orders.

Payments will be paid to your ex-spouse or civil partner when you claim your pension (retire). If the attachment order or earmarking order is for a regular payment, the payments will stop if you die before your former spouse / civil partner, or if they remarry or enter into a civil partnership in the future.

If the earmarking order includes a lump sum, these payments will still be made if they remarry or enter into a civil partnership in the future. But if they die before you, no payments will be made.

Pension sharing order

Your former spouse / civil partner will get a pension credit.

This is a pension that is based on a percentage of the CETV of your pension benefits.

The amount of pension they get will be worked out based on their age and gender. This can mean that the pension they get could be higher or lower than the amount you give up.

How do I get a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) estimate?

If you are still in service and need an estimate of the value of the pension you have built up, you can ask the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) for a CETV estimate. You should tell them it is for use in divorce / dissolution proceedings.

If you are currently in service, or a former member and not yet receiving your pension, you can get a CETV estimate free of charge once a year.

Are there any other charges?

You are not charged for your first CETV estimate each year, but you will have to pay for any further CETV estimates that you ask for after that.

Civil Service Pensions charge for some of the services and information it provides. The charges are reviewed each year. The court order will normally state who is liable to pay any charges.

The courts can decide that the costs are to be paid by you or your former spouse / civil partner, or that the costs are split between you. You can decide to pay the costs directly or to have your pension benefits reduced to cover the charges that are due.

How are benefits transferred under a pension sharing order?

Once you have passed on details of the order, and payments have been made, the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) works out the amount of pension benefits to be transferred based on your benefits up to the ‘effective date’.

The percentage (or amount) stated in the order is applied to the estimated value of your benefits at the effective date.

This amount is then transferred, in the form of pension benefits, to your former spouse or civil partner.

I am already getting my pension – what happens?

If you are already getting your pension, you may have to pay back some of the pension you have received.

This is because your pension will be reduced to take into account the court order. The start of your new lower rate of pension is backdated to the effective date stipulated in the court order.

What if I leave on ill-health grounds, or retire early?

If you are leaving on ill-health grounds or retire early, the pension sharing order, earmarking order or attachment order is applied at the point your pension starts being paid. The amount to be taken from your pension for the earmarking or sharing order is reduced to reflect the early payment of your pension. 

What happens to Attachment orders and earmarking orders when I retire?

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will ask you and your former spouse / civil partner to confirm that the order is still valid, by checking the marital status of your former spouse or civil partner.

Any benefit statements you receive will indicate whether the pension debit has been deducted.

What happens to a pension sharing order when I retire?

The actions are taken to set up your former spouse’s / civil partner’s pension when the order is applied. Your percentage of your alpha payment will come into payment when you retire.

Section 03C - Taking time off

How does taking time off affect my alpha pension?

This depends on the type of break it is. There are two main types, paid and unpaid.

What sort of break is paid?

These are usually your annual leave, and some paid ‘special leave’. This also includes some periods of time off work when you are sick. This can be either at full pay, or a reduced level. Your employer will be able to tell you more about what types of absence are paid.

How do these paid absences affect my pension?

Having paid time off work does not have any effect on your pension. Because you are still earning, you will still build up your alpha pension in the usual way.

What sort of break is unpaid?

This can be a career break, a day where you strike as part of a Union, or periods of sickness where you cannot get any pay (because you have been off for an extended period of time).

How do these unpaid absences affect my pension?

Having unpaid time off work does have an effect on your pension. Because you are not earning, you will not build up any alpha pension.

I am getting sick pay at pension rate (SPPR); do I build up any alpha pension?

If you are receiving SPPR even though you are being paid, you will not build up any alpha pension. Your employer decides if you should receive SPPR instead of being on an unpaid absence.

What if I am off work for an extended period of time, what happens to my pension?

If you are on an extended break you are still an active member. Although you might not add any pension based on your earnings (if you are not getting paid) it is still eligible for the annual adjustments applied to active members’ pensions.

How does my pension build up while I am getting sick pay?

You can usually only pay contributions and build up pension in alpha if you are actually working or if you are on paid leave. If you are on unpaid leave, you will generally not receive pensionable earnings for that period.

If you are on paid sick leave, you will build up alpha pension as usual. If your pay reduces to half rate, you will still build up pension as if your actual pensionable earnings were at the full rate.

However, if you are getting sick pay at pension rate this does not count as pensionable earnings.

What if I work somewhere else?

If you are on loan or secondment to another employer, they will work together to agree the terms before this period of loan starts. These terms will determine how you will continue to pay your alpha contributions.

Section 04 - Leaving the scheme

General Information

Not everybody stays in the pension scheme until they retire. When you leave, the benefits you have built up will depend on how much qualifying service you have in the alpha pension scheme, including service relating to a transfer in from another scheme.

Qualifying service is the length of time that you have been a member of alpha, and the amount that you build up qualifies you for certain benefits. In alpha you need to have at least two years’ qualifying service (or have brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement) to get a pension.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific pensions or other technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This section provides a guide to leaving alpha. It does not cover every aspect of alpha. Full details are set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. Every effort has been made to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk.

This section explains:

04A.Leaving with less than two years’ service

A guide to what you can receive and the options you will get if you leave with less than two years’ service.

04B. Leaving with more than two years’ service

A guide to what you can receive and the options you will get if you leave with two or more years’ qualifying service (or have brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement).

04C. Re-joining alpha after leaving

How your pension could be affected if you re-join alpha after leaving. Your pensions may be joined up, or remain separate.

04D. Transferring your pension out of alpha

A guide to transferring your alpha pension to another pension scheme.

Section 04A - Leaving with less than two years’ service

I am leaving before I have built up two years’ qualifying service, what do I get?

Because you have not built up enough qualifying service in the scheme to qualify for a pension you get to choose from two options.

You can receive:

  • a refund of your contributions less deductions; or
  • a cash transfer sum to purchase benefits within another pension arrangement.

If you leave within one month of joining, or after one month but within three months and do not have any previous service, you cannot transfer your alpha pension into another arrangement but you will be entitled to a refund of your contributions which your employer will process through the normal payroll.

If you can transfer your pension into another arrangement you must apply within strict time limits; you will be advised of these when you get your transfer quote.

What is a refund of contributions?

This is a refund of the pension contributions that you have paid, less deductions for tax.

It is only the money that you have paid in that will be refunded, not any contributions paid by your employer.

What is a cash transfer sum?

This is the value of the notional pension benefits you have built up. You can choose to transfer it into another pension scheme. There is more information about transferring your pension in Section 04D - Transferring your pension out of alpha.

Can I have a preserved pension instead?

No, unless you have two years’ qualifying service (or have brought a transfer in from a personal pension) you are not entitled to a preserved pension in alpha.

I transferred in a pension from another pension scheme. Does this affect anything?

The transfer in will have bought you some additional alpha pension.

A transfer in from a personal pension allows your pension to be preserved even if you have less than two years’ service.

I was buying an EPA. Does this affect my refund or transfer?

Your refund will take into account the higher contributions you were paying. Your transfer will be worked out to reflect the value of the EPA portion of your pension.

I was buying added pension. Does this affect my refund or transfer?

Your refund will include your added pension contributions that you paid. Your transfer will include any added pension that you had bought.

When and how do I claim my refund?

Shortly after you leave you will get an estimate of your refund and cash transfer sum, and a form to return telling the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) your preferred option.

If you choose a refund it will be paid into the bank account you have provided us with the details of.

When and how do I start the transfer process?

When you get the estimate of your refund and cash transfer sum, you can advise the Scheme Administrator of your preferred option and the details of where you want to transfer your benefits.

You must return the form within three months stating that you would like a transfer. You and the receiving scheme will need to complete the relevant discharge papers to enable the transfer to be paid.

Section 04B - Leaving with two or more years’ service

I am leaving after I have built up two years’ qualifying service, what do I get?

You will get a pension if you either have two or more years’ qualifying service or have brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement.

If you are leaving before you are old enough to claim your pension (the minimum pension age in alpha is currently age 55) or just do not want to claim it yet, you will get a preserved pension.

Do I have to leave my job?

No. Your pension will be preserved when you leave the pension scheme. This can happen when you resign from your current job, but also if you choose to opt out of the pension scheme.

What is a preserved pension?

This is the pension you have built up to the date you leave alpha. This pension is then adjusted in line with prices each year.

Can I have a refund of contributions or a transfer out instead?

As you have qualified for a pension, you cannot have a refund of your contributions. However, you may be able to transfer out your preserved pension (to a qualifying scheme) at a later date. We are unable to transfer benefits to a defined contribution arrangement if you have qualified for a pension.

I transferred in a pension from another pension scheme. Does this affect anything?

The transfer in will have bought you some additional alpha pension, and this will make up part of your preserved pension.

Generally if you bring in a transfer from a personal pension you will be eligible for a preserved pension.

How is the preserved award worked out?

Each year 2.32% of your pensionable earnings is added to your alpha pension, and at the start of every scheme year the total pension you have built up is adjusted in line with prices. Section 01B - Building up your benefits has more detail on this.

When your pension is preserved 2.32% of your current year’s earnings are added to the benefits you have built up to date. The total forms the basis of your preserved pension. From this point each year your preserved alpha pension is adjusted in line with prices.

I was buying an EPA. Does this affect anything?

Your preserved pension will include the EPA portion of your alpha pension that you were buying.

I was buying added pension. Does this affect anything?

Your preserved pension will include your added pension.

Does my preserved pension increase in value?

Each year your pension is adjusted in line with prices.

When can I claim my preserved pension?

If you want to claim your alpha pension in full, without any early payment reduction, you must wait until your alpha Normal Pension Age (NPA).

If you have bought an EPA, the portion of your alpha pension attributable to the EPA option can be claimed unreduced from your selected EPA date; any amount of normal alpha pension brought in to payment will be reduced.

Does claiming before my NPA affect my pension?

Yes. Your pension will be reduced for early payment if you claim it before your NPA because it is likely to be paid for a longer period of time.

The exact amount of reduction can vary, but in general the earlier you claim your pension, the greater the reduction will be.

This reduction is permanent. Your pension will not return to its full value once you reach your NPA.

EPA portions of your pension can be paid in full one, two or three years earlier than your alpha NPA depending on the EPA option you chose.

Does claiming it after my alpha NPA affect my pension?

Yes. Your pension will be increased for late payment if it is claimed after your NPA, because it is likely to be paid for a shorter period of time.

The exact amount of increase can vary. Every year after your NPA that you do not claim it, you get an additional increase added to your preserved pension.

These increases stop once you have claimed your pension.

How do I claim my preserved pension?

You will need to contact Civil Service Pensions to start the process of claiming your pension. You should give at least four months’ notice to ensure that everything is in place in time for your first payment date.

You will get a quote and claim forms to complete and return to the Scheme Administrator confirming your chosen options and personal details.

Leaving with two or more years’ service, including the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you leave.

I was in the PCSPS before moving into alpha. How does this affect me?

If you have more than two years’ total qualifying service, we will preserve your benefits. You will have two preserved pensions, one for your benefits in the PCSPS and one for your benefits in alpha.

I was in alpha for less than two years. Do I get a refund of my contributions?

You are eligible for a refund only if your total qualifying service is under two years. If your combined qualifying service in the PCSPS and alpha is two or more years, you will get a preserved pension in each scheme.

I am leaving before my alpha NPA, but after my PCSPS NPA.

If you leave employment as well as alpha, and you are over your PCSPS NPA (usually age 60, or age 65 for nuvos), you can get your PCSPS pension paid immediately. Your alpha pension will still be preserved

unless you are over the minimum pension age and you claim it early. The alpha pension will be reduced for early payment.

I am leaving before both my alpha NPA and PCSPS NPA.

You will get a preserved pension based on both schemes.

If you are over the scheme’s minimum pension age you can look into claiming the pension on early payment terms. Each part of your pension could have a different minimum pension age and would be reduced for early payment.

I am leaving after both my alpha NPA and PCSPS NPA.

You will have the option to take both of your pensions paid immediately.

I was in classic, classic plus, premium. Are there any special considerations?

You will still be able to claim the classic, classic plus or premium parts of your pension in full from that scheme’s NPA. For most people this is age 60.

The final salary we will use to calculate this part of your pension will be your pensionable earnings or final pensionable earnings worked out under the rules for that scheme.

I was in nuvos. Are there any special considerations?

You will still be able to claim the nuvos part of your pension in full from the nuvos scheme’s NPA, for most people this is age 65.

If you have any final salary elements to this pension, from a Club scheme or you have linked service from a previous classic, classic plus, or premium pension, we will use your pensionable earnings worked out under the nuvos rules.

My classic or classic plus pension had an automatic lump sum. Will I still get this?

Yes. You will get the automatic lump sum from the classic or classic plus part of your pension when you claim your preserved pension.

Section 04C - Re-joining alpha after leaving

This information applies to anyone who has left the alpha scheme and then re-joined. This can be as a result of resigning and being re-employed, or opting out and then re-joining alpha at a later date.

Will everybody who re-joins alpha be treated in the same way?

No. How your pensions are treated will depend on:

  • whether or not you have some pension benefits retained in alpha
  • how long the break in your scheme membership was.

Do you have some pension benefits in alpha?

Yes - You will have been awarded a preserved pension if you left with more than two years’ service (or have brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement). If you still have this preserved pension, you have pension benefits in alpha.

The length of your break in membership (see question 2) will also influence what will happen to your alpha pension on re-joining.

No – you will not have any benefits in alpha if:

  • you left with less than two years’ service and took a refund of your contributions
  • you transferred your pension benefits into another scheme.

You will be treated as a new entrant when you join alpha.

How long was the break in your scheme membership?

  • A break of five years or less is a qualifying break.

Re-joining alpha after a qualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will be automatically linked to your new period of service.

You will join alpha and your previous preserved pension will be cancelled. Some adjustments, based on prices, will be applied as if you had continued to be an active member during your time out of the scheme.

You will then start adding to your pension again.

  • A break of five or more years is a disqualifying break.

Re-joining alpha after a disqualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will remain preserved.

You will join alpha as a new entrant and start building up a new and separate alpha pension.

Re-joining and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you re-join the scheme.

What happens if I re-join alpha?

If you re-join alpha after leaving, and also have some service in the PCSPS (classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos), how your pension is treated will depend on:

  • whether or not you have preserved benefits
  • how long your break was.

Just like members who only have alpha benefits, you will need to have a preserved pension in alpha or in PCSPS, otherwise you will be treated as a new entrant when you re-join.

I have a preserved pension and have re-joined more than five years later. What happens to my pension?

Re-joining alpha after a disqualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will not be changed, and will stay as it is.

You will join alpha as a new entrant and build up a new and separate alpha pension. Your PCSPS benefits will stay preserved too.

If during the period that you were not a member of alpha or PCSPS you worked for and joined the pension arrangement of another public service employer, special conditions may apply. Your employer will be able to tell you more about this. 

I have a preserved pension and have re-joined in five years or less. What happens to my pension?

Re-joining alpha after a qualifying break will mean that your preserved pension will be automatically linked to your new period of service.

You will join alpha and your previous preserved alpha pension will be cancelled and re-calculated to include any price changes; it will be as if you had continued to be an active member during your time out of the scheme.

You will then start adding to your pension again.

Your PCSPS pension, immediately before you moved to alpha, will be cancelled too. The service (or benefits if you were in nuvos) will be banked again. Your pension benefits will be worked out again the next time you leave.

Any benefits based on a final salary related to a classic, classic plus, or premium pension, or a nuvos pension with final salary elements will be worked out using your pensionable earnings or final pensionable earnings using the rules for that section of the scheme, when you next leave.

Section 04D - Transferring your pension out of alpha

Can I transfer my pension out into another scheme?

You can apply to transfer your pension benefits to an eligible scheme, whether you have a preserved pension, or whether you are leaving with less than two years’ service. Due to changes in legislation, you are not able to transfer preserved benefits to a Defined Contribution arrangement.

Why was I given a transfer out quote when I left alpha?

If you leave with less than two years’ service (and haven’t brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement) you will get a quote showing your refund amount and the cash transfer sum in respect of the pension you have built up so far.

You have a limited time period to apply to transfer your pension. The deadline will be shown on the letter that you get.

How do I ask for a transfer quote?

If you leave with two or more years’ service (and haven’t brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement) you will not get a transfer quote automatically when you leave alpha.

You can request a transfer value quote from the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) in writing, by post or email.

The Scheme Administrator will send you a quote and the application forms to use if you choose to go ahead and arrange a transfer out to another pension scheme. If you want to proceed with the transfer, you and your new pension scheme will need to sign the appropriate discharge papers. Due to changes in legislation you will not be able to transfer your benefits to a Defined Contribution arrangement.

How many transfer quotes can I have?

You can have one quote free of charge each year.

What if I need more quotes?

You can get additional quotes but you may be charged for this.

How long is my transfer quote guaranteed for?

The transfer quote is guaranteed for three months. If you do not confirm your intention to transfer within this three month period, the transfer value will be re-calculated and it may be higher or lower than the original amount.

How do I accept the quote and get the transfer to go ahead?

When you get a transfer quote, you will need to provide the details to your new scheme. Once you decide that you want to go ahead you should confirm to the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) using the form that will be included with your quote. You and your new scheme will need to complete the appropriate discharge papers.

Once you have returned your forms, both schemes will work together to transfer your benefits.

Is there any reason why I cannot transfer my pension?

If you left with less than two years’ service (and haven’t brought a transfer in from another pension arrangement) you must have started the transfer process within the deadline set out in the letters you get, or you will receive a refund of contributions.

If you qualified for a preserved pension, you cannot transfer your alpha pension to a Defined Contribution or money purchase scheme. A transfer to a Defined Contribution or money purchase scheme is possible if you left without qualifying for a preserved pension.

The pension scheme you are transferring to may have its own timescales and requirements that you must meet.

Your new scheme must be UK tax registered, and be able to accept the transfer under the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) regulations.

Is there anywhere that I cannot transfer my pension into?

You can usually only transfer your pension into a UK pension scheme, which is registered by HM Revenue & Customs, or a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (the ROPS list).

Your new pension scheme must be both appropriately registered and willing to accept the transfer.

If I do transfer out, what benefits will I have left in alpha?

A transfer out removes all of your pension rights in alpha and you will have no benefits left in alpha if you choose to transfer out.

I was buying an EPA / added pension, is this included?

Any added pension or any EPA portion of your pension that you were buying will be included when your transfer value is worked out. If you decide to proceed with the transfer it will include the value of the added pension and EPA portion of your pension you have purchased.

If you make additional contributions to the Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contribution Scheme (CSAVCS), these funds are not included in your transfer value. This is a different scheme and you will have to request a separate transfer from your CSAVCS provider.

Section 05 - Claiming your pension

General Information

In this section you will find an outline of various ways you can access your pension benefits at full retirement, partial retirement or due to ill-health.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This section provides a guide to claiming your pension. But it does not cover every aspect of the scheme; full details will be set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. We have made every effort to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk

This section explains:

05A. Thinking about retirement

Information you should find helpful if you are thinking about retirement.

05B. Partial retirement

A guide to taking partial retirement, and the benefits you could get.

05C. Full retirement

A guide to taking full retirement, and the benefits you could get.

05D. Ill-health retirement

Claiming your pension when you leave work before your Normal Pension Age because of your health.

05E. Payment of pensions

A brief guide on how to get your alpha pension put into payment.

05F. Exchanging pension for a lump sum

How much you can get, and when you can claim your lump sum.

05G. Re-employment after receiving your pension

A guide to how re-joining alpha would affect your pension in payment.

Section 05A - Thinking about retirement

When can I claim my pension?

You can claim your full alpha pension benefits if you retire when you reach your alpha Normal Pension Age (NPA).

The NPA in alpha is the later of age 65 or your State Pension age (SPA). If your SPA changes, your alpha NPA will also change.

NPA is the earliest you can take your pension in full. You can apply for your alpha pension at any time from age 55 but your alpha pension will be permanently reduced because the pension will be paid for longer.

What do I have to do to claim my pension?

At least four months before you plan to retire you should discuss your plans with your employer so they know the date you plan to leave.

Your employer will let the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) know the date you intend to retire.

If you are looking to claim a preserved pension you will need to complete and return the “deferred retirement form” which is available on the Civil Service Pensions website.

You will then receive a quote showing the pension you should expect to receive, and some forms to complete. You should use the Personal Details Form to confirm the details like your address, marital status and also your bank or building society information.

You also need to supply the details of any other pension arrangements you have. This should include any pensions that you have already taken, or are about to take. These figures and your alpha pension will be checked against your Lifetime Allowance (LTA). For further information see Section 07A – Your pension and tax.

How and when do I get my pension paid to me?

Your pension will be paid into the bank or building society you confirmed on your Personal Details Form.

Your pension is paid monthly in arrears. If you have requested a lump sum, it will be paid after your retirement once all the necessary documentation has been received and your benefits have been processed. You should not enter into any financial commitments until you have received confirmation that your benefits have been authorised.

Can I carry on working after I claim my pension?

Partial retirement is the only way you can claim some of the pension you have built up and continue to work and build up more alpha pension. If you want to know more, details can be found in Section 05B – Partial retirement

How much pension will I get?

You will receive an annual benefit statement, this shows how your pension is building up, and what you could get when you retire.

Your benefits are made up of an annual pension and an option to exchange part of the pension for a tax- free lump sum. You can get a lump sum by exchanging some of your pension. Your pension will be lower if you choose this option.

If you have bought any added pension, or an EPA portion of your pension, it will be paid with your pension when you retire. You will get your pension paid for life.

Thinking about retirement with an 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 parts of your pension.

If you have banked service in classic, classic plus, or premium or banked benefits in nuvos, your pension from that scheme will normally come into payment when you claim your alpha pension.

If you have some banked service in classic or classic plus, you will receive an automatic lump sum from these arrangements.

You will still get the option of taking an additional lump sum in exchange for part of your pension from any of these schemes as well as the option to exchange some of your alpha pension for a lump sum.

Section 05B - Partial retirement

What is partial retirement?

Partial retirement allows members to take some or all of their pension and carry on working.

Why would I partially retire instead of fully retiring?

Partial retirement lets you take some or all of the pension you have built up and continue to work. While you stay in work, you can continue to build up more pension.

Can I partially retire?

Partial retirement is available for all active members subject to agreement from your employer, but you must:

  • be over your minimum pension age
  • have built up some alpha pension
  • be able to reduce your earnings by at least 20%.

Because partial retirement involves making changes to your job to reduce your earnings, you must have the agreement of your employer. If your employer agrees to the changes, you can apply.

Do I have to wait until my Normal Pension Age (NPA)?

No. You could partially retire from alpha’s minimum pension age which is currently age 55. But if you do partially retire before your alpha NPA, your pension will be reduced because it is likely to be paid for a longer time.

How do I reduce my earnings by 20%?

This can be done in one of two ways.

  • Changing your job – to a lower paid role.
  • Changing how much time you work – dropping your contracted hours.

If I change to a lower paid job, does it have to be with the same employer?

No. Both employers must be covered by the Civil Service Pension arrangements and you must not have a break in service between jobs. Because you are changing where you work, you will need to get both employers to sign your application.

How does partial retirement work?

After your employer agrees to you changing your job so you are able to partially retire, the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will give you a quote of the pension you have built up, and the forms you will need to complete to apply for partial retirement. You must give at least four months’ notice.

You can decide how much of your alpha pension you want to take. This can be up to 100% of what you have built up so far. Once you have made your choice, you will need to complete and return the forms.

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will put your chosen pension into payment as close to your partial retirement date as possible.

You will remain at work, earning at least 20% less, and receiving your pension too. If you choose to remain in alpha, you will build up a further pension that you can claim when you fully retire.

How many times can I partially retire?

You can only partially retire once using your alpha pension benefits.

Will my alpha pension be reduced (abated) because I am still earning?

No. Any alpha pension you receive will be paid in addition to your salary. alpha pensions are not subject to abatement.

What if I have an EPA or a Club transfer in?

Each EPA part of your pension is adjusted for late or early payment independently; see Sections 02E and 02F for more details on late payment and early payment. A Club transfer is adjusted in the same way.

In these situations your alpha pension can be made up of multiple portions. Your main alpha pension, any EPA portion of your pension you have bought, and any Club transfers you have brought in.

You can choose one of these portions, and then select to use any amount from that portion for your partial retirement. This can be anything up to 100% of that portion of your pension.

For each of the remaining portions, you can choose to take all of it, or leave it until you fully retire. You cannot take a percentage of these other portions.

Can I still exchange some alpha pension for a lump sum?

Yes. This is based on your pension that will be coming into payment. You will get the details of the maximum amount you can take with your partial retirement quote. This is subject to the usual limits set by HM Revenue & Customs. Your alpha pension will be less if you take a lump sum.

What about tax?

When your pension comes into payment it will be checked against the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) to see how much of the LTA it uses up. If your pensions go over 100% of the LTA you will have to pay a tax charge.

Pensions in payment are taxed as an income, so the exact amount you pay is determined by how much you get. Any lump sum that you choose is usually tax-free.

Partial retirement and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 your options at partial retirement from both your alpha and PCSPS pension.

If you have either banked benefits, or banked service, from the PCSPS your total pension will be made from different portions; your PCSPS benefits and your alpha pension (and any EPA portions of your pension or Club transfers you have).

What pensions can I claim at partial retirement?

You can choose to claim some or all of your pensions at partial retirement. For example, you may wish to choose to claim either your PCSPS pension, or your alpha pension, or if you wish, you may choose to take them both at the same time.

Can I choose to partially retire only using my PCSPS pension?

Yes. You still need to meet the requirements of reducing your earnings by 20%, be over your minimum pension age and your employer must agree.

My PCSPS minimum pension age is 50. Can I partially retire at that age?

Yes, but only using your PCSPS pension, and your employer must agree.

Can I choose to partially retire and not take any of my PCSPS pension?

Yes. You can choose to leave your PCSPS benefits to be claimed at a later date and take your alpha benefits only as long as you are over your alpha minimum pension age.

How many times can I partially retire?

You can only partially retire once using your alpha pension benefits and once using your PCSPS pension benefits.

If you choose to take the alpha and PCSPS parts of your pension at the same time, you can only partially retire once.

If you choose to claim only your PCSPS pension at partial retirement, you can, at a later date, choose to partially retire only using your alpha pension.

You can do this the other way round too, if you partially retire only using your alpha pension, you can partially retire at a later date using only your PCSPS pension.

If you choose to partially retire a second time using the other part of your benefits, you must meet all the criteria again. Your employer must agree, you must be over the minimum pension age, and you must reduce your earnings by a further 20%.

My PCSPS pension was based on a final salary. When is this worked out?

This is worked out at, or close to, the date you claim your pension under the rules for the relevant section of the scheme.

Do I get a lump sum from the PCSPS part of my benefits?

In premium and nuvos, you get the option to exchange some of your pension for a lump sum. If you were a classic or classic plus member you will still get the automatic lump sum and you may have an option to exchange some of your pension for an additional lump sum.

I was in classic / classic plus. Can I get a refund of Widows Pension Scheme (WPS) contributions?

You can receive a refund of your WPS contributions, if you were always single while a member and have remained single until you claim your pension. You may also get a refund if your marriage / civil partnership ended while you were a classic / classic plus member and have remained single until you claim your pension. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will check your eligibility when working out your pension.

Your refund will be paid when you claim all of your PCSPS pension. It can be paid at partial retirement, if you claim 100% of your PCSPS pension. If you do not claim 100%, any WPS refund will be paid when you fully retire but may be subject to extra tax or need to be converted into pension.

What is abatement and will it apply to me?

If you partially retire using your PCSPS benefits your pension may be abated while you continue to work. This is because your PCSPS pension and new salary added together cannot be more than your salary before you partially retired.

Section 05C - Full retirement

What is full retirement?

Full retirement is for members who want to start accessing their pension, and are ready to leave work completely.

Can I fully retire?

Full retirement is available for all active members, but you must:

  • be over your minimum pension age (current age 55)
  • have built up some alpha pension.

Do I have to wait until my Normal Pension Age (NPA)?

No. You could retire from alpha’s minimum pension age. But if you do take it before your alpha NPA, it will be reduced because it is likely to be paid for a longer time.

How does retirement work?

After being notified of your chosen retirement date the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will send you a quote of the pension you have built up and the forms you need to complete to claim it.

You will need to complete and return the forms and documentation to confirm your chosen option. Your pension will be payable monthly in arrears and any lump sum will be paid once the correct documents are received and the scheme administrator has processed your benefits. You should not enter into any financial commitments until you have received the payment.

What if I have an EPA or a Club transfer in?

Each EPA portion of your pension is adjusted for late or early payment independently; see Sections 02E and 02F for more details on late payment and early payment. A Club transfer is adjusted this way too.

Can I exchange some alpha pension for a lump sum?

Yes. This is based on your pension that will be coming into payment. You will get the details of the maximum amount you can take with your retirement quote. This is subject to limits set by HM Revenue & Customs.

What about tax?

When your pension comes into payment it will be checked against the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) to see how much of the LTA it uses up. If your pensions go over 100% of the LTA you will have to pay a tax charge.

Pensions in payment are taxed as an income, the exact amount you pay is determined by how much you get. Any lump sum that you choose is usually tax free.

Full retirement and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 your options at retirement from both parts of your pension.

If you have either banked benefits, or banked service, from the PCSPS your total pension will be made from two different parts; your PCSPS benefits and your alpha pension.

Can I claim my PCSPS pension at retirement?

Yes. Your pension will come into payment when you claim it at retirement.

My PCSPS minimum pension age is 50. Can I retire at that age?

Yes, but only claiming your PCSPS pension. This means when you leave employment, your alpha pension will be preserved to be claimed at a later date. If you are still employed in the Civil Service or return to Civil Service employment your pension may be reduced (abated).

My PCSPS pension was based on a final salary. When is this worked out?

This is worked out at, or close to, the date you retire, based on the rules of the relevant section of the scheme.

Do I get a lump sum from the PCSPS part of my benefits?

In premium and nuvos you get the option to exchange some of your pension for a lump sum. If you were a classic or classic plus member you will still get the automatic lump sum and you may have an option to exchange some of your pension for an additional lump sum.

I was in classic or classic plus. Can I get a refund of Widows Pension Scheme (WPS) contributions?

You can receive a refund of your WPS contributions, if you were single when you left classic / classic plus and have remained single until you claim your pension. You may also get a refund if your marriage / civil partnership ended while you were a classic / classic plus and have remained single until you claim your pension. The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will check your eligibility when working out your pension. Your refund will be paid when you claim all of your PCSPS pension.

Section 05D - Ill-health retirement

If you have to leave work before your Normal Pension Age (NPA) because of your health, you can apply for ill-health retirement.

How do I qualify for ill-health retirement?

You have to satisfy the following two criteria:

  • You must have enough qualifying service to be eligible for a pension.

    This means that you have worked for an employer that offers membership of the Civil Service pension arrangements, and been a member for at least two years.
  • Your health must, in the opinion of the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA), permanently prevent you from being able to do your current job or any other similar role.

    Permanent means until you reach your predicted State Pension age (SPA). The SMA will take into account any planned changes to SPA when making this decision.

How do I apply for ill-health retirement?

You should speak to your employer, usually your manager or HR department.

Both you and your employer will need to complete sections of the ill-health retirement application form. The form will ask for your details and your permission for the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA) to contact your doctor and any other specialists who have been involved in your care.

Your employer will send the application to the SMA, with information about your job, and any details they hold about your health, including your sickness record.

All the records that pass between your employer, your doctors, and the SMA are treated in the strictest confidence.

Who is the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA)?

The SMA is a third party organisation that is appointed by the Scheme Manager to provide independent medical advice.

After I have completed my application, what happens next?

As part of your application you may be invited for an assessment by the SMA, or asked to provide some further details about your health.

If the medical adviser agrees that you qualify for an ill-health pension, there are two levels of ill-health retirement pension which could apply, depending on your ability to work.

Lower tier - To qualify for a lower tier pension the SMA must agree that you are permanently incapable of doing your own job, or another similar role.

Upper tier - To qualify for an upper tier pension the SMA must agree that you are permanently incapable of working in any kind of employment.

If you have already partially retired you can only qualify for a lower tier ill-health pension.

If you have already reached your NPA you will not be eligible for ill-health retirement terms.

The SMA may find that your health does not keep you from working, and may turn down your application.

Can I appeal against the SMA’s decision?

Yes, you can appeal against a decision not to grant you ill-health retirement, or a decision to only give you a lower tier pension.

There are time limits if you want to appeal, and you will need some new medical evidence to support your case.

Details of how to appeal, and the time limits you have to meet, will be supplied with your decision letter from the medical advisers, and you can ask your employer for information about the appeal process.

What happens if ill-health retirement is granted?

The SMA will send a certificate to your employer confirming that you meet the criteria for ill-health retirement, and which of the two levels you qualify for.

Your employer will then set your retirement date, including any period of notice, and inform the scheme Administrator who will give you details of your pension.

What will my pension be?

If you qualify for lower tier, your pension will be made up of:

  • the total alpha pension you have built up to date
  • any EPA portions of the pension you have built up
  • any added pension you have bought
  • any alpha pension from benefits you have transferred in from another pension scheme.

All these elements will be paid without any reduction for early payment. However, if you have bought:

  • any added pension by lump sum in the year before you retire; or
  • a transfer in to your pension that happened less than two years before you retire;

your pension may not be paid out immediately but will be preserved instead. You can claim this at a later date, or immediately if you are already over the minimum pension age. This is subject to the usual payment rules, if you claim it early, it will be reduced for early payment.

If you qualify for upper tier, your pension will be made up of:

  • all the lower tier pension

and

  • an enhancement.

The enhancement is worked out in the following way:

The alpha pension you have built up by your ill-health retirement date is divided by the number of years you were a member of the scheme. This gives us the average amount you added to your alpha pension each year.

This average amount is then multiplied by the number of years remaining from your ill-health retirement to your predicted NPA. If you are employed on a fixed-term appointment / contract, the number of years untill the end of your appointment / contract is used.

This is the enhancement you receive as part of the upper tier pension, on top of the lower tier pension.

What do I have to do to claim this payment?

Once the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) has been notified of the SMA’s decision, they will send you a quote and claim forms to complete. Your pension cannot be paid until you have returned the claim forms.

Do I get a tax-free lump sum?

Yes. Under current rules you can choose to exchange some of your pension for a tax-free lump sum, subject to limits set by HM Revenue & Customs. The maximum amount of lump sum you can take will be shown on your quote. You can choose to take any amount of lump sum up to this maximum. If you take a lump sum your pension will be reduced.

I was given a provisional pension award by the SMA. What does this mean?

The SMA was unable to decide if your health permanently met the conditions for an ill-health retirement pension, so decided you should have a provisional ill-health retirement instead.

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will then make a provisional award at the tier the SMA decided was most appropriate to your condition at the time you applied. But the SMA will need to review your case at a later date.

The SMA will set a review date that can be up to five years after the original decision.

What happens after a review of my provisional pension?

At a review, the SMA can confirm that their original decision about your condition was correct, or change it.

If the SMA recommends that your pension is reduced (dropping from a higher to lower tier) or removed, you will get three months’ notice before your payments change.

If the SMA recommends an increase to your pension, it will be backdated to the date of the review.

Can I appeal against the SMA’s decision to reduce a provisional pension?

Yes. You can appeal a decision to change a provisional award. There are time limits if you want to appeal, and you will normally need some new medical evidence to support your case.

Is my ill-health retirement pension paid for life?

A lower tier pension will be paid for the rest of your life.

An upper tier pension will be reviewed regularly by the SMA, at least every five years. The reviews stop once you reach your alpha NPA.

If your health improves and you no longer meet the conditions for an upper tier pension, it will be changed to the lower tier. You will get three months’ notice before your payments change.

Ill-health retirement after leaving

There is no ill-health retirement option for members who have left with a preserved pension.

If you want to claim a preserved pension early due to ill-health, you can as long as you are over the minimum pension age. This will be under the usual payment rules, and your pension will include an early payment reduction if it is claimed before your NPA.

If you are terminally ill with a limited life expectancy, of less than 12 months, you can access your benefits as a one-off payment at any age. You should contact the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) who will guide you through the application process.

Are there special arrangements if I am terminally ill?

If your doctors confirm, and the SMA agrees, that you have a life expectancy of less than 12 months, you can apply to exchange all of your pension benefits for a one-off lump sum. You should contact the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) who will guide you through the application process.

This is available to active members and those who have left the scheme with a preserved pension.

You must make the request before you receive any pension payments, this means if you are already retired and claiming your pension, you cannot apply to receive this one-off payment.

The payment is five times your annual pension, and if you take it you will not get any further annual pension. The pensions that can be paid to your dependants are unaffected by your choice.

The total amount of pension and lump sum that you get may be higher if you do not opt for these terms. If you are a re-employed pensioner or partially retired, the lump sum will not include any pension that you are already getting.

Ill-health retirement and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you retire on ill-health.

Ill-health retirement when you have banked service from one of the final salary schemes (classic, classic plus, or premium) or banked pension benefits from nuvos follows the same process.

I was in classic / classic plus / premium and have been granted ill-health retirement. What happens to my banked service?

Your pension is worked out at your retirement date.

Depending on what section your PCSPS benefits are in, your pensionable earnings or final pensionable earnings are used with your banked service to work out the PCSPS part of your pension.

I was in nuvos and have been granted ill-health retirement. What happens to my banked benefits?

If you have banked benefits from nuvos, your pension is worked out at your retirement date.

It includes any increases based on prices that were added to your banked benefits since you joined alpha.

How does the PCSPS part of my pension get paid?

You receive a payment equal to the classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos part of your pension with the alpha part.

Like the alpha part, it is not reduced for early payment if you are granted ill-health retirement.

The amount you get is not increased or enhanced in any way, but it will be adjusted in line with prices once it is in payment.

Under alpha regulations, classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos parts of your pension will not be paid when you retire on ill-health.

Members with PCSPS parts to their pension get a payment equal to the value of their classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos pension paid to them.

This payment is replaced automatically by their actual PCSPS pension once they reach the Normal Pension Age of that scheme usually age 60 or age 65.

Your pension will replace the payment you are receiving without you having to take any action.

You only get the lump sum option once (at the date you retire), so you will not get a second lump sum option when you reach the scheme’s Normal Pension Age.

If you have not reached the Normal Pension Age in classic, classic plus, premium, or nuvos you could still choose to transfer out
that part of your pension. But if you do, the payment you are receiving in respect of those benefits will stop, meaning the overall amount of pension that you get will reduce to just the alpha part of your benefits.

Section 05E - Payment of pensions

How do I claim my pension?

If you are an active member, claiming your pension starts by discussing it with your employer.

How do I claim my preserved pension?

If you are a deferred member and you have a preserved pension, claiming your pension starts by contacting the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP).

How much notice should I give to get my pension?

If you are retiring as an active member, you should contact your employer at least four months before the date you are thinking of retiring.

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will need around three months’ notice to put a pension into payment. This allows time for any details to be checked and for you to make your lump sum decisions.

Do I have to fill in any forms?

Yes. When you start the process to claim your pension you will get a quote showing the details of your pension and lump sum. You will also get the following forms that you need to complete and return with the relevant documentation: A personal details form, and a lump sum option form.

What information do I need to provide?

You will need to supply the following information when you claim your pension:

  • Details of any other pensions that you are claiming / receiving – this is to check against the Lifetime Allowance.
  • Confirmation of your bank or building society account – where you would like your pension and lump sum paid.
  • Confirmation that we hold your correct marital status, address, and death benefit nominee information.

  • Notarised copies of birth and marriage certificates.

When will I get my first payment?

Your pension will be paid monthly in arrears once you have retired.

Any lump sum you requested is paid into your account once all the documentation is received and your benefits have been processed.

You should not enter into any financial commitments until you have received the lump sum payment in your bank account.

Section 05F - Exchanging pension for a lump sum

In alpha you have the option to exchange part of your annual pension for a one-off lump sum.

How much lump sum do I get for my pension?

You get £12 of lump sum for every £1 of pension you give up.

What is the maximum lump sum I can get?

There are limits set by HM Revenue & Customs; this is currently a lump sum of 25% of the total value of your pension benefits.

Your maximum lump sum will be shown on any quotes you receive when you start the process of claiming your pension.

Can I exchange all of my pension for a lump sum?

Not usually. In most circumstances you will get the option to take the maximum lump sum and an ongoing pension. You can choose an amount of lump sum from nil to the maximum.

However, there are some very limited circumstances where this can be done. Where the total value of all of your pension benefits is very low, it may be possible to exchange all of your pension for a lump sum. This is called ‘trivial commutation’.

HM Revenue & Customs sets the limits that apply. You can request information on trivial commutation to check if it is an option when you claim your pension. Taking this one-off payment means you will not get any further pension payments.

If you have been diagnosed with a limited life expectancy you may be able to exchange your pension for a one-off payment. There is more information on this in Section 05D – Ill-health retirement.

Exchanging pension for a lump sum and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 your lump sum options from both parts of your pension.

My PCSPS pension was classic / classic plus. Do I still get my automatic lump sum?

Yes. If your PCSPS pension included an automatic lump sum, usually of three times the classic part of your pension, this will be paid when you claim your pension.

If your pension was classic plus, the automatic lump sum will only be based on the service you built up while you were in classic (up to 30 September 2002).

My PCSPS pension was premium / nuvos. Do I get an automatic lump sum?

No. nuvos and premium pensions do not have an automatic lump sum.

Can I exchange some of my pension for an amount or additional amount of lump sum?

Yes. You may be able to exchange your pension for an amount or additional amount of lump sum up to the limits set by HM Revenue & Customs. You will get the details of the maximum you can exchange when you claim your pension. Your pension will be lower if you select this option.

Section 05G - Re-employment after retirement

I was re-employed after retirement. What happens to my pension benefits?

For a member who has taken a partial retirement and then left and returned before taking their full retirement benefits, being re-employed after taking partial retirement does not have any effect on your alpha pension in payment.

If you are re-employed after full retirement this can affect your pension, depending on how long your break was between the periods of employment.

If you are re-employed within 28 days of the date you retired you are treated as if you did not retire. This means your pension will be cancelled, and the pension and lump sum you may have already received must be repaid.

You will become an active member again, and you will still have all the pension you have built up ready to be claimed at a later date

What about abatement?

Abatement is when your pension is reduced because your re-employed pay and your pension are more than the pay you received before claiming your pension.

No abatement is applied to the alpha pension.

Re-employment after retirement and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 the effect of re-employment after retirement on both parts of your pension.

I was re-employed or have taken a partial retirement, what happens to my pension benefits?

When you take partial retirement or are re-employed after getting your pension, any PCSPS pension that is in payment will be checked with your new earnings to see if any abatement must be applied.

What about abatement?

Abatement is when your pension is reduced because your re-employed pay and your pension are more than the pay you received before claiming your pension.

If you are re-employed, your PCSPS pension may be reduced due to abatement. Any alpha pension in payment will not be considered when assessing whether abatement applies.

Section 06 - Death benefits

General Information

This section outlines the main benefits that will be available to your dependants and other people you have nominated when you die.

It outlines the pensions and lump sum payments that can be made, and what you need to do.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This section provides a guide to some pension information you, or your family could need. It does not cover every aspect of alpha; full details are set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. We have made every effort to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk.

This section explains:

06A.Your nominees and family’s benefits when you die

An outline of the benefits available to your family and nominees after you die, how to make a nomination, and who can receive a pension.

06B. Death while you are in service

How the benefits are worked out if you die while still in service.

06C. Death with a preserved pension

How the benefits are worked out if you die after leaving with a preserved pension.

06D. Death after taking your pension

How the benefits are worked out if you die after claiming your pension.

Section 06A - Your nominees and family’s benefits when you die

If you die while you are still an active member of alpha, or when you have a preserved pension, or after you claim your alpha pension, the scheme provides benefits that are paid to your eligible dependants.

Who can receive the lump sum payment?

The lump sum payment is discretionary and although it is likely it will be paid to your nominated beneficiaries, in some circumstances, it may not be. You should ensure your nomination is kept up to date.

How do I nominate a beneficiary for the lump sum?

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

You can specify what percentage each nominee will get. You should review your nominees’ information regularly and remember to update their details whenever they move home, or if they change names through marriage / divorce etc or if your circumstances change. The Pension Portal and your Annual Benefit Statement (ABS) show your current nominee(s).

What if I do not make a nomination?

If you do not have a nominee, any lump sum that is due will be paid to your estate. This will usually be paid to your personal representative, who is the person responsible for administering your estate.

Why might my nominee not get the lump sum?

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will pay the lump sum to a valid nominee(s) on most occasions, but there are some cases where a nomination may be invalid. Examples include, if you nominated your spouse or civil partner, but you had legally separated before you died or if your nominee dies before you.

In any cases where a nomination is invalid the Scheme Administrator will usually pay it to your estate through your personal representative.

How much is the lump sum?

This depends on your circumstances and whether you are an active member, deferred member, or a pensioner. The following sections go into more detail on the amount that could be paid out.

Do my nominee(s) have to pay tax on the lump sum they get?

The lump sum can be treated differently depending on who it is paid to. If it is paid to your nominees at the discretion of the Scheme Manager, it does not form part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes.

If the lump sum is paid to your estate, it can become liable for inheritance tax, but this depends on the total value of your estate. Your personal representative, the person who deals with your estate after your death, will need to look into this at the time.

Any other tax issues?

There is one other thing to consider. Lump sums that are paid if you die use up part of your Lifetime Allowance (LTA). Your personal representative will receive an LTA certificate showing how much of the LTA the lump sum(s) paid to all of your nominees or estate has used up.

If the total of all your pension benefits (including death benefit lump sums) goes over your LTA limit, the people who receive the lump sums may have to pay a tax charge.

There is more information on the LTA in Section 07B - Death benefits and the lifetime allowance.

Who can get a dependant’s pension?

There are two types of dependant’s pension:

  • An adult dependant’s pension - this is for your spouse or civil partner, or a partner. A partner is someone you are living with in a long-term relationship, and with whom you are financially interdependent with.
  • A child’s pension - this is for any children who are your dependants.

Are all children eligible for a pension?

No, there are some criteria which have to be met.

Your relationship - If they are not your biological or legally adopted children, you will need to supply some evidence that these children were financially dependent on you. For example, this could be a guardianship order.

Their age - The child must be under age 18, or if they are in full time education or vocational training, under age 23.

If they are over age 23 and they are physically or mentally impaired, they may be eligible for a children’s pension. If their impairment means it is unlikely that they will ever be able to get a job, there is no maximum age limit.

How long are the pensions paid for?

An adult dependant’s pension will be paid for life. A child’s pension is paid until they are no longer eligible to receive one. This is usually when they are over the age of 18, or over 23 if they are in education or vocational training. If they are physically or mentally impaired and, in the opinion of the Scheme Medical Adviser (SMA), their impairment is permanent, the pension will be paid for life.

When working out an adult dependant’s pension, or a child’s pension, how much do they get?

This depends on your circumstances, for instance if you were an active member, deferred member or a pensioner. The following sections go into more detail on the amount of pension that could be paid.

Are the dependants’ pensions taxed?

Pensions are treated as earned income, so can be taxed. If you or your dependants have questions about how tax is applied you should contact HM Revenue & Customs.

What if my alpha pension contained an EPA?

If you bought an EPA portion of your alpha pension, this does not affect your dependant’s pensions. See Section 02 - Taking control of your retirement planning for more information about EPA.

What if my alpha pension contains added pension?

When you buy added pension you can choose to buy it for just you or it can include family benefits.

If the added pension you bought was for yourself only it will not be included when working out any of the death benefits for your dependants. It you bought added pension with family benefits, it will be included when working out the pensions. See Section 02 - Taking control of your retirement planning for more information about added pension.

The benefits available when you die and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 benefits are available for your family from both parts of your pension.

Death benefits

Your eligible dependents will be entitled to benefits for the alpha part of your benefits.

Your nominations

The nomination(s) you have made in the PCSPS will also apply to your alpha benefits if you have not made a new nomination since you moved into alpha. If you made a nomination while in alpha it will override your earlier nomination made while you were in the PCSPS.

Pensions for dependants

Your eligible dependants will get a pension based on your alpha pension plus any pension that would be due from your PCSPS pension too.

Section 06B - Death while you are in service

What benefits are available?

If you die while you are still an active member of alpha, two benefits can be paid; a lump sum paid to the people you have nominated and pensions for your eligible dependants.

Who can receive the lump sum payment?

The Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) will normally pay it to the person, people, or organisation(s) that you have nominated, but it is paid at the discretion of the Scheme Manager.

How much is the lump sum?

The lump sum amount is worked out in two ways; and the higher of these two amounts is paid to your nominees.

  • Two times your final pay, less any lump sum payments due (or already paid) from the Civil Service Pension arrangements.
  • Five times the pension you have built up, less any pension payments already made from the Civil Service Pension arrangements.

What final pay do you use when you work out the lump sum?

The final pay is usually the pensionable pay you got over the last 12 months ending with your last day of pensionable service, but it can be the pensionable earnings from any of the last 10 full scheme years if this is higher. Pay that is taken from earlier years is adjusted in line with prices.

Who can get a dependant’s pension?

There are two types of dependant’s pension.

  • An adult dependant’s pension.
  • A child’s pension.

When working out a dependant’s pension, how much do they get?

They receive a percentage of your pension worked out at your date of death. If you die in service as an active member, your pension gets enhanced as outlined below, before the dependants’ pensions are worked out. If you die after taking partial retirement, then your dependant’s pensions will not include this enhancement.

How is the enhancement worked out?

This is worked out using your total earned alpha pension.

Your earned alpha pension is the pension that comes from your pensionable earnings each year, not from a transferred in pension or any added pension you have bought.

This pension amount is multiplied by 10, or the number of years that were left until you would have reached NPA if this is lower (or if you are on a fixed term contract, the end of that contract if earlier). This is then divided by the number of years you were an active member of alpha.

The result is the enhancement that will be added to your alpha pension before working out your dependants’ benefits.

How much is an adult dependant’s pension?

The pension that your dependant will receive is 37.5% of the increased pension.

If you were buying added pension with benefits for your dependants, they will also receive 37.5% of the added pension that you would have received.

Are there any reasons why the adult dependant’s pension would not be this much?

If your spouse, civil partner, or partner is more than 12 years younger than you, the pension they receive will be reduced.

How much is a child’s pension?

There are a few things that can change the amount that gets paid as a pension. These include the number of children who will be receiving a pension, and whether or not there is an adult dependant’s pension to be paid.

How much is a child’s pension:

  • if there is an adult dependant’s pension?

When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 30% of your pension.

If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 60% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.

  • if there is no adult dependant’s pension?

When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 50% of your pension.

If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 100% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.

Death while you are in service and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you die in service.

Death benefits

Your eligible dependants will be entitled to benefits for the alpha part of your benefits.

Dependants’ pensions

Your eligible dependants will get a pension based on your alpha pension plus any pension that would be due from your PCSPS pension too.

Death in service lump sum

For members with banked service in classic or banked benefits in nuvos, the lump sum is worked out in the normal way. But for members with banked service in classic plus or premium, the death in service lump sum is worked out in a slightly different way.

The higher of the following two calculations determines the amount that is paid to your nominees.

  • A multiple of your final pay, less any lump sum payments due, or already paid, from the Civil Service Pension arrangements.
  • Five times the pension you have built up, less any payments already made from the Civil Service Pension arrangements.

For members with banked classic plus and premium service, the multiple used in the first calculation depends on the date you die. This starts as three times your pay on 01 April 2015, and then it is reduced by 0.1 each year. So on 01 April 2016 it is 2.9, 01 April 2017 it is 2.8 and so on. This continues to reduce until 01 April 2025 when the multiple reaches and stays as two.

Section 06C - Death with a preserved pension

What benefits are available?

There are two benefits that may be available if you have a preserved award: A lump sum, usually paid to your nominee(s) and pensions for your eligible dependants.

Who can get the lump sum payment?

The payment will normally be made to the person, people, or organisation, you have nominated, but it is paid at the discretion of the Scheme Manager.

How much is the lump sum?

The total lump sum will be five times your annual pension at your date of death, taking into account any adjustments based on prices.

Who can get a dependant’s pension?

There are two types of dependant’s pension:

  • An adult dependant’s pension.
  • A child’s pension.

How much is an adult dependants’ pension?

The pension that your dependant will get is equal to 37.5% of the pension that you would have received. If you were buying added pension that included benefits for your dependants, they will also get 37.5% of the added pension you would have received. If the added pension you bought was for yourself only it will not be included when working out any of the death benefits for your dependants.

Are there any reasons why the adult dependant’s pension would not be this much?

If your spouse, civil partner, or partner is more than 12 years younger than you, the pension they get will be reduced.

How much is a child’s pension?

There are a few things that can change the amount that gets paid as a pension. These include the number of children who will be receiving a pension, and whether or not there is an adult dependant’s pension to be paid.

How much is a child’s pension:

  • if there is an adult dependant’s pension?

    When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 30% of your pension. If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 60% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.
  • if there is no adult dependant’s pension?

    When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 50% of your pension. If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 100% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.

Death with a preserved pension and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you die with a preserved pension.

Death benefits

Your eligible dependants will be entitled to benefits from both your preserved alpha and preserved PCSPS benefits.

Is there a PCSPS lump sum?

Yes. A lump sum may be payable from the PCSPS part of your pension, worked out using the rules for that scheme.

Pensions and lump sums you have already received will affect the amount of lump sum that can be paid.

Is there a PCSPS pension for my dependants?

Yes. Your eligible dependants will get the pensions from the PCSPS part of your pension, worked out using the rules for that scheme.

Section 06D - Death after taking your pension

What benefits are available?

There are two benefits that may be available when you die after taking your pension, a lump sum, usually paid to your nominee(s), and pensions for your eligible dependants.

How long after I take my pension can a lump sum be paid?

The lump sum is only available if you die within five years of starting to receive your pension.

Who can get the lump sum payment?

The payment will normally be made to the person, people, or organisation, you have nominated but it is paid at the discretion of the Scheme Manager.

How much is the lump sum?

The total lump sum will be five times your annual pension including any adjustments based on prices, minus any pension and lump sum you already received before you died. This means the amount payable may be nil.

Who can get a dependant’s pension?

There are two types of dependant’s pension:

  • An adult dependant’s pension.
  • A child’s pension.

How long after I take my pension can a pension be paid to my dependants?

As long as your dependants are eligible, they will receive a pension.

How much is an adult dependants’ pension?

The pension that your dependant will get is equal to 37.5% of the pension that you were in receipt of.

If you bought added pension with benefits for your dependants, they will also get 37.5% of the added pension that you were in receipt of.

If you took ill-health retirement and received an upper tier pension that included an increased alpha pension, your dependants pensions will be worked out using the increased pension you were being paid.

If you commuted “gave up” some of your pension for Lump Sum at retirement, your dependants’ pension will be based on the pension before commutation.

Are there any reasons why the adult dependant's pension would not be this much?

If your spouse, civil partner, or partner is more than 12 years younger than you, the pension they get will be reduced.

How much is a child’s pension?

There are a few things that can change the amount that gets paid as a pension. These include the number of children who will be receiving a pension, and whether or not there is an adult dependant’s pension to be paid.

How much is a child’s pension:

  • if there is an adult dependant’s pension?

    When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 30% of your pension. If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 60% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.
  • if there is no adult dependant’s pension?

    When there are one or two children, each child will get a pension equal to 50% of your pension. If there are more than two children, the total of their pensions will be equal to 100% of your pension, with each of the eligible children receiving an equal share.

Death after taking your pension and the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS)

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 parts of your pension if you die with a pension in payment.

Death benefits

Your eligible dependants will be entitled to benefits from both your preserved alpha and preserved PCSPS benefits.

Is there a PCSPS lump sum?

Yes. A lump sum can be payable from the PCSPS part of your pension, worked out using the rules for that scheme. This is worked out if you die within five years of taking your pension.

Pensions and lump sums you have already received will affect the amount of lump sum that can be paid.

Is there a PCSPS pension for my dependants?

Yes. There is no time limit like the lump sum payments. Your eligible dependants will get the pensions from the PCSPS part of your pension, worked out using the rules for that scheme.

Section 07 - Other important information

General Information

This section outlines some important things you need to know about your pension.

It includes a brief overview of the main tax rules that apply to pensions and explains how you might be affected by them. The tax rules are set by HM Revenue & Customs, and more information can be found on their website.

You will also find some guidance on what you can do if you encounter a problem and want to complain, and details of where you can go for advice and information.

This guide uses as little jargon as possible but where it has to use specific technical terms, they have been explained in plain English.

This section provides a guide to some other pension information you could need. But it does not cover every aspect of alpha; full details will be set out in the regulations, which are the legal basis of the scheme.

Nothing in this guide can override the alpha regulations. We have made every effort to make this guide as accurate as possible, but in the event of any difference, the regulations will apply. This guide is based on the alpha regulations current at the time of publication and there is no guarantee that any part of the regulations will not change in the future.

You should not take anything in this section as financial advice. You might want to consider contacting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to discuss your retirement planning. You can find tips on finding an IFA by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website: www.fca.org.uk

This section explains:

07A. Your pension and tax

Important rules to consider from HM Revenue & Customs.

07B. Death benefits and the Lifetime Allowance

How the lump sums paid to your nominees are assessed.

07C. State Pension ages (SPA)

How the SPA affects when, and how, you can claim your alpha pension.

07D. What to do if you have a complaint about your pension

The process you need to follow when something goes wrong.

07E. Important contact information

Contact details, addresses and websites you may need, and places to go for more information.

Section 07A - Your pension and tax

Do I get tax relief on my pension contributions?

Yes. You can get tax relief on your pension contributions. Your employer takes your contributions from your pay before working out the tax, so you will automatically receive full income tax relief. This is subject to HM Revenue & Customs limits. HM Revenue & Customs can ask you to pay back any tax relief you get above the relevant limits.

Is my pension taxed when it is paid?

When your pension is paid, it will be taxed as income in the same way as a salary.

HM Revenue & Customs will give you a tax code that the scheme administrator will apply to your pension so that you are paying the correct level of tax.

Is my pension lump sum taxed when it is paid?

If you have chosen to take a lump sum in exchange for some of your pension, this payment is currently tax-free.

What is the Annual Allowance?

The Annual Allowance is set by HM Revenue & Customs and any changes to the Annual Allowance are made by HM Revenue & Customs. Annual Allowance is the maximum value of the growth in your pension savings each year that can benefit from tax relief.

If the growth in your pension savings over the tax year are more than the Annual Allowance, you might have to pay a tax charge based on the amount of the Annual Allowance.

You can request a pension savings statement from the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) to check your pension against the Annual Allowance.

What is the Lifetime Allowance?

The Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is the limit on the amount of pension benefit(s) that you can take from all of your registered pension arrangements before you incur a tax charge.

These benefits include:

  • lump sums; and
  • retirement income.

You can find more information on the Lifetime Allowance on either the HM Revenue & Customs or GOV.uk website.

Section 07B - Death Benefits and the Lifetime Allowance (LTA)

Do death benefit lump sums count as part of the Lifetime Allowance?

In most cases, yes. As well as any pension the member may have already been paid, the lump sum payments made from their pension as a result of their death also count as using part of their LTA.

A lump sum may be paid when an active member, a member with a preserved pension or a pensioner dies.

HM Revenue & Customs set the rules around the LTA.

Do pensions for dependants count towards the Lifetime Allowance?

No. Pensions that are paid to dependants following the death of a member do not count towards the LTA of either the deceased member or the person getting the pension.

Who has to check to see if the member has used up all of the Lifetime Allowance?

The member’s personal representative (the person who is responsible for administering the estate of the deceased) is responsible for checking the LTA tax position and informing HM Revenue & Customs.

But any LTA charges must be paid by the person who receives the lump sum. The charges will be collected from them by HM Revenue & Customs. There is more information on the GOV.uk website, and available from HM Revenue & Customs.

Section 07C - State Pension ages

What is State Pension age (SPA)?

This is the age from which you can claim your State Pension benefits.

What is my State Pension age?

This is set by the Government, and is usually linked to your date of birth and gender. You can find out more about State Pension ages by checking the GOV.uk website.

Why is my State Pension age important for my alpha pension?

In alpha your Normal Pension Age (NPA) is linked to your SPA.

Your NPA is the later of age 65 and your SPA. This means for most members their SPA and alpha NPA will be the same.

What if my State Pension age changes?

For most members your alpha NPA is the same as your SPA. Your SPA could change in the future and as the two are linked, if your SPA changes, your alpha NPA will change too. If your SPA is lower than age 65 your alpha NPA will remain as age 65.

Section 07D - What to do if you have a complaint about your pension

How do I make a complaint?

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.

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
LONDON
SW1V 1RB

For further information see their website: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Can I appeal against the IDR decision?

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:
www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk

You can write to the Pensions Ombudsman at:

10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Can I complain about my partnership account provider?

Yes. You should contact the provider in the first instance, to see if you can sort out any complaint through their internal complaints procedures.

If you are unable to find a resolution this way, you may make a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Section 07E - Important contact information

This section provides contact details for some organisations that you might need during your time as a scheme member.

Who do I contact about my pension?

You should contact the scheme administrator (MyCSP) at:

Civil Service Pensions
PO Box 2017
Liverpool
L69 2BU

Telephone: 0300 123 6666
Overseas telephone number: +44 1903 835902
Email address: contactcentre@mycsp.co.uk Or: contactcentre@mycsp.gse.gov.uk

Who do I contact about my partnership pension or my CSAVCS?

Contact details for the providers are shown below. Further information is available on their websites:

Legal & General - www.legalandgeneral.com/csp
Equitable LIfe - www.equitable.co.uk/

Who do I contact for financial advice?

Your employer and the Scheme Administrator (MyCSP) cannot advise you on what you should and should not do with your pension.

If you wish to seek financial advice you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) who is registered to advise you on what are the best options for you.

Visit the Financial Conduct Authority website for some tips on how to find an IFA in your area: www.fca.org.uk/consumers/finding-adviser

Who do I contact for details about my State Pension?

Your State Pension is provided by the Government, and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.

There is more information about the State Pension on the GOV.uk website: www.gov.uk

Who do I contact about my partnership pension or my CSAVCS, including any complaint I may have?

After going through the providers’ internal complaints procedure you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Pensions Ombudsman
10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Telephone: 0800 917 4487
Email: enquiries@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk
Website: www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/

Who do I contact if I cannot find any information about a previous pension?

The Pension Tracing Service provides free help in locating pension providers: www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension

Telephone: 0800 731 0193

Who can I contact for general advice or help?

The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) was set up to offer guidance on all types of pensions: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

The Pensions Advisory Service
10 Belgrave Road
London
SW1V 1RB

Telephone: 0800 011 3797

Where can I get more information?

There are several websites you can visit for more information about the Civil Service pension arrangements and pensions in general.

The Civil Service Pensions website: www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk

HM Revenue & Customs, for tax information: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs

GOV.uk for information on State benefits and other Government services: www.gov.uk