Opting out of your Civil Service pension
It’s easy to think of your pension as something you’ll claim in many years’ time, but it’s worth keeping in mind the benefits of a Civil Service pension, and the options it gives you, when you’re planning your retirement.
Think about what you are giving up and the benefits of your Civil Service pension
If you’re thinking of opting out of your Civil Service pension, remember that if you do, you’ll miss out on a range of valuable benefits for you and your family. Not only is your pension an important part of your total reward package (your employer pays a significant pension contribution on your behalf) it also gives you peace of mind to know that you’ve started planning for your retirement.
Benefits of a Civil Service pension
Benefits to which you and your family may be entitled:
- Pension payable for life, fully guaranteed by the government
- A tax-free lump sum cash option upon retirement
- Generous employer contribution - you don't benefit if you're not a member
- Tax relief on contributions
- Protection for you – an ill health pension should you become too unwell to work
- Protection for your loved ones – should you die your loved ones could receive:
- A death in service lump sum (if you die in service)
- A spouse/partner/civil partner’s pension
- A children's pension
Please think very carefully before making your decision. We strongly recommend that you seek independent financial advice if you are unsure of how opting out may impact you financially.
Browse the Publications Library for a more detailed look at the benefits of a Civil Service pension.
There are some common reasons why members consider opting out of their pension scheme. Have a read to see if this applies to you.
You can find more information on opting out of the pension scheme in the frequently asked questions.
Partnership pension account
If you still don't want to be a member of the Civil Service pension scheme, have you considered opening a partnership pension account instead of opting out?
If you are an existing member of classic, classic plus, premium, nuvos or alpha, you can choose to switch to a partnership pension account. The partnership pension account is a Defined Contribution (DC) scheme, where any contributions made are invested to provide a pot of money to fund your retirement. In partnership, you decide how much you contribute, you don’t actually have to make any contributions yourself and your employer will still contribute. If you do decide to contribute your employer will also match your contribution up to an additional 3%.
To switch to the partnership pension account, you must complete a Pension Switching form and return it to your employer at least two months before the date you want to switch.
You don’t need to complete an opt out form if you want to switch.
Opt out of the pension scheme
If after reading all the information and taking any necessary advice you still wish to opt out of the Civil Service pension arrangements, complete the Opt Out form and sign the declaration to confirm that you understand the benefits you would be choosing to give up and return the form to your employer.
Your decision to opt out of the pension scheme benefits will take effect shortly after your employer receives your form.
For information on timescales, please see the What to expect when leaving before Normal Pension Age guide.
The Civil Service pension arrangements are covered by automatic enrolment. This means if you opt out, your employer will have to automatically put you back into a pension scheme every three years.
If you change employers (or your contract changes) it’s likely that you will be automatically re-enrolled into the pension scheme. If you are re-enrolled and do not want to stay in the scheme, you will need to complete another Opt Out form.
For more information about automatic enrolment, please read our frequently asked questions or speak to your employer.
You may be able to rejoin the Civil Service pension scheme a later date. Your employer will help you with this.
Your employer cannot ask you or force you to opt out of the pension scheme. If they do, please contact The Pensions Regulator (opens in a new window).
From April 2016 the State Pension changed, and contracting out ended. This means you will pay the same level of National Insurance (NI) contributions whether or not you are a member of the pension scheme.