In order to accrue NHS Pension Scheme benefits you need to be eligible to join in the first place. Here is a useful reminder of some of the rules surrounding NHS Pension Scheme eligibility.
You are eligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme if you are an NHS worker and are aged between 16-75 and are either:
- directly employed by the NHS
- a medical trainee
- general medical practice staff
- staff working for certain approved employers
- non-General Practice providers
- freelance locum medical practitioners
There are currently two sections of the NHS Pension Scheme and there are different rules for each: The 1995 Section and the 2008 Section.
The 1995 Section
Although the 1995 Section is closed now for new members, those who were active members on 1st April 2008 will still probably be members of this section.
In some certain circumstances a doctor that has previously left the NHS with a deferred NHS Pension Scheme benefit, can rejoin the 1995 Section even after 1st April 2008. For instance:
- As long as the deferred member re-joins the NHS within 5 years of leaving they can remain in the 1995 Section
- Members who previously left the NHS and transferred their benefits out can re-join the 1995 Section as long as they return within 5 years
You would not be eligible to rejoin the 1995 section if:
- You were over age 70 at 1st April 2008
- Returned after 1st April 2008 after having received a refund of NHS Pension Scheme contributions
- You left scheme after 1st April 2008 and transferred out your NHS Pension Scheme benefits
- You have 'Special Class' Status and are over 65
The 2008 Section
All new NHS workers from 1st April 2008 are eligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme 2008 section. The 2008 Section is also open to:
- All NHS workers who have never been a member of the NHS Pension Scheme
- Eligible deferred members who opt to re-join the 2008 Section
- Deferred members who left the 1995 Section more than 5 years ago can join the 2008 Section
- Previous members of the 1995 Section who have transferred out their 1995 Section benefits
You cannot join either section of the NHS Pension Scheme if you are 75 years of age of over.
Membership of the NHS Pension Scheme is voluntary - but if you are eligible you will be automatically made a member (except freeland locum medical practitioners). You can opt--out of the NHS Pension Scheme at any time if you so wish.