What does having Special Class Status mean for your NHS Pension benefits?
Special Class status was awarded to some members of the 1995 Section of the NHS Pension Scheme (not the 2008 or 2015 Schemes) who worked as a nurse, physiotherapist, midwife or health visitor. To qualify you had to have been awarded Special Class Status on or before 6th March 1995 and at no time since have had a break in pensionable employment of 5 years or more. You must also have maintained your Special Class Status when you are retiring and have had this status for the 5 years leading up to retirement.
The Benefits Of Having Special Class Status
If you are a female member of the 1995 Section and have Special Class Status then your can retire from age 55 onwards without having our pension benefits reduced.
If you are a male member of the 1995 Section and have Special Class Status then you can retire from age 55 onwards without having a proportion of your benefits reduced. The applicable proportion of your membership that is paid without reduction at age 55 is any membership that your earned on or after 17th May 1990. Any membership before that date will be reduced if paid before age 60.
Age and Service Restrictions For Members With Special Class Status
A members with Special Class Status is restricted to 40 years pensionable membership at age 55 and 45 years overall.
When the maximum of 45 years membership has been reached before the age of 60, then a member must still continue to make contributions to the NHS Pension Scheme unless they opt out, defer their benefits or take their benefits. Between the ages of 60 and 65 if the maximum 45 years has been reached then the member must cease contributions. At age 65 the member has to stop their contributions regardless of how much membership they have built up.
New 2015 NHS Pension Scheme Protection Arrangements For Special Class Status Members
Special Class members of the 1995 Section will have a Normal Pension Age of earlier than 60 if they meet certain qualifying conditions. In order to assess whether the member has Special Class Status for Protection purposes only they will have an Normal Pension Age of 55 regardless of the normal retirement rules for these members.
You will qualify for a lower Normal Pension Age of 55 for the purposes of Protection if, as at 1st April 2012, you meet all of the following conditions:
- You have been in Special Class status since before 6th March 1995
- You have not had a break in pensionable employment for any one period of 5 years or more after 6th March 1995
- You were in a a Special Class post on 1st April 2012
- You have the potential to have been in a Special Class post for 5 years before reaching age 60
Therefore, as long as you qualify for a Normal Pension Age of 55, then as long as you were aged 45 and over as at 1st April 2012 then you would be less than 10 years away from age 55 as at 1st April 2012 and qualify for full Protection and remain a member of the 1995 Section and will not move to the 2015 Scheme.
If you have Special Class status (or think you have) then please get in touch on richard.higgs@wealthwestmedical or telephone 0117 966 5699 for an assessment of your retirement plans.