One of the few good things about getting older is that your pension pot gets bigger every year. So, if you’re ever feeling depressed about having the odd grey hair, take a quick look at your annual benefits statement and you might find it puts a smile on your face.
What is your Annual Benefits Statement?
It’s a summary of all your pension benefits for the year. As well as showing you the benefits accrued over the course of your membership, it provides an estimated forecast of the benefits you can expect when you retire.
Take a look at an example statement here.
Where can I view my latest statement?
Your benefits statement is updated every year and is available to view at My Pension Online. If you haven’t set up an account yet, just follow the on-screen instructions to register.
Remember, most of the figures on your statement are estimates. So, before you make any rash decisions about retirement, be sure to call the LPPA helpdesk on 0300 323 0260.
How can I update my pension details?
You can update your personal details on the self-service section of My Pension Online. It only takes a few minutes and you can alter everything from your name, address and contact details to your marital status and beneficiaries.
Important update, following the McCloud judgement
on the 20 December 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that the 2015 reforms to the Firefighters’ and Judges’ pension scheme were discriminatory. The Government accepted that this ruling applied to all public service pension schemes. As such, it is working on removing this discrimination to all affected scheme members. Realistically, this will only impact your pension in a positive way and any changes will be handled automatically. Latest information here.
Making sense of the details
Your questions answered.
Although we try to make your benefits statement simple, straightforward and easy to understand, it’s only natural that you will have one or two questions. If you’re looking for answers, you’re in the right place.
When do I qualify for scheme benefits?
You need to have been a member of your pension scheme for at least 2 years (or a minimum of three months for Fire Service pension schemes), before you qualify for benefits (unless you have transferred from another scheme).
When can I retire?
All the projections on your benefits statement are based on you making contributions up until your Normal Pension Age (NPA).
For members of an LGPS scheme (only), this is linked to State Pension Age (SPA), which for most people is at least 65 (but the good news is you don’t have to wait that long. If you want to retire early, you can start taking your pension from the age of 55. Just be aware that your benefits (including any lump sum) will be reduced based on your age at the time.)
For more information visit My Pension Online. And remember, the figures on your benefit statement do not take into account any changes around State Pension Age, which are subject to change (see Gov.uk.)
What is a CARE pension?
A CARE pension (Career Average Revalued Earnings pension) is a new type of pension scheme that was set up in 2014 (2015 for Police schemes). It allocates a percentage of your annual salary to your pension fund each year and works out your retirement income based on the sum total of these contributions.
For a more detailed breakdown, visit My Pension Online.
What happens if I have multiple jobs?
If you have more than one job within your organisation, you will receive a separate benefits statement for each of your roles. Likewise, if you have a second pension with a different employer, you should receive a separate benefits statement.
What is a deferred pension?
If you have stopped paying into your scheme, but not yet taken your pension, you have what’s known as a deferred pension. This means that your scheme is put on hold until you’re ready to retire.
With a deferred pension, you will continue to receive an annual statement and a forecast of your benefits (for those enrolled in an LGPS schemes, if you start another membership at any point in the future, you will then receive a separate benefits statement. So, when you retire, you will effectively have two separate pension funds).
Can I pay more to increase my benefits?
The simple answer is yes. But if you want to top up your pension fund there are different ways of doing it, which will depend on the scheme of which you are a member.
The best solution will depend on your personal priorities. So, before making any decisions, it’s always worth speaking to an independent financial adviser or pensions adviser.
Are my additional contributions included in my annual benefits statement?
If you are paying additional contributions into your pension, these are automatically included in your annual benefits statement. Unfortunately, the values aren’t listed separately, so you won’t be able to see the difference they are making to your projected benefits.
What happens to my pension benefits if I stop being a member?
Don’t worry, if you leave your pension scheme, you won’t lose out on your pension. It’s usually just a case of deciding whether you defer the benefits until your retirement or transfer them to a different scheme. When you leave, you’ll receive a letter which tells you the value of your fund and explains your options.
Does it affect my pension if I take unpaid leave?
Ultimately, this depends on why you are absent. If it is due to sickness, injury or standard child-related leave (maternity, paternity etc.), you may be entitled to Assumed Pensionable Pay (APP). This means your pension will continue to build up in your absence, based on your average pay in the three months prior to your leave.
If you take unpaid leave for any other reasons (for example, additional unpaid maternity), you may not be able to accrue any pension during your time off. In this case, it’s always worth speaking with your employer, who will be able to confirm how much you would lose and whether there’s an option to buy your lost pension back.
What happens to my pension if I die?
If you die as an active member of the scheme, a ‘survivor pension’ is payable to any eligible family members, such as a husband, wife or partner or child. We also pay a ‘death grant’, which is a tax-free lump sum that is worked out as a multiple of your salary.
If I marry after retirement, will my partner be entitled to the same benefits?
If a marriage or civil partnership occurs after retirement, the ‘survivor benefits’ are sometimes restricted by the period of membership:
Will my annual benefits statement include details of my annual allowance?
No. If you have exceeded your annual allowance for pension tax-relief, you will receive a separate letter from us explaining what to do next.
You can find more details about your annual allowance on My Pension Online.