Protection arrangements – frequently asked questions
Q1. What is Protection?
A. ‘Protection’ is the arrangement whereby certain members will remain in their current section of the NHS Pension Scheme beyond 31 March 2015 (see Q7 and Q8).
Q2. Who do the Protection arrangements apply to?
A. Members of the 1995 and 2008 Sections who, as at 1 April 2012, were either already over their normal pension age (see Q5 and Q6) or 10 years or less from their normal pension age and in active membership on both 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2015 are entitled to Full Protection.
Members of both the 1995 and 2008 Sections who, as at 1 April 2012, were more than 10 years, but less than 13 years and 5 months from their normal pension age and in active membership on both 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2015 are eligible for limited Protection. We call this Tapered Protection.
Q3. What if I meet the age requirements but was not in active membership on both 31 March 2012 and 31 March 2015?
A. You will still be eligible for Protection provided you have membership of the 1995/ 2008 Sections prior to 1 April 2012 and either:
- return to membership of the appropriate section before 31 March 2015 without a break of 5 or more years and have not transferred your previous pension rights to another pension scheme and be in active membership on 31 March 2015; or
- return to membership of the appropriate section on or after 1 April 2015 without a break of 5 or more years and have not transferred your previous pension rights to another pension scheme.
Q4. What if I joined the NHS Pensions Scheme between 1 April and 31 March 2015?
A. If you joined the NHS Pension Scheme between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2015 then you will only qualify for either Full Protection or Tapered Protection if you were:
- not more than 13 years and 5 months away from age 65 as at 1 April 2012; and
- were previously an active member of a qualifying public sector scheme in which you would have qualified for Protection had you remained in that scheme.
If you don’t meet both of these criteria you will join the 2015 Scheme on 1 April 2015.
Q5. What is the normal pension age (NPA) in the 1995 section?
A. The NPA in the 1995 Section is age 60 for the vast majority of members. There are some exceptions. Members with special class or mental health officer status, who satisfy certain criteria, may have a normal pension age earlier than 60. You can find out more about the normal pension age for members with special class or mental health officer status in the factsheets ‘Special Class Status’ and ‘Mental Health Officers’. You can also read about how the Protection arrangements may apply to members with special class or mental health officer status (including those not in active Scheme membership on 1 April 2012) by clicking here.
Q6. What is the normal pension age (NPA) in the 2008 Section?
A. Age 65 for everyone.
Q7. What is Full Protection?
A. Full Protection is not being compelled to move to the 2015 Scheme at any point and instead continuing to remain in your existing section of the 1995/2008 Scheme.
Q8. How is Tapered Protection different to Full Protection?
A. Tapered Protection means you will join the 2015 Scheme but from a date later than 1 April 2015, determined by your age in years and months as at 1 April 2012.
Q9. How is the tapered Protection period calculated?
A. Tapered Protection is based on how many months beyond 10 years you were away from your normal pension age (NPA) as at 1 April 2012. For each month beyond 10 years, the tapered protection end date of 31 March 2022 is reduced by two months. For example a member who was 18 months beyond 10 years away from their NPA as at 1 April 2012, would have the tapered protection end date of 31 March 2022 reduced by 36 months (18 months x 2). Tapered protection for this member would end on 31 March 2019 and they would move to the 2015 Scheme on 1 April 2019.
A calculator that tells you the date you will join the new 2015 Scheme is available at the link below.
Tapered Protection Calculator (It may take a few seconds to open, if the calculator does not appear on your screen please use the alt + shift buttons to select the Excel option)
Q10. Can Protection status be lost?
A. Yes you will lose Protection if you leave NHS employment or the Scheme before or on or after 2 April 2012 and do not rejoin within five years.
Q11. Can I opt out of Protection?
A. Members of the 1995 Section entitled to Full Protection cannot opt out of it. Members of the 2008 Section eligible for Protection are currently being given a one off option, known as ‘Option to Give Up Protection’, to opt out of the Protection arrangements and transfer to the 2015 Scheme. This is because it is possible that, if these members do not receive pay increases before retirement, the higher build up rate in the 2015 Scheme could deliver a bigger pension than the 2008 Section.
Q12. When will members of the 2008 Section have to decide whether to opt out of the Protection arrangements?
A. The Option to Give Up Protection exercis is currently underway. NHS Pensions has written to all eligible members. Please go to the dedicated webpage for more information.
Click here to see a table summarising existing Scheme members’ position from 1 April 2015.