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Joining the Scheme

You may be eligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme if you are aged between 16 and 75.  This also applies to GPs, General Dental Practitioners or Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners who work under a contract for services.

If you are eligible, when you start work, you will automatically become a member of the Scheme. Pension contributions will be deducted from your salary (or income) and these will be shown on your payslip. Your employer will email you a copy of the Member Guide to help you understand the rules of the Scheme.

When you join the Scheme you are given a membership number (also known as SD number). Please make a note of this and have it to hand in case you need to contact us.

Watch our video to understand the benefits being in the Scheme.

Rejoining the Scheme

Important: The 1995 Section closed to new entrants with effect from 1 April 2008. The 2008 Section closed to new entrants with effect from 1 April 2015.

If you are in NHS employment you may rejoin the Scheme if you meet the eligibility conditions. You may not rejoin if you are absent from work for any reason.

If you have returned to NHS employment and are taking your NHS pension you may rejoin the Scheme if:

  • you are taking a 1995 Section ill health pension and are under age 50
  • you are taking a 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme pension and are under age 75.

1995 Section

If you leave pensionable employment and are entitled to deferred benefits you can only return to the 1995 Section if you meet all the following criteria:

  • you return before age 60
  • you have not transferred the value of your NHS Pension to another pension arrangement
  • the break is less than five years
  • you are fully ‘Protected’ or still within your ‘Tapered Protection’ period (please read the Scheme Protection information in the Membership of the NHS Pension Scheme section of the website).

If you don’t meet these criteria you will only be eligible to join the 2015 Scheme.

2008 Section

If you leave pensionable employment or if you have taken benefits from the Scheme you can only return to the 2008 Section if you satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • you return before age 75
  • you have not transferred the value of your NHS Pension to another pension arrangement or received a refund of your contributions
  • the break is less than five years
  • you are fully ‘Protected’ or still within your ‘Tapered Protection’ period (please read the Scheme Protection information in the Membership of the NHS Pension Scheme section of the website).

If you do not meet these criteria you will only be eligible to join the 2015 Scheme providing you are under age 75.

2015 Scheme

If you leave pensionable employment or have taken pension benefits from this Scheme you can rejoin this Scheme up to age 75.

Rejoining the Scheme following a break of five years or more

If you return to pensionable NHS employment after a break of five years or more you will join a different section or scheme from your earlier period of membership.

You have a one off opportunity to transfer deferred benefits from your earlier period of membership into your latest section or scheme on a cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) basis.

We will contact you if this applies. You can then request a personalised comparison pack so that you can decide whether to transfer your deferred benefits by completing the comparison pack request form (FYR2) (PDF: 154KB) and returning it to NHS Pensions within three months of the date we let you know about the options available to you.

We will not accept any request for a comparison pack returned after the three month deadline.