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COVID-19 guidance on support for retired members

DHSC has extended temporary suspensions to 31 October 2022

Following a consultation from the Department of Health and Social Care, the temporary suspension of the 16-hour rule, abatement for special class status holders and draw down abatement has been extended to 31 October 2022.

The UK government published their coronavirus action plan on 3 March 2020. This plan set out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This included increasing the available health and social care workforce. This removed barriers and allowed recently retired NHS staff and social care workers to return to work and tackle the outbreak.

From 25 March 2020, the UK government’s emergency legislation suspended some regulations to allow retired NHS members to return to work.

It also allows retired members who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if needed, without affecting their pension benefits.

The measures include temporary suspension of:

  • the 16-hour rule in the 1995 Section
  • abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section who retire and return to work between age 55 to 60
  • draw down abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme

Information for current pensioners and those planning to retire (PDF: 145KB)

Temporary suspension of the 16-hour rule

This temporarily removes the rule that prevents members of the 1995 Section of the NHS Pension Scheme who return to work after retirement from working more than 16 hours per week in the first calendar month after retirement.

Suspension of this rule also allows members to return immediately to work after taking a minimum 24-hour retirement and continue their existing working commitments, or increase them, whilst they are in receipt of their full pension benefits.

Temporary suspension of abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section

This temporarily removes a barrier which stops special class nurses and mental health officers aged 55 to 60 years old, who have claimed their pension benefits, from returning to work without having their pension suspended

The abatement rules also apply to people who have retired on:

  • ill health grounds
  • in the interests of the efficiency of the service (IES)

They also apply to a limited number of people who have retired on redundancy grounds.

These measures do not suspend the abatement rules that apply to these groups.

Temporary suspension of abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme

This is where a person has elected to ‘draw down’ a portion of their benefits and subsequently wishes to increase their earnings or commitment to the NHS so that they are in excess of 90% of the level before draw down was taken.

These measures do not suspend the abatement rules that apply to members who have retired on ill health grounds or in the interests of efficiency of the service (IES), alongside a limited number of members who have retired on redundancy grounds. 

The end of temporary suspensions

On 15 February 2022, DHSC announced a consultation on proposals to extend the temporary retire and return easements via temporary amendments to NHS Pension Scheme regulations. This proposal would take effect from 25 March 2022 to ensure the continued suspension of NHS Pension Scheme regulations following the expiry of section 45 on 24 March 2022. We have now been informed by the Department of Health and Social Care that suspension of the regulations will continue until 31 October 2022.

This is when the 16-hour rule in the 1995 Section, abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Section and draw down abatement in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme will come back into force.

You can read more about the consultation in our news section.

What we’re doing to support you

In November 2021 we contacted all pensioner members who have:

  • Retired and returned to work
  • Chosen to draw down part of their benefits

This was to tell them that the temporary suspensions will be ending and we’ll return to normal arrangements from 25 March 2022. We have since written to the same pensioner members to inform them of the proposed changes to allow easements to continue to 31 October 2022.

We will write to affected members again over summer, and we will provide their earnings margin ready for 1 November 2022.

You can read the full consultation outcome on Department of Health and Social Care’s website here.