care about your future

When you retire you will receive a pension based on your earnings throughout your career while you were paying into the scheme.

Each year you will earn a pension equal to 1/54 of your pensionable pay. So long as you are still paying into the scheme this will be revalued every year in line with increases to the Consumer Prices Index plus 1.5%.

Take a look at our graphic 'How CARE works' to understand how this works in more detail – or watch our video – ‘Your scheme in a nutshell’.

Your pension is normally paid at your normal pension age which is the same as your State Pension age. Your normal pension age is simply when you can take your benefits in full but you can retire earlier.

The scheme also provides benefits for your dependants if you die in retirement leaving a spouse or child.

Your pension

Your pension will be paid to you every month for the rest of your life. It is taxed as earned income and we may use an emergency tax code to begin with until HM Revenue & Customs send us the correct code to use.

Your pension is index linked in line with increases in the Consumer Prices Index.

Former members of the 1995 and 2008 sections of the NHS Pension Scheme

Your pension will be made up of two parts:

1           Your pension earned in your previous section of the NHS Pension Scheme; plus

2           Your pension earned in the NHS 2015 scheme.

Have you Mental Health Officer or do you have special class status?

More information about how your benefits are worked out can be found here. 

Four months before you retire

To help us pay your benefits on time, please ask your employer for a retirment form which you should fill in and send to SPPA four months before you intend to retire.

You will need a separate form for each employment.

There are plenty of websites available to help you with your retirement planning and we have provided some useful links on this page. Please take care to ensure any other sites you use are legitimate.

Taking a tax-free lump sum

You can if you wish give up part of your pension in exchange for a tax free lump sum payment. You will receive £12 of lump sum for every £1 of annual pension given up.

HM Revenue & Customs has set a maximum amount you can take tax free and this is currently 25% of your pension fund. More detailed information about how much you can take will be provided at retirement.

If you choose to take a tax-free lump sum it will not reduce any pension payable to your dependants.

Former members of the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme

The tax free lump sum was paid automatically in the 1995 section. This means that your total lump sum will be worked out as follows:

1.Your automatic lump sum from the 1995 section; plus

2.Your optional tax free lump sum from the 2015 scheme.

If you moved to the 2008 section following Choice, you must still take the tax free cash for service up to 31 March 2008.

Former members of the 2008 section of the NHS Pension Scheme

The option to take a tax free lump sum in exchange for pension works in the same way for both the 2008 section and 2015 scheme.


  • Your guide to the NHS 2015 scheme for joiners after 1 April 2015
  • Retirement forms

Adult survivor's pension

An adult survivor can be your husband, wife, registered civil partner or, if you’re not in a legally binding relationship, you can nominate a qualifying partner using the ‘Nominating a qualify partner’ form.

For the first three months they will receive your full pension. This will then reduce to 33.75% of your pension and will be paid for life.

Children's pensions

Children’s pensions are paid until the age of 23. It may be paid indefinitely if your child is unable to earn a living due to a condition which existed at the date of your death.

16.875% of your pension will be paid to each child but if you leave more than two dependent children they will share 33.75% of your pension between them.

More information about the benefits payable can be found in the ‘Benefits payable’ table.

I would like to take early retirement

You can retire at any time after your minimum retirement age. This is currently age 55.

We’ve become increasingly aware of fraudulent activity whereby companies are contacting scheme members advising them that they can unlock their pension before age 55.

You are not able to retire before your minimum retirement age (currently 55) unless you are applying for ill health retirement. More information can be found in the Pension Regulator’s leaflet – Pensions scams. Don’t get stung.

Unless you are applying to retire early due to ill health, your pension will be reduced for early payment if you take it before your normal pension age.

If you have firm plans to retire at age 65 but your normal pension age is greater than this you can choose to buy out up to three years’ worth of reduction by paying extra contributions. This is called the Early Retirement Buy Out option. More information can be found in our factsheet.

Remember you normal pension age is the same as your State Pension age.

Special class and Mental Health Officers

More information about how we work out your early retirement benefits is given here.

Early retirement in the interests of the efficiency of the service

Your pension can be paid without reduction for early payment if your employer agrees to meet the cost of providing this.

Early retirement due to redundancy

If are over age 55, you can choose to either:

1.Take your pension immediately without reduction for early payment; or

2.Delay taking your pension until your normal pension age.

3.Take no reduction in your pension by using some or all of your redundancy payment to cover cost.

If you choose to receive your pension immediately your redundancy payment will be reduced to cover the cost of paying you a full pension early. More information will be given you to at the time.  

Related links


Pension scams


  • Your guide to the NHS 2015 scheme for joiners after 1 April 2015
  • Early retirement
  • Phased retirement
  • Early Retirement Buy Out option
  • Pension scams. Don’t get stung

Early retirement buy out option

You can take your benefits in full when you reach your State Pension age. This is known as your normal pension age and if you wish to retire earlier your pension will be reduced for early payment.

The scheme offers the facility to pay more and buy out up to three years reduction if you wish to retire at age 65 but your normal pension age is higher than this.

For an application to apply from the date of joining it must be received within three months of joining the scheme. Applications received after this time will apply from the beginning of the next scheme year as a contract cannot be taken out retrospectively for previous scheme years.

In some situations your employer may pay, some, or all of the costs.

Please read the Early retirement buy out factsheet for more information.

I may need to retire due to ill health

In some circumstances you may be able to retire early due to ill health. If agreed, the benefits you receive will depend on the nature of your illness or disability.

Lower tier

Lower tier payments are made if you’re permanently unable to do your own job. You will receive a pension equal to the amount you have built up so far.

Upper tier

You may qualify for upper tier payments if you’re unable to carry out any regular work of like duration. Your upper tier pension may be increased by an amount based on 50% of the potential pension you could have built up by State Pension age if you had continued working.

It may be possible to move between tiers after retirement if your health changes. Your benefits may be reduced or withdrawn if you take up further employment after retiring early due to ill health.

Terminal illness

If you become terminally ill you may be able to take your benefits immediately as a lump sum. In this case they will be calculated based on the upper tier.

Benefits for members who have left the scheme

If you have left the scheme when you fall ill and are unable to undertake any regular employment you may be able to take the pension you’ve earned so far.

Applying for ill health early retirement

You should request a form from your employer.  

Payment of a pension on the grounds of ill health can only be made following an assessment by SPPA’s independent medical adviser. Further details are available in the factsheet entitled Ill Health Retirement. If you leave NHS Scotland because of ill health it doesn’t automatically mean that you qualify for pension payments.



Returning to work after ill health retirement

Ill health retirement

Application for ill health retirement

I would like wind down before I fully retire

The scheme offers flexibility to allow you to partially retire while still working for NHS Scotland.

To qualify your pensionable pay must go down by at least 10% and must remain reduced for at least a year. And you must have reached your minimum retirement age (which is currently age 55).

Any benefits you take before your normal pension age will be reduced because they are being taken early.

Further details are available in the partial retirement factsheet.


Partial retirement factsheet

I'm considering delaying my retirement

The scheme offers you flexibility and choice if you wish to carry on working beyond your State Pension age. The latest you can claim your benefits is age 75 but other than that you have three choices.

Continue contributing to the scheme

If you remain an active member of the scheme you will carry on building up pension for each year of service. Your pension pots will continue to be revalued by 1.5% above the rate of increases to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

Leave the scheme

If you leave the scheme, your contributions will stop and the pension pots you have earned so far will be revalued every year in line with CPI increases until you retire.

Take the benefits you have earned so far and re-join the scheme

You will continue paying into the scheme and start earning new pension pots which will be revalued each year by CPI plus 1.5%.

If you remain in pensionable employment and take your pension after State Pension age your benefits will be increased to reflect the fact that they are being taken later. 

My Pension online services

If you have a question about your benefits you may be able to find the information you’re looking for instantly by viewing your details securely online. MyPension Online Access

Register for MyPension access