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Special class status

This applies to nurses, physiotherapists, midwives and health visitors who were awarded special class status on or before 31 March 1995.

It allows women to retire from age 55 without having their pension benefits reduced and men to retire from age 55 without having a proportion of their benefits reduced.

Mental Health Officers (MHO)

This was awarded up to 31 March 1995 to members whose primary role is in the care and treatment of mentally ill patients including working in the community.

After 20 years’ MHO membership you earn service at double the standard rate.

MHO and special class status is lost if you have a break in service of five years or more.

If you are not eligible for full or tapered protection you will move to the NHS 2015 scheme and there will be no further build up of MHO entitlement because there is no MHO provision in the 2015 scheme.

However, if you could have achieved at least 21 years’ MHO service by age 55, the value of your previous MHO membership will be maintained.

Do I qualify for full protection?

You are eligible for full protection if:

  • you were paying into the scheme on 1 April 2012 and on that date you were age 45 or over; and
  • you were paying into the scheme on 1 April 2015.

Full protection means you will not join the NHS 2015 scheme and you will see no change to how your benefits are worked out and when you can retire.

Do I qualify for tapered protection?

You are eligible for tapered protection if:

  • you were paying into the scheme on 1 April 2012; and
  • on 1 April 2012 you were more than 10 years from age 55 but within 13 years and 5 months; and
  • you were paying into the scheme on 1 April 2015.

Will I move to the 2015 scheme?

If you are not eligible for full protection you will move to the NHS 2015 scheme either on 1 April 2015 or on the date specified by your for tapered protection entitlement.

On moving to the 2015 scheme there will be no further build up of MHO entitlement because there is no MHO provision in the 2015 scheme.

However, if you could have achieved at least 21 years’ MHO service by age 55, the value of your previous MHO membership will be maintained.

Do I have special class or MHO status?

Special class or MHO status is only available to members of the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme.


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