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Department of Health and Social Care confirms changes to Scheme rules for retire and re-join and partial retirement

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that amendments to the NHS Pension Scheme rules will go ahead to help retain more experienced NHS clinicians and remove barriers to staff returning to work following retirement.

The DHSC published the outcome of its consultation on the proposed changes on Tuesday 7 March NHS Pension Scheme: proposed amendments to scheme regulations consultation response (GOV.UK).

The changes, which include introducing retire and re-join for members with 1995 Section benefits and expanding partial retirement, will enable staff to more flexibly up to and beyond retirement age.

From 1 April 2023, all members will have the option to retire and re-join the pension scheme

If you’re not ready to stop work altogether, you can retire and take your full pension, then return to work after a break of at least 24 hours and re-join the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme to earn further benefits.

This is already available to members of the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme. Once the changes take effect on 1 April 2023, it will also be an option for members who have retired with 1995 Section benefits.

You can find out more about the changes and the removal of the 16-hour rule and suspension of abatement on the Your options for a flexible retirement webpage.  

Partial retirement is being expanded from 1 October 2023

Changes will be introduced from 1 October 2023 to make it simpler to take partial retirement, meaning you can claim your pension and work in a more flexible way without having to leave your job.

Taking part of your pension benefits is also sometimes known as ‘draw down’.

This is already possible for pension benefits you’ve earned in the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme. Once the changes take effect from 1 October 2023, it will also include any 1995 Section benefits you have. 

From age 55 you’ll be able to take between 20% and 100% of all your pension benefits in one or two drawdown payments, without having to leave your current job.

Members of the 1995 Section who have a protected minimum pension age of 50 will also be able to claim pension benefits without leaving their job. To do this between the ages of 50 and 55, you’ll need to take 100% of your pension benefits. From age 55, you’ll be able take between 20% and 100% of your benefits in one or two payments, without having to leave work.

You’ll be able to continue building your pension in the 2015 Scheme. You won’t need to take a break or change jobs. You can carry on working if you want. You just need to reduce your pensionable pay by 10%. GPs, non-GP providers, and dental practitioners need to reduce their NHS commitments by 10%.

You can find out more about the changes on the Your options for a flexible retirement webpage. 

Finding more information

To make sure members who are close to retirement age had a chance to consider the changes before finalising their retirement plans, the DHSC asked that we send letters to those closest to their normal retirement age from mid-January 2023, ahead of the consultation closing. This has now been completed.

We are currently sending letters to all remaining active members and will then be writing to deferred members. We expect to have sent all letters by the end  of June 2023.

You can view a copy of the letter that is being sent to all members.

Now the consultation response has been issued we’re updating our flexible retirement webpages.

We’ll be sharing more information before the end of March 2023 on the retire and return changes being introduced from 1 April 2023.

We’re aiming to share updates and information on partial retirement by early summer ahead of implementation from 1 October 2023.