If you are aged 55 and over and you have agreement from your employer, you can choose to take part, or all of your pension benefits while you continue working in NHS employment and build your pension benefits in the 2015 Scheme. This is called partial retirement – it may also be known as drawdown.
The pension benefits you take through partial retirement will be paid as a monthly amount.
This is already possible for pension benefits you’ve earned in the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme. From 1 October 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is introducing changes to partial retirement so it will also include any 1995 Section benefits you have.
The amount of benefits you can take through partial retirement is also increasing. From 1 October 2023 you’ll be able to take from 20% up to 100% of all your pension benefits in one or two drawdown payments, without having to leave your current job.
Read more in our factsheet:
If you’re thinking of applying
If you wish to take partial retirement, you need to agree a new working arrangement that lets you reduce your pensionable pay by at least 10%. For example, you could change your level of responsibility, work fewer hours, or move to a new role. Speak with a member of your HR team to agree an arrangement that works for both you and your employer.
This also applies if you're wanting to take partial retirement of your pension for a second time.
Your pensionable pay must stay at the reduced level for at least 12 months after you take partial retirement, or you’ll no longer be eligible for the pension you’ve taken. During this time, you may still be able to do additional work that doesn’t count towards your pension, such as overtime or bank work.
Make sure to leave enough time to discuss your suggestions with your employer, as agreement of your new working arrangement needs to be in place before your employer sends us your application for partial retirement.
Being eligible for partial retirement
To be eligible for partial retirement you must:
- have reached your minimum pension age
- be an active member of the Scheme
- reduce your actual pensionable pay by at least 10% for the 12 months starting from the date you take partial retirement (for GP’s, Dental Practitioners, Ophthalmic and non-GP Providers a 10% reduction in commitment is required)
- your 10% reduction in pensionable pay is calculated based on your previous level of pensionable pay for the 12 months before you take partial retirement
- have a change in your terms and conditions of employment to reflect your reduction in pensionable pay, the rest of your terms and conditions remain the same
- expect your new level of pensionable pay to last at least 12 months from the point partial retirement is taken
- not have already claimed partial retirement on two occasions.
The minimum pension age for most members is 55. However, there are some members of the 1995 Section who will have a protected minimum pension age of 50. These are generally members who joined the NHS Pension Scheme before 6 April 2006.
If you have a minimum pension age of 50 and wish to claim your partial retirement pension benefits, you must take 100% of your 1995 Section pension benefits. This is part of the legislation published by HM Revenue & Customs, and it is not within our power to waive this requirement.
If you’re applying to partially retire before you reach your normal pension age, your pension benefits will be reduced as they are being paid early. The normal pension age for members of the 1995 Section is 60, 2008 Section is age 65 and for members of the 2015 Scheme it is their State Pension Age or age 65, whichever is later.
Applying for partial retirement
The application process for partial retirement is almost the same as when you're applying to retire.
You’ll need to complete a retirement application form called an AW8 Retirement Benefits Claim Form. Your employer will be able to provide you with a copy of the AW8 form. There's also a short additional form for your employer to complete called the partial retirement supplementary form.
Once you’ve completed the relevant sections of the forms you should give these to your employer to finalise their sections and they’ll send your application to us.
Use the tools to help decide how much pension to take
A Partial Retirement Calculator will be available in October to support you with your application to partially retire. It will allow you and your employer to see how taking different percentages of your pension at partial retirement affects the amount of pension benefits you’ll get overall.
We recommend waiting until this calculator is available to work out the amount of pension you want to take and the change in working arrangement that’s best for you.
If you want to take partial retirement earlier, you can apply to take partial retirement from 1 October 2023 by submitting your form in early August, and we’ll do all we can to process these applications by this date. We’ll also make it possible for applications that need it to be backdated to your chosen retirement date.
If you're affected by the McCloud ruling
You can check if you’re affected by the McCloud ruling by visiting our Changes to public service pensions page.
Part of the McCloud remedy is that all affected members will be given a choice between taking their benefits for the remedy period from the 1995/2008 Section, or taking 2015 Scheme benefits instead.
If you're affected, on 1 October 2023, your pensionable service for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022, known as the remedy period, will automatically be put back into the 1995/2008 Section until it’s time to make your choice.
If you apply to take partial retirement, we’ll contact you within 12 months of taking your pension benefits, to ask you to choose the benefits that are right for you for the remedy period.
Depending on how long you’d like to work, it may change the part of the Scheme that’s right for you for your service during the remedy period.
Your McCloud choice means there are other factors to take into account when deciding what percentage of your pension to take at partial retirement, as it could affect your tax position, or your final salary link if you have one. If you later choose to take 2015 Scheme benefits for the remedy period, you may have overpayments to pay back. If you cannot wait for the Partial Retirement Calculator, we’ve built an interim tool to help you avoid this.
The McCloud Percentage Tool cannot give you as much information as the Partial Retirement Calculator, but it allows you to see what percentage of pension you can take to avoid having overpayments to repay when you make your McCloud choice later on.
To use the McCloud Percentage Tool you’ll need to know the membership that’s been used to calculate your pension benefits. This is called your pensionable service or reckonable pay depending on the Section or Scheme. You can find it on your Annual Benefit Statement (ABS) or Total Reward Statement (TRS) or ask your employer.
If you were a fully protected member for McCloud, you can use the percentage from this tool and your ABS or TRS statement to estimate your benefits.
If you were not a fully protected member and moved to the 2015 Scheme before 1 April 2022, use the Partial Retirement Member Estimate form on our getting an estimate of your pension webpage and we’ll produce an estimate for you.
Annual Benefit Statements (ABS) and Total Reward Statements (TRS) are updated each year in August. Statements published in late August 2023 will show your record updated to the end of March 2023.
Why the changes are being made
Under the current 1995 Regulations, members are currently unable to partially retire, or to take some of their pension benefits whilst continuing to work and build further pension.
From 1 October 2023 the DHSC is changing the 1995 Section regulations to allow members to partially retire and claim up to 100% of their 1995 Section benefits whilst continuing to work and build up further pension in the 2015 Scheme.
Under the current 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme regulations, members can only claim a maximum of 80% of their benefits.
To make sure the rules for partial retirement are the same for all members, the DHSC is also changing the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme regulations to allow up to 100% drawdown, instead of a maximum of 80%.
Increased availability of partial retirement may better support members’ work/life balance and help retain valued experienced staff in the workforce. Members affected by pension tax may also consider partially retiring and remaining in work, rather than opting out of the NHS Pension Scheme or leaving the NHS completely.
We've written to all members to let them know that the changes are being introduced.
Abatement following partial retirement and additional pension
The DHSC has noticed an error in the 2015 Scheme regulations around abatement following partial retirement from that scheme where members hold additional pension.
Under the 2008 Section regulations, if members who partially retire are affected by abatement, then their additional pension continues in payment. In the 2015 Scheme regulations the additional pension is also subject to abatement.
The DHSC will be amending the 2015 Scheme regulations so that additional pension will not be subject to abatement following partial retirement.
To date, no members who have partially retired from the 2015 Scheme have been subject to abatement in respect of their additional pension.
Our next update
The Partial Retirement Calculator will be available in October to support you with your application. It will allow you and your employer to see how different percentages of your pension at partial retirement will affect your overall pension benefits.