Life changes

Life is rarely straightforward, however much we might want it to be. Your personal circumstances could change at any time, for better or worse, so you need to understand how this may affect your pension. 

Some of these life changes are listed below, but you can find more information in your member's guide by logging into your myRPS account (or registering if you haven't already).  

Taking leave

If you’re absent from work, you’ll need to check about continuing contributions with your employer.

If you get maternity, paternity, additional paternity, family or adoption leave pay, your contributions are based on what you are earning at that time, but your benefits are based on your normal rate of pay. You can learn more about how these life changes may affect your pension in the Guide to family leave.

Taking a career break

If you are absent from work, you will need to check about continuing contributions with your employer.


You may not want to think about it too much, but it's comforting to know that provisions may be available if you have to retire due to ill health.

If you meet the criteria, you may be able to claim your RPS pension and cash lump sum early, with no reductions for early payment of your pension (which is known as enhancement) for a maximum of ten years before you reach your Normal Retirement Age.

This could be approved if:

  • you have been in the Scheme for at least five years (this applies to most Sections of the RPS but you should check your copy of 'A Guide for Members'to find out the Rules for your Section),
  • you are under your normal retirement age, and
  • a medical expert chosen by the Trustee provides evidence that you’re unable to work in your current or other suitable job.

If you’re under normal retirement age and you return to work while claiming ill-health benefits, your pension may be reduced or suspended.

You can find more information in the 'Guide for members applying for incapacity benefits', which is available in the Read as you Need section (please note, a separate guide is available for members of the Network Rail Section).

Divorce or dissolution

The breakdown of a relationship is a difficult time for everyone, but it’s still important to understand the impact on your financial future.

If you face divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, your pension is likely to be considered along with your other assets when financial settlements are worked out. A court order can be made to transfer part of the value of your pension benefits during the divorce or dissolution proceedings. If this is the case, it would mean your Scheme benefits will reduce to provide benefits for your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner. 

You can learn more in the Guide for members on divorce and dissolution