When to retire

There are four ways you can retire and start taking your pension from a defined benefit (DB) scheme.

1. Normal retirement

This is usually between 60 and 65 years old, depending on the section of the Scheme you’re a member of and its Normal Retirement Age (NRA).

Once you’ve reached your NRA, you’ll get an income that takes into account your salary and membership.

And unlike other types of retirement there will be no reduction in the benefits you receive.

 If you’re unsure of what your NRA is, you can check it in your Member Guide. This is available in the library section once you have logged in to your myRPS account.

Your NRA is likely to be different to the age for claiming your State Pension.  While your NRA is set by the Scheme, the State Pension Age is set by the Government and is based entirely on when you were born. You can check your State Pension Age here.

2. Early retirement 

You may be able to start taking your pension before you reach you NRA. This is known as early retirement and is usually allowed for members aged over 55 (or over 50 years old if you have a Protected Pension Age).

Your pension payments are likely to be lower in early retirement than they would be with normal retirement. This is because you’re likely to have longer to live and so your pension will need to last longer.

How much lower your payments are depends on the ‘early retirement factors’ which can be found in your Member Guide.

If you decide to retire early, you will no longer be eligible for:

  • any in-death service lump sum or
  • ill health benefits

There are also extra restrictions if you want to take your pension early and continue working. Please click here for details.

3. Late retirement

As long as you remain an active member, you will continue paying into your pension and your benefits will continue to grow.

If you stop being an active member, you may be able to defer taking your pension up to the age of 75. This is known as late retirement.

This means your benefits will be paid at an enhanced rate when you eventually take them. Late retirement factors will be used to calculate how much extra will be added to your benefits. The late retirement factor will cover the period from your NRA (or the date you cease being an active member, if later) until when you eventually take your benefits.

If you leave employment on or after your NRA, your application to postpone taking your benefits must be received no later than three months after your date of leaving.

If your pension benefits are already preserved, you can only postpone taking them if you are within three months of your NRA (either three months before of three months after).

4. Ill-health retirement

If you have to stop work due to ill health, then you may be able to start taking your pension before the Normal Retirement Age (NRA).

You may also be able to take all your pension as a lump sum, if you have a limited life expectancy.

Unlike early retirement, ill health retirement does not result in any reduction being applied to your benefits. 

You may also be credited with additional membership to take you up to your NRA, usually up to a maximum of 10 years. This could mean you have more in your Personal Retirement Account, however you will have paid in less by this point than if you retired at NRA.   

More information can be found in our ‘Read As You Need Guide’ to claiming incapacity benefits here. 

A note on the Protected Pension Age

If you were an active member of the scheme on 5 April 2006 you may have a Protected Pension Age.  This means you will be able to retire as early as 50 years old, rather than 55.

This does not apply if you have

  • opted out of active membership or
  • transferred your benefits since 5 April 2006

If you have a Protected Pension Age and retire before age 55, there are certain restrictions that apply:

  • you must take all your benefits from the RPS (both DB and DC) at the same time;
  • you must leave employment before taking your benefits; and
  • you cannot re-join your most recent employer, or an employer in the same group, within:
    • one month in any role; or
    • six months in a role which is not ‘materially different’

If you do not stick to these restrictions then you could face a big tax bill.

Making the right decision for you

If you’re unsure which type of retirement will be best for you, you may want to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).

Liverpool Victoria (LV) has been chosen as the official partner to give RPS members access to financial advice. LV can be contacted on 0800 023 4187.  

You are still free to choose your own Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). You can find an IFA in your area at unbiased.co.uk. For the best outcome, you should make sure it’s someone who specialises in retirement planning.

Staying in or returning to work

If you decide to carry on working you may be able to start claiming your pension at any time from age 55. However this will be reduced if it is claimed before NRA.

You could also decide to retire, but then change your mind and return to work at a later date.

In both cases, there may be a significant impact on the tax you pay on your total earnings.  More details can be found here.