Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re leaving employment due to severance or redundancy, or are considering being part of a voluntary severance scheme (VSS) or redundancy exercise, then you may have questions about your financial future. Below are some answers to questions you may have.

 

Questions about severance

You will need to speak to your employer for any queries about the Voluntary Redundancy exercise. 

You will need to speak to your employer if you’d like to take Voluntary Redundancy or have any questions about the process.

You will need to speak to your employer, if you want to check any detail about your salary or think the salary information used to calculate your pension benefits may be incorrect.

The tax-free element of a severance payment from your employer is treated independently to the tax-free lump sum from the Railways Pension Scheme. One does not impact the other.

Augmentation will not be allowed under the terms of the Voluntary Severance Scheme. If you have any questions on augmentation, you should speak to your employer. 

 

Tax advice

Railpen and the Trustee are not authorised to offer financial advice. However, you may wish to seek independent financial advice to help you make the right choices for your own specific circumstances.

Liverpool Victoria (LV) has been chosen as the official partner to give RPS members access to financial advice. You can contact LV on 0800 023 4187. This service is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Alternatively, you can find independent financial advisers in your local area at Unbiased.co.uk

 

For defined benefit members:

 

Getting an estimate of retirement benefits

You can request an estimate of your retirement benefits by logging into your myRPS account. Go to the ‘My Pension’ section and ‘Request an estimate of your retirement benefits’ page.

You can request as many as you need online if you want to check out different benefit options. You can also request estimates to include any additional severance BRASS top-up. 

The estimate will show you a full breakdown of the details we use to calculate your estimated pension benefits.

We’ll usually send the estimate to your myRPS inbox within an hour. If you see a bell icon showing in your myRPS account, this means you have a new message in your inbox.

There are some scenarios where we need to do some further manual work to give you an estimate. We’ll work through these and provide these estimates back to you through the post. However, we can only carry out one manual estimate request per member.

The member website offers the large majority of the members the ability to generate their own estimate of benefits and they can have as many estimates using this method as they like. In a small number of cases it is necessary for us to take a closer look at the estimate before we issue it to you.

During this busy period, we are restricting these estimates as we want to ensure that all members are served as best as possible to help them in their decision-making. We know that for certain members, the retirement benefits will play a more important factor in the decision-making.

If you decide to proceed and your severance is approved, then we can work through more detailed retirement quotes for you. This approach has been agreed with your employer.

Each period of service is accessed independently on the member website, although you only need one login. You can switch between periods of service using the drop-down menu at the top of the page on the home screen, once you’ve logged in. Any estimates produced via the website will only include benefits for the period of service you have selected. This is the same for the Pension Planner. Your myRPS account will default to your most recent period of service. 

Yes, if you have previous periods of membership you will need to ask for separate estimates for each record you hold. You can switch between your membership records in your myRPS account, using the blue ‘Switch scheme’ drop down menu at the top of your screen once you’ve logged in.

To request an estimate of your retirement benefits, go to the ‘My Pension’ section of your myRPS account and the ‘Request an estimate of retirement benefits’ page. Or follow the links from your account dashboard.

If you are under 55 and have a protected pension age, there are more rules around taking and/or transferring your benefits. Please refer to the ‘Protected Pension Age’ Read as you Need guide available at Railwayspensions.co.uk/rayn for more information about these rules.

Augmentation payments will not be allowed under the terms of the Voluntary Severance Scheme. If you wish to make a top-up (or one-off contribution) to your BRASS account, you should speak to your employer. If you would like to model the potential impact of paying more into your BRASS account, you can use the Pension Planner, which is available in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account. Later in the year, we will be able to provide you with the option to include BRASS top-ups in your estimate calculation.   

No – you requesting an estimate of your retirement benefits will not start your retirement application. 

If you would like to apply to start taking your retirement benefits, and currently pay into the Scheme (active members), you should speak to your employer.

Augmentation payments will not be allowed under the terms of the Voluntary Severance Scheme. If you wish to make a top-up (or one-off contribution) to your BRASS account, you should speak to your employer., If you would like to model the potential impact of paying more into your BRASS account, you can use the Pension Planner, which is available in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account. You also have the option to include BRASS top-ups in your estimate calculation when you request an estimate of your retirement benefits.   

 

Your pension details and using the website

 

To find out your earliest retirement age you can do so by logging into your myRPS account on the website. Generally members will be able to take retirement at age 55 (although a reduction in benefits is made for taking this before your normal retirement age). If you have a protected pension age (and can retire before 55) this can be seen within your membership details when you log into your myRPS account at Railwayspensions.co.uk/login.

If you have protected status (including if you have indefeasible rights), this status will be shown in your membership details when you log into your myRPS account at Railwayspensions.co.uk/login.

 

If you have protected status (including if you have indefeasible rights), this status will be shown in your membership details when you log into your myRPS account at Railwayspensions.co.uk/login.

The ‘Protected Pension Age’ Read as you Need guide available at Railwayspensions.co.uk/rayn explains more about protected status.

If you’re having problems logging into your myRPS account, you can ask to reset your details at Railwayspensions.co.uk/forgotten-details.

Enter the email address (your username) that you used when you set up your account and confirm it in the second box, then select ‘Reset my password’. If you’ve forgotten your username, please select the ‘Forgotten your username?’ link at the bottom of the screen and enter your National Insurance number, pension reference number and date of birth.

An email will be sent to the address you used and you should immediately open it and follow the link to reset your password. The email and link expire after a short time so please check your inbox as soon as you can.

If you do not receive an email, it may be that you haven’t registered on the site since it relaunched in summer 2020. In this case, please register for a new account at Railwayspensions.co.uk/register.

The Pension Planner is a handy tool for members who are currently paying into the final salary Sections of the Scheme. It uses the latest available data from your record to give a forecast of your estimated pension income.

You’ll find the Pension Planner in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account if you’re currently paying into a final salary Section of the Scheme.

The planner shows the yearly pension you’re estimated to receive, as well as the expected value of your BRASS account if you’ve made payments to the BRASS Additional Voluntary Contribution arrangement. You can also see how much you could take as a tax free lump-sum.

 

The planner uses latest available data from your record to give a forecast of your estimated pension income.

The planner uses your expected BRASS contribution information. This is the forecast of the information we expect your employer to provide to us. In a small number of instances, this could differ from the contribution information you see on your payslip. 

If you feel your salary information is incorrect, please contact your employer.

You can request an estimate of your retirement benefits by logging into your myRPS account to see a full breakdown of the details we use to calculate your estimated pension benefits.

The planner lets you see the possible effect of making extra payments to BRASS.

Simply enter the amount you’re considering paying into BRASS in the box below the graphs, where it says “Add a one-off payment to BRASS of £” or use the plus, minus or pencil icons in the blue column to model changes to your monthly contributions to BRASS. Then select ‘recalculate’.

The amount you input will be used for illustration purposes only and will not be paid into your pension savings unless you process it using the ‘making a one-off contribution to BRASS’ process below.

 

If you model a scenario where your pension exceeds the Lifetime Allowance (LTA), the planner will not calculate beyond the LTA limit. You may notice that the values look lower than they should be – this is because the excess benefits will not be included in the planner projection.

If you think the values are restricted by the LTA limit, we may be able to carry out a manual calculation. We are only able to provide manual estimates for members over the age of 50 at this time and it will be restricted to limited types of estimates and only one per member. If you later decide to go ahead with the Voluntary Severance Scheme, we will provide additional support to take into account your wider pension options.

You can find out more about the LTA in the ‘Lifetime Allowance tax limits’ Read as you Need guide at Railwayspensions.co.uk/rayn.

 

No. The results shown by the planner are for illustration and comparison purposes only and are not a guarantee of any future outcome or entitlement.

The planner shows what your retirement benefits could be, based on the information we currently hold for you, the options you have selected and assumptions that we make about future increases to your benefits and BRASS funds. However, your actual benefits in retirement could differ from the estimated figures shown.

The figures produced by the planner should not be relied upon or treated as financial advice. You should consider taking financial advice before making any changes to your pension plans.

Yes, if you have a protected pension age and more than one period of membership in the Scheme, either with the same employer or in another Section, you will need to take all of your benefits at the same time. This includes any BRASS savings you might have.

 

Additional contributions 

Your employer can calculate the maximum amount you can pay to BRASS, so you should speak to them directly. 

You can also use the BRASS calculator to get an idea of how much you can pay into BRASS. The BRASS calculator is available in the Planning for the future section when you log into your myRPS account.

You should speak to your employer if you wish to join BRASS.

If you decide you’d like to make an extra payment to your BRASS account, you should speak to your employer.

If you already pay the maximum allowed to BRASS, you may be to contribute into another arrangement called AVC Extra (this does not apply to members of the Network Rail Section). If you would like to join the AVC Extra arrangement, you should speak to your employer.

If you are under age 55, then your benefits from AVC Extra must be taken at the same time as your benefits from the Scheme and BRASS. However, they will be paid separately.

If you are over age 55 then you don’t have to take your benefits from AVC Extra at the same time and can choose to leave them in the Scheme if you wish. You must take your AVC Extra benefits by your 75th birthday.

You can transfer your AVC Extra benefits out independently of your main Scheme benefits if you wish.

If you are under age 55, then your benefits from AVC Extra must be taken at the same time as your benefits from the Scheme and BRASS. However, they will be paid separately.

If you are over age 55 then you don’t have to take your benefits from AVC Extra at the same time and can choose to leave them in the Scheme if you wish. You must take your AVC Extra benefits by your 75th birthday.

If you have BRASS savings, then you must take these benefits at the same time as your main Scheme pension. For most Sections, a value equal to your BRASS pot must be taken as a cash lump sum, up to the maximum permitted by HMRC. Any that’s left over will then be converted into pension. You can also transfer your BRASS funds out of the Scheme before you take your main Scheme benefits in order to access alternative options, such as drawdown. You would not need to transfer your main Scheme benefits at the same time. A small number of sections have different arrangements, so please check with your employer. 

You can find out more about the LTA in the ‘Lifetime Allowance tax limits’ Read as you Need guide at Railwayspensions.co.uk/rayn.

Due to the way in which the BRASS maximum limits are worked out, Railpen is unable to build the BRASS limit into our calculations. You can use our online BRASS Calculator tool to get a rough estimate (bearing in mind what you may have already contributed into BRASS without additional severance top-ups) but you must confirm your BRASS limit with your employer and ensure this is factored into any estimates you are requesting. 

 

 

For Industry-Wide Defined Contribution (IWDC) members:

 

Getting an estimate of retirement benefits

You can request an estimate of your retirement benefits by logging into your myRPS account. Go to the ‘My Pension’ section and ‘Request an estimate of your retirement benefits’ page.

You can request as many as you need online if you want to check out different benefit options. 

The estimate will show you a full breakdown of the details we use to calculate your estimated pension benefits.

We’ll usually send the estimate to your myRPS inbox within an hour. If you see a bell icon showing in your myRPS account, this means you have a new message in your inbox.

There are some scenarios where we need to do some further manual work to give you an estimate. We’ll work through these and provide these estimates back to you through the post. However, we can only carry out one manual estimate request per member.

The member website offers the large majority of the members the ability to generate their own estimate of benefits and they can have as many estimates using this method as they like. In a small number of cases it is necessary for us to take a closer look at the estimate before we issue it to you.

During this busy period, we are restricting these estimates as we want to ensure that all members are served as best as possible to help them in their decision-making. We know that for certain members, the retirement benefits will play a more important factor in the decision-making.

If you decide to proceed and your severance is approved, then we can work through more detailed retirement quotes for you. This approach has been agreed with your employer.

Each period of service is accessed independently on the member website, although you only need one login. You can switch between periods of service using the drop-down menu at the top of the page on the home screen, once you’ve logged in. Any estimates produced via the website will only include benefits for the period of service you have selected. This is the same for the Pension Planner. Your myRPS account will default to your most recent period of service. 

Yes, if you have previous periods of membership you will need to ask for separate estimates for each record you hold. You can switch between your membership records in your myRPS account, using the blue ‘Switch scheme’ drop down menu at the top of your screen once you’ve logged in.

To request an estimate of your retirement benefits, go to the ‘My Pension’ section of your myRPS account and the ‘Request an estimate of retirement benefits’ page. Or follow the links from your account dashboard.

If you are under 55, there are more rules around taking and/or transferring your benefits. Please refer to the ‘Planning for retirement’ section on the member website for more details at railwayspensions.co.uk/in-the-scheme/planning-for-retirement

No – you requesting an estimate of your retirement benefits will not start your retirement application. 

If you would like to apply to start taking your retirement benefits, and currently pay into the Scheme (active members), you should speak to your employer.

If you have not received an estimate of your retirement benefits in your myRPS inbox within an hour, it may be because you are affected by the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) limit or your estimate requires a complex calculation, which needs to be carried out manually.

If you are under 50 and unable to get an estimate via the website, unfortunately we are not able to provide you with a manual estimate at this time. We are limiting this service to best serve members who are more likely to be eligible to take their benefits now. However, you may be able to use the Retirement Modeller to get a forecast of your estimated benefits. You’ll find the Retirement Modeller in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account.

The Retirement Modeller is a tool for members of the Industry-Wide Defined Contribution (IWDC) Section of the Scheme. It uses the latest available data from your record to give a forecast of the estimated value of your Personal Retirement Account. It also lets you model the impact of changing contributions or making one-off payments and shows how you could use your account when you decide to take it.

You’ll find the Retirement Modeller in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account if you’re a member of the IWDC Section. A video explaining how to use the Retirement Modeller is available in the Video Library at railwayspensions.co.uk/resources/video-library/how-to-use-this-website.

Generally, IWDC members will be able to take retirement at age 55. To find out your earliest retirement age, you can check your membership details when you log into your myRPS account at Railwayspensions.co.uk/login.

If you’re having problems logging into your myRPS account, you can ask to reset your details at Railwayspensions.co.uk/forgotten-details.

Enter the email address (your username) that you used when you set up your account and confirm it in the second box, then select ‘Reset my password’. If you’ve forgotten your username, please select the ‘Forgotten your username?’ link at the bottom of the screen and enter your National Insurance number, pension reference number and date of birth.

 

Additional contributions 

Yes, you can pay more into your IWDC pension by making an Additional Voluntary Contribution. You should contact your employer if you’d like to do this.

No, you can pay as much as you like into your IWDC pension as an Additional Voluntary Contribution. However, there are limits on the amount you will only get tax relief on. These limits are known as the Annual Allowance and the Lifetime Allowance. You can learn more about these limits in the ‘Annual Allowance tax limits’ and ‘Lifetime Allowance tax limits’ Read as you Need guides at Railwayspensions.co.uk/rayn

 

For members who have been accepted for the Voluntary Severance Scheme:

If you are leaving your employment, you will stop paying into the Railways Pension Scheme. If you’re not yet ready – or not eligible – to apply to take your pension benefits, the benefits you’ve built up in the Scheme will be remain in it and be ‘preserved’ until you do apply to take them or transfer them out.

If you are ready and eligible to take your pension, please see the question below.

If you haven’t already recently requested an estimate of your retirement benefits, you should log into your myRPS account on the website at Railwayspensions.co.uk/login. Look in the ‘My Pension’ section of your ‘myRPS account’ and go to the ‘Request an estimate of retirement benefits’ page.

You can request as many as you need online if you want to see the impact of different benefit options. If you’re a member of a defined benefit section, you can also request estimates to include additional severance BRASS top-ups.

Once you have received your estimate, and decided which options you would like to take, you should contact your employer to start the process of taking your benefits.

You can watch a video which tells you more about transfers in the Video Library section of the website at Railwayspensions.co.uk/video-library/your-retirement-options

You can choose to transfer all of your benefits or just any Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), as long as it’s in line with the rules for your specific pension section. Please see our read as you need guide for more details on the rules that apply to you. 

You must also check that the scheme you want to transfer your benefits to accepts transfers in. 

Transferring your pension carries significant risks. You should carefully compare the benefits of your current pension with any alternatives before you make a decision. You should also be vigilant against pension scams. You can find out more about pension scams at pension-scams.com

You may benefit from financial advice. If the value of your DB benefits is more than £30,000 and you are looking to transfer to a Defined Contribution/Personal Pension Arrangement you must get independent financial advice before you can transfer. 

The Scheme’s administrator, Railpen, has appointed Liverpool Victoria (LV) to provide advice to all RPS members. You can contact LV on 0800 023 4187. Or you can choose your own Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). And you can find an IFA in your area at unbiased.co.uk

If you decide you want to go ahead with a transfer, you can find information on the documentation you’ll need to provide at railwayspensions.co.uk/pensions-transfers.

Augmentation is not allowed under the terms of the Train Operating Companies’ Voluntary Severance Scheme. If you have any questions on augmentation, you should speak to your employer.

Normally, unless you are under 55, you don’t have to take all their benefits in different sections at the same time. If you are under 55 and are relying on a protected pension age, you do have to take all their benefits at the same time. You would have to complete separate application forms for each period of membership and may choose different options for different sections

If you wish to make a top-up (or one-off contribution) to your BRASS account, you should speak to your employer. If you would like to model the potential impact of paying more into your BRASS account, you can use the Pension Planner, which is available in the ‘Planning for the future’ section when you log into your myRPS account. You also have the option to include BRASS top-ups in your estimate calculation when you request an estimate of your retirement benefits.   

If you’ve made a top-up payment to BRASS before leaving the Scheme, we may not receive this in the final payment from your employer until after your retirement date. We may then need to recalculate your benefits. We will send you a letter confirming your revised benefits around a month after your retirement date if this is the case.

Railpen and the Trustee are not authorised to offer financial advice. However, you may wish to seek independent financial advice to help you make the right choices for your own specific circumstances.

Liverpool Victoria (LV) has been chosen as the official partner to give RPS members access to financial advice. You can contact LV on 0800 023 4187. This service is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

You can alternatively choose your own adviser if you prefer. See unbiased.co.uk for a list of independent financial advisers in your area.

We are dealing with a high volume of retirement requests at the moment because of the voluntary severance scheme. Unfortunately this means. Your pension payments may not start on (or around) your retirement date, but we will do our best to start making payments as close to that date as possible. 

If you’re a member of a defined benefit section of the Scheme, usually, we ask you to confirm your intended retirement date with your employer three months in advance. They will then let us know and we will send you forms to complete to tell us which options you want to take. We need to receive those forms at least one month before your retirement date. We will then process your retirement and send you a letter to confirm your benefits and when the payments will start.

If you are taking a lump sum, this would usually be paid on (or shortly after) your retirement date. Your pension would usually be paid every 4 weeks following your retirement date. You should not expect to receive a payment on the day you retire. However, because we are dealing with a backlog of retirement requests, your pension payments may be delayed.

If you’re a member of the IWDC Section:

  • You will need to contact your employer if you are still paying into the Scheme (an active member). If you are already a preserved member you will firstly need to request an estimate online and then contact us by emailing TOCqueries@railpen.com and we will send you your quotation and options, along with a retirement application form for you to complete.
  • You will need to complete and return the form to tell us how you want to take your benefits.

    –     If you are choosing to use your IWDC benefits to take drawdown or buy an annuity, you will need to choose a provider, ask them to set it up for you and return the necessary paperwork to us. We will then disinvest your funds after we have received any final contributions – which could be a number of weeks after your retirement date – and transfer them to your new provider.

    –     If you choose total encashment, once we have processed your application, the money will be paid directly to your bank account.

You can find more details on how to apply for your IWDC pension here. You should be aware that once you take your benefits from the IWDC Section, you might then have a lower limit on the tax relief you can get for any future defined contribution pension savings you make elsewhere. This is known as the Money Purchase Annual Allowance. You can learn more in the ‘ Annual Allowance tax limits’ guide.

If you want to make a one-off contribution to your RPS pension to boost your retirement savings, you will need to do this before you leave the Scheme (this will be before the date you request your pension to start), so please speak to your employer as soon as possible as your employer will confirm the maximum amount that you are allowed to contribute. It is not possible to pay into your Scheme pension or any AVCs once your pension is preserved or being paid to you.

You can watch a video explaining how to make a top-up payment to BRASS here.

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