We understand that making decisions about your pension can be challenging.

That’s why we have a dedicated space for all things pensions to support you in understanding your options by directing you to the right information, to help you make those important decisions about your future.

Frequently asked questions

Here you can find the most frequently asked questions and answers to help support you in decisions you are making about your NHS Pension Scheme.

Thinking about taking your pension? 

This information will be useful for anyone who is thinking about retirement and taking their pension.

  • The earliest age that you can draw your pension is known as the minimum pension age. 
  • The earliest age you can retire is dependent on which pension scheme you are on, either at 50 or 55. 
  • If you are thinking of retiring early, the amount you can claim may be less than your pension and retirement lump sum. 
What next?

  • If you are looking at taking or applying for your pension, you will firstly need to understand the retirement process outlined below.
  • Firstly you must formally agree your date of retirement with your Line Manager and hand in your notice of resignation in accordance with your organisations Retirement policy. 
  • Once this date has been agreed your line manager needs to send the Employee Services department a Termination Form to:  rwh-tr.bcwbccg.payroll@nhs.net
  • Upon receipt of the Termination Form your Employee Services Officer will post you a Retirement Application Pack to your home address – please ensure the correct address is held for you on the ESR payroll system. 
  • If you are ready to proceed, you will need to complete either the AW8, AW8P or AW8PC form depending on your circumstances. To help you decide which form you will need, read the factsheet below.
  • The forms will be provided by your employer or can be downloaded below. This will need to be submitted ideally 6 months before the intended retirement date. It is always advised to ask your employer for the most up to date forms. 
What next?

  • Depending on what pension scheme you are on, there are different ways of receiving it. You will either receive it as a full lump sum, or request to take part of it as a lump sum. Use the guides below to work out how much you may get. 
  • NHS Pensions produce an annual statement for active members every August called the Total Reward Statement (TRS). This can be found on your ESR Self Service page.
  • The NHS Pension tab on you TRS will show the current value of your benefits inclusive of all Scheme membership from any previous NHS employments/transferred in membership. It also provides details of your Normal Pension Age. This is the age that your benefits become payable without any reduction.
  • If you have membership in more than one section of the Scheme this will be split on your TRS into 1995, 2008 and 2015 as applicable.
What next?

Thinking about returning to work after retirement?

You may be able to retire and return to a different or similar role within the NHS, this information will be useful for anyone who has already taken their pension and are interested in returning in the future.

  • Yes, you may be able to do this however it depends on which pension section or scheme you are part of. 
  • If you were part of the 1995 Section, pensionable re-employment is not permitted unless you retired on ill health grounds and return to employment before reaching age 50. 
  • If you are part of the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme, you may be able to return.
  • In all circumstances, you will need to take a minimum break of 24 hours before returning. 
What next?

  • Yes, you may be able to do this however it depends on which pension section or scheme you are part of, the date you retired, the type of ill health pension you have received and your age when you return to work. 
  • There may also be time restrictions to how long you will be able to work. 
What next?

  • Your pension is not affected if you are over the normal pension age.
  • For 1995 Section this is 60, for 2008 Section this is 65 and for 2015 Scheme members this is 65. 
  • Your NHS pension may be reduced if you return to work after early retirement. 
What next?

Thinking about joining the NHS Pension Scheme?

You can choose to opt in or opt out of an NHS Pension Scheme. This information will be useful for anyone who is interested in joining.

  • You will be automatically enrolled at the start of your employment. 
  • If you have opted out previously, you can still opt in by re-joining. You can re-join a scheme if you took a 1995 Section ill health pension and are under 50 or you took a 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme pension and are under 75. 
  • If you want to re-join after a break of 5 years or more, you will need to fill out a form which can be downloaded below. 
What next?

  • Your employer will contribute 20.6% however your contributions are dependent on your salary ranging from 5% - 14.5%. 
  • Pension banding is based upon the whole-time annual equivalent of your pensionable earnings, including any enhancements. This means that the figure used to determine your contribution rate may be higher than your annual salary Band on the AFC Pay Scales, as they do not include enhancements.
  • When you first start your new NHS employment your contribution band will be based on your starting salary. If you do earn more than this basic rate then your contributions will increase from the next 1st of April, if applicable.
  • The contribution bands are shown in the table below:
Tier Pensionable Pay (whole time equivalent) / Earnings used to assess contributions rate Contribution rate from 1 April 2015
1 Up to £15,431.99 5.0%
2 £15,432.00 to £21,477.99 5.6%
3 £21,478.00 to £26,823.99 7.1%
4 £26,824.00 to £47,845.99 9.3%
5 £47,846.00 to £70,630.99 12.5%
6 £70,631.00 to £111,376.99 13.5%
7 £111,377.00 and over 14.5%


What next?


Preparing for the future is an important aspect of your career and a pension scheme may help you manage your finances when it comes to retirement age. You can benefit from employer contributions, family benefits, ill health benefits and increases to your pension by joining. 

What next?

This video explains the benefits of joining the NHS pension

You may be able to transfer your pension benefits to another provider.

What next?

This guide explains the process of opting out of your pension 

National programmes of support

Our national programmes of support are here to guide you with all NHS England and Wales Pension Scheme queries.

The national NHS England and NHS Improvement pension support service portal ranging from access to information to face to face support. This service is for existing NHS employees who are part of an NHS Pension Scheme. 


The national support hub for existing NHS employees that are members of the NHS Pension Scheme. This service is for employees thinking of joining and existing NHS employees who are part of an NHS Pension Scheme.


An internal online tool to update and amend pension records. This service is for employers who would like to access pensions functionalities for employees. 


BMA provides information about the NHS Pension Scheme including guidance to important questions.  This service is for anyone wanting to find out about the NHS Pension Scheme.  


RCN provides information about the NHS Pension Scheme. This service is for nurses wanting to find out about the NHS Pension Scheme. 


Union news and advice on the NHS Pension Scheme. This service is for anyone wanting to find out about the NHS Pension Scheme.  


Unite provides news and updates on public sector pension schemes. This website is for anyone wanting to find out about updates to the NHS Pension Scheme.