TPS 2015: An Overview

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Pay and pensions
20 February 2017
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On 1 April 2015, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) changed to become both a final salary scheme and a career average revalued earnings (CARE) scheme.

Changes to the teachers’ schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland mean all three schemes are virtually identical, and this page provides an overview.

The new schemes have different types of membership. Some members will see no change and will remain in the final salary scheme, other members will have benefits in both the final salary and CARE schemes, and new entrants from 1 April 2015 will have benefits in only the CARE scheme.

What type of member are you?

The first step to understanding the changes will be to determine what type of member you are. Are you a protected member, a tapered member, a transition member or a new entrant? Where relevant, to work out your state pension age (SPA), visit www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension.

Protected member

If you were an active member on or before 1 April 2012 and within 10 years of your normal pension age (NPA) on that date, you are a protected member. In other words, you are a protected member if your retirement age is 60 (NPA 60) and you were aged 50 or over on 1 April 2012. Similarly, you are a protected member if your retirement age is 65 (NPA 65) and you were aged 55 or over on 1 April 2012.

If you are a member in this category, you did not enter CARE in April 2015. As a protected member, you have remained in the final salary scheme and will continue to accumulate pension in that scheme after 1 April 2015. Your retirement age will remain age 60 or 65 depending on when you joined the TPS. You will remain a protected member as long as you do not have a disqualifying break (a continuous break of more than five years).

If you have break of more than five years, you will be treated as a new entrant. Please note that if you return to work after taking all of your benefits, you will accrue benefits in the CARE scheme for future service.

Tapered member

You are a tapered member if you were an active member of the TPS on or before 1 April 2012 and you were more than 10 years but fewer than 13.5 years from your NPA on that date. On 1 April 2015, you remained in the final salary scheme, and you will then move into the CARE scheme at a later date. See [www.atl.org.uk/pay/pensions/changes-to-the-TPS-April-2015.asp] or the Teachers' Pensions website to find out your transition date.

You will remain a tapered member as long as you do not have a disqualifying break. Please note however, that if you return to work after taking all of your benefits, you will accrue benefits in the CARE scheme for future service. If you are a protected or tapered member and you have benefits in both the NPA 60 and NPA 65 sections, your relevant age would be in relation to your NPA 65 pension. Your NPA for your care benefits is will be 65 or your state pension age (SPA) if higher.

Transition member

If you were more than 13.5 years from your NPA on 1 April 2012, you entered the CARE scheme on 1 April 2015 and you are a transition member. Your NPA for your care benefits is will be 65 or your state pension age (SPA) if higher.

New entrant

If you joined or will join the TPS for the first time on or after 1 April 2015, you will automatically join the CARE scheme as a new entrant. Your NPA for your care benefits is will be 65 or your state pension age (SPA) if higher.

Retired or out of service (deferred)

If you are a retired member or have left the TPS (deferred) you will only be affected if you return to pensionable service. Your category may be affected if you have had or are currently on a break from pensionable service (ie not in the TPS). Usually only breaks of five years or more count, but you may wish to contact Teachers’ Pensions (TP) or ATL to discuss your circumstances if you are unsure.

What about my pension benefits?

If you are a protected member, your benefits in the final salary age 60/65 schemes remain unchanged and you will continue to accumulate pension as you do currently. At retirement there is no change in the way your pension will be calculated.

A tapered member will have benefits in both final salary and CARE. Any benefits you have built up in final salary will be fully protected and will remain in final salary. The final salary benefits you have built up until the date you enter CARE will remain unaffected by the changes and you retain your existing NPA for those benefits. At retirement, you will receive a pension made up of final salary and CARE.

When you retire, your final salary benefits will be calculated using the salary you are earning at retirement rather than the salary you are on when you join the CARE scheme. This is known as the final salary link and it will mean that you will still benefit from any growth in your salary at retirement. In order to benefit from the final salary link, you must not have a disqualifying break.

A transition member will have benefits in both final salary and CARE. Any benefits you built up in final salary up to 31 March 2015 will be fully protected and will remain in final salary. The final salary benefits you have built up will remain unaffected by the changes and you retain your existing NPA for those benefits.

You moved into the CARE scheme on 1 April 2015 and started to build up CARE benefits from that point. At retirement, you will receive a pension made up of final salary and CARE. When you retire, your final salary benefits will be calculated using the salary you are earning at retirement rather than the salary you are on when you join the CARE scheme. This is known as the final salary link and it will mean that you will still benefit from any growth in your salary at retirement. In order to benefit from the final salary link, you must not have a continuous break in service of more than five years.

A new entrant will only have benefits in the CARE scheme. There is no final salary pension payable and your benefits at retirement will be calculated under the CARE arrangements. Your information In England and Wales, the TPS is administered on behalf of the Department for Education by Capita.

The best way to access your most up to date information is by signing up for ‘My pension online’ at www. teacherspensions.co.uk. All the forms you will need over the course of your membership can be accessed from here, and applications can also be made online.

ATL urges all members to check their pension statement at least once a year online to ensure their records are correct and up to date. If you cannot access the internet, paper copies of your record and any forms that you require can be obtained by ringing TP on 0345 606 6166 (standard rate number) between 8.30am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

If you are a member of Teachers’ Pensions in Northern Ireland, please visit www.deni.gov.uk or call 028 7131 9000. If you are a member of Teachers’ Pensions in Scotland, see www.sppa.gov.uk or call 01896 893 000. ATL’s full series of factsheets on the TPS 2015 is available at www.atl.org.uk/factsheets. For further help and advice contact ATL’s pension team at info@atl.org.uk or call 020 7782 1600.