Understanding when you can access your LGPS pension benefits can be confusing.
The scheme rules have changed a number of times, especially since 2008, including the age when you can draw your pension without any reductions being applied.
As a current LGPS member, you can draw your pension at any age between 55 and 75 if you have membership in the scheme of at least 2 years.
It’s important to note that if you choose to retire early, your benefits will be reduced because you'll be receiving them for longer (retiring early means retiring before your State Pension Age).
Therefore, as well as knowing when you can draw your pension from us, it’s important to also understand how we calculate the pension benefits due to you.
See more information about how your pension is worked out.
Drawing your pension early
You can take your pension voluntarily at any time from when you reach the age of 55. You don’t need your employer’s consent, but if you decide to retire, you should still let your employer know in good time by following the notice periods in your contract.
Don’t forget that drawing your pension early means that it will be paid at a reduced level permanently, so it’s advisable to seek independent financial advice before you make your final decision.
If you've been an LGPS member since before 1 October 2006, some of your pension benefits might be protected by the "rule of 85" and be payable at an unreduced level. Your annual benefit statement that you receive each year will help you to work out if that’s the case.
Being made redundant or being retired early by your employer
If your employer ends your employment because of redundancy or business efficiency and you're at least 55, you must draw your pension benefits. These will be paid at an unreduced level, based on your membership to your last day of employment.
If you're under 55 when your employer ends your employment, you can voluntarily draw your pension at any time once you reach 55, but it'll be paid at a reduced level.
You may be able to draw your pension and carry on working.
If you're at least 55 and reduce your hours or pay grade, flexible retirement allows you to draw your pension benefits when you move to your new reduced working hours or grade. You'll need your employer’s approval. They will have a policy on when they will approve flexible retirement.
If you take flexible retirement before your normal pension age, it’s likely that your benefits will be paid at a reduced level because you’re drawing them early. Employers can pay a sum (called a shortfall) to the pension fund to enable benefits to be paid unreduced, although that very rarely happens.
Ill health retirement
You can apply for ill health retirement at any age.
Ill health can strike us at any time, so if you permanently can’t continue working because of illness or injury, you can apply for ill health retirement. The decision as to whether your application can be approved is made by your employer who must seek an independent medical recommendation. It is not guaranteed to be approved.
In the first instance you should talk to your employer, who will guide and support you through the process.
If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, please contact your employer and the pension fund immediately.
Drawing your pension after your normal pension age
Some people carry on working after their normal pension age. If you decide to do this, you can carry on paying into the LGPS until the day before your 75th birthday.
We will then increase your pension because you’ll be drawing it later than normal but you must remember that we have to pay your pension to you by your 75th birthday, but you can carry on working.
The national LGPS member website has more information about when you can draw your pension.