During the six months or so before your discharge from the Armed Forces you will be required to complete a Pens Form 1. It has become clear that some people do not read the instructions and fill the whole form in when they do not need to and others assume that, having filled the form in, there is nothing else to do. In this article we explain what you need to do to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to at the correct time.
So first, the Pens Form 1, which can be competed using either the electronic version available on JPA or a hard copy (so, either a copy printed out or the one supplied in your leaving pack).
If you are leaving before either your Early Departure Payment (EDP) benefits or your pension is due (and that will be most of you), you complete Part A (Service and Personal details) and, at Part B, select “I am not entitled to any immediate benefits” then jump straight to Part L (Data Protection). You sign the form off at Part M and return it to the address in Part M. That is all you need do for the moment. For those of you who are entitled to a Resettlement Grant (RG), be assured that you do not need to claim it. If you meet the RG criteria, it will be paid automatically within 30 working days of your discharge. It may be many years before you can claim your pension benefits and, as Veterans UK will not keep in touch with you in the meantime, it is down to you to remember to claim your pension three months before the due date. If you do not claim, the pension will not come into payment. Remember, too, that you may have more than one claim to make at different points in time!
If you are leaving at the EDP point or when your pension is due, you need to work through the Pens Form 1 and Part B will guide you as to which are the appropriate Parts for you, depending upon your scheme membership. You, too, need to remember that, even though one terminal benefit will come into payment on your discharge, any others that are due to you at a later date must be claimed or they will not be paid.
Turning now to when and how to claim. All preserved and deferred benefits are claimed on an AFPS Form 8 . It covers AFPS 75/05/15, FTRS 97 and RFPS 05. It is also the form to use if you are claiming your pension(s) early in the event of permanent ill-health preventing you from working full-time.
This article makes no attempt to second guess what MOD might do as a result of the successful challenge by the Judges and Firefighters to the transition rules affecting transferees to the public sector pension schemes introduced in 2015. Once MOD plans are clear, we will, of course, explain them. The examples that follow may feature combined AFPS 75/15 or AFPS 05/15 benefits but, even if the MOD solution means your personal scheme memberships alter, the principles contained in the examples remain good.
Jason joined the Army on 1 March 2005 and leaves on 1 March 2020. He was an AFPS 75 member who was transferred to AFPS 15 on 1 April 2015. He has two, possibly three, claims to make:
- Three months before his 60th birthday he must claim his AFPS 75 benefits earned before 6 April 2006;
- Three months before his 65th birthday he must claim his AFPS 75 benefits earned from 6 April 2006 to 31 March 2015. He could, if he wished, claim this part of his AFPS 75 pension at the same time as the benefits due at age 60 BUT they would be paid at a reduced rate to take into account the fact that they will be in payment for 5 years longer. This adjustment is called actuarial reduction.
- Three months before his State Pension Age (SPA) he must claim his AFPS 15 pension. He could claim this pension at any point from age 55 but it would be actuarially reduced.
So, two, possibly three claims to remember.
Sandra has three separate periods of service, she earned pension benefits from each and she decided not to aggregate them (join them together). She was an AFPS 75 member between 1 January 2005 and 31 March 2009, an AFPS 05 member between 1 April 2012 and 1 March 2015, and an AFPS 15 member between 1 April 2016 and 1 February 2020. She has up to four claims to make:
- Three months before her 60th birthday she must claim her AFPS 75 benefits earned before 6 April 2006;
- Three months before her 65th birthday she must claim her AFPS 75 benefits earned from 6 April 2006 to 31 March 2009– but these could be claimed at age 60 with actuarial reductions.
- Three months before her 65th birthday she must claim her AFPS 05 benefits – but these could be claimed at age 55 with actuarial reduction.
- Three months before her SPA she must claim her AFPS 15 pension – again she could claim this at age 55 with actuarial reductions.
Alex joined the Royal Navy on 1 April 1998 and was transferred to AFPS 15 on 1 April 2015. He is retiring on 1 April 2020 as a WO1 having given 22 years Reckonable Service. He will be leaving with an AFPS 75 Immediate Pension and an EDP from AFPS 15 (having given at least 20 years service and having served to at least age 40 – the AFPS 15 EDP 20/40 Point). He will have one claim to make:
- Three months before his SPA he must claim his AFPS 15 pension but he could claim this at age 55 with actuarial reductions without affecting his EDP payments.
Janice joined the Royal Air Force on 1 April 2000 and transferred to AFPS 05 as part of the Offer To Transfer. She was transferred to AFPS 15 on 1 April 2015 and is retiring on 1 April 2020. She will be leaving with EDPs from both AFPS 05 (having given 18 years service and served until at least age 40 – the AFPS 05 EDP 18/40 Point) and AFPS 15 (having reached the 20/40 Point), and will have up to two claims to make:
- Three months before her 65th birthday she must claim her AFPS 05 benefits.
- Three months before her SPA she must claim her AFPS 15 pension.
Either or both of these claims could be made at age 55 with actuarial reductions without affecting her EDP payments.
Most of you will be leaving before EDP or pensions are payable and will have years to wait before you can claim any pensions held for you. It is no bad idea to keep an eye on your preserved/deferred pensions and you can do this by applying for one free pension forecast per year. You do this by submitting an AFPS Form 14 to Veterans UK who, typically, turn round forecast requests within a couple of weeks. The AFPS Form 14 and the AFPS Form 8 mentioned above are available on the internet HERE.
If you are a member of the Forces Pension Society then please log in to the Members Area and check out our FAQ on 'How do I fill out Pen Form 1'
Author Mary Petley
Written for Pathfinder Magazine February 2020