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Monitoring Your Pension

Pensions go some way to provide family financial security and it is a good idea to keep an eye on pension savings as they grow.  If you understand what is in the kitty you will make better decisions about whether you need other savings or investments to ensure a comfortable retirement. 

In this short article written for the Autumn issue of Envoy Magazine we explain the tools that are available to help you with this and the difference between them.

Benefits Information Statements (BISs) were introduced in August 2015 and all serving personnel (including members of the Part Time Volunteer Reserve or PTVR) should receive a fresh BIS annually, shortly after their birthday.  The idea is to provide a concise statement of pension earnings up to the date of the BIS and offer the opportunity to identify and correct any errors found. Non-receipt or errors should be referred to Unit Admin staff.

The BIS is a snapshot of the pension as if the member were leaving service on their birthday that year and the spouse or civil partner benefits which would become payable if they were to die in service at that point.  It separates the benefits so that it is clear which benefits result from which scheme, and when they are payable. 

It does NOT show benefits transferred in from other schemes, the value of any Added Years or Added Pension purchased, or the impact of divorce-related orders on the pension. 

Further, it does not mention the benefits payable for dependent children or unmarried partners.  These are omitted to keep the BIS simple.  The eligibility rules for children under AFPS 75 differ so markedly from those of AFPS 05, AFPS 15 and RFPS, and AFPS 75 does not feature pensions for unmarried partners. To cover everything would make the document too complicated, and discourage  the owner from reading it!

So, in a nutshell, the BIS is a useful tool, but it is a snapshot of benefits at the time it was issued and should not be used for financial planning.

The Pension Calculator  A handy on-line tool but its accuracy depends entirely on the data that is input and it, too, has some limitations.  For example, it will assume that the rank for pension is the rank that it has been told the member holds.  The problem is that under AFPS 75 rules rank for pension is:

For Other Ranks - the highest paid rank held for two years in the last five; or

For Officers – the highest substantive rank held for two years or acting rank held for three years.

Periods of more than one year of the two or three required, a proportionate uplift in the pension is applied.

The Pension Calculator cannot deal with this and will always assume that the AFPS 75 rank qualification criteria has been fulfilled.  Further, it cannot deal with split service, transfers in, Added Pension, Added Years or Pension Sharing Orders. 

It CAN deal with PTVR calculations but the input is rather time-consuming and more demanding.  The scheme year runs from 1 April to 31 March and PTVR personnel will need to enter all their Service history for each scheme year.  Changes of rank, rate of pay or the number of days worked within a scheme year, will require a separate Service history for each change within that scheme year.  BUT there are notes on the screen to help. 

The message here is that the Pension Calculator is a terrific tool in many respects, but it is not fool proof and it comes with a disclaimer!

Formal Pension Forecast calculates benefits using the actual data as held by DBS and the actual rules of the scheme or schemes in which benefits have been accrued.  Everybody is entitled to one free formal pension forecast a year and it is obtained by submitting an AFPS Form 12 (while still serving) or an AFPS Form 14 (once discharged).   Again, when you receive your forecast check it – errors can occur.  

AFPS Forms 12 and 14 and the AFPS Calculator can be found here

To summarize, there are three methods of pension monitoring available – the BIS annual snapshot, the on-line Pension Calculator and the formal pension forecast provided by Glasgow on request.  All are useful in their own way but the most useful one to rely on for financial planning is the formal pension forecast – but even that contains a disclaimer. 

If you are a member and have any questions on this or any other pension issue, please contact us on .  If you are not a member but would like to know more about us, visit

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