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Members Newsletter March 2024

This newsletter is for all active and deferred members of the HSC Pension Schemes and contains important information about your HSC Pension Scheme Benefits.

The below information is available in a downloadable/printable format below:

Members Newsletter March 2024

  • Department of Health Consultation

    The Department of Health is consulted on amendments to the Regulations that provide the rules for the HSC Pension Schemes. The Consultation ran from 14th November 2023 until 5pm on 22nd January 2024.
    In summary, the proposals amend the HSC Pension Scheme Regulations as follows:

    • Changes to the member contribution structure from 1 April 2024
    • Changes to the employer contribution rate from 1 April 2024
    • Changes to abatement provisions for special class status (SCS) members
    • Changes to scheme access policy

    The Department of Health has now published the response document to the recent consultation relating to the introduction of new retirement flexibilities, including partial retirement. Some further detail on these changes can be found in this Newsletter. The full response can be found at the following link:

    HSC Pension Scheme – proposed amendments to scheme regulations regarding flexibilities | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)

  • Partial Retirement

    Under the current 1995 Regulations, members are unable to partially retire, whereas they are able to do so in the 2008 Section and 2015 Scheme.

    The Health and Social Services (Superannuation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 have been amended to allow members to partially retire and claim up to 100% of their 1995 Section benefits, whilst continuing to work and accrue further pension in the 2015 Scheme.

    It is hoped partial retirement will better support members’ work/life balance and may also help the HSC to retain valued experienced staff in the workforce, as members may wish to partially retire and work longer than they had previously planned.

    Guidance for employers and members, including calculators, the application criteria and forms for completion will be available shortly on the HSC Pension Scheme website.

    HSC Pension Service are also working with Trust & Regional Orgs HR Teams to facilitate workshops and seminars for both Members and Managers to provide guidance and understanding of this change in regulations.

    This regulation amendment will take effect from 01 April 2024

    Important: Whilst members can apply to take partial retirement from 01 April 2024, HSC PS will do all we can to process these applications as efficiently as possible, however members must be made aware that due to resourcing issues we may not be in a position to calculate and pay benefits for some months. Applications that need to be backdated to a chosen retirement date will include arrears owing.

  • 16 Hour Rule

    Under the current 1995 Regulations, members who take their pension benefits and then return to work can only work a maximum of 16 hours per week in their first month back without impacting their pension (this is currently suspended until 31 March 2024).

    This rule, which is currently suspended is being permanently removed from 01 April 2024, allowing staff to maximise the hours they contribute, if they wish, without impacting their pension after they claim their 1995 Section benefits.

    Members who fully retire and return to HSC employment must still adhere to the 24-hour break rule.

  • Pensionable Re-Employment

    Under the current regulations of the HSC Pension Scheme, members who take their 1995 Section benefits are not permitted to build up further pension in the 2015 Scheme if they return to work in the HSC.

    The Health and Personal Social Services (Superannuation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 have now been amended to allow members who take their 1995 Section benefits to continue to build up pension in the 2015 Scheme, if they wish. This may help some retired staff to bridge the gap between claiming their HSC pension benefits and receiving their State
    Pension.

    This regulation amendment will take effect from 01 April 2024. The Re-joiner form can be found at HSC Pension Scheme Forms. This form should be returned to your HR Department.

  • Roll-back to Legacy Scheme

    HSC Pension Service (HSCPS) have made progress in implementing the first stage of the McCloud Remedy by rolling affected members back into their legacy scheme i.e. 1995/2008 up until 31st March 2022. All active members will be moved to the 2015 CARE Scheme from 1st April 2022.

    As a result, all pension calculations processed on or after 1st April 2024 will have benefits up to 31st March 2022 calculated under their legacy scheme i.e. 1995/2008. All benefits accrued from 1st April 2022 onwards will be calculated under the 2015 CARE Scheme. HSCPS will contact retirees at a later date with personalised information to assist in making their choice regarding their benefits for the remedy period (01/04/2015 – 31/03/2022).

    If a member chooses to keep their existing benefits, no changes will be needed. If a member chooses to receive different pension benefits for the remedy period, adjustments will be made to their pension payments accordingly. Any changes will be backdated to the date of retirement

  • Submission of AW6 Pension Application

    The retirement process for Voluntary Early Retirement and Normal Age Retirement previously called for the Pension Benefit Application (AW6) to be submitted to your HR Department 4 months in advance of your chosen retirement age.

    Due to the McCloud Project and other changes in regulations such as Partial Retirement additional time is required for the calculation and processing of pensions. As a result, the notice period for retirements is extended to 6 months.

    <b>**Please ensure when completing your pension application that you have entered the correct bank details for payment.</b>