Opting out

If you elect to become a special firefighter member, you can opt out at any time by giving a signed, written notice to the fire and rescue authority. If the notice is in electronic format, you must include a statement confirming that you personally submitted the notice.

The notice would take effect from the start of the following pay period. If you do opt out, this would be in respect of the whole scheme; you cannot, for example, choose to opt out of just the Additional Pension Benefit provision (if it applies to you).

Upon opting out of the FPS 2006 Special Members you would become a special deferred member. The deferred pension would be assessed on the pensionable service accrued from the date on which your election to join took effect, plus a service credit in respect of the mandatory special period contributions that you have paid at the date of opting out. If you had not paid these contributions in full at the date of opting out, you would be given a pro rated service credit based on the sum due and the sum paid. Or, if you wish, you may pay the balance of contributions within three months of opting out and you would then be given credit for the full amount of special pensionable service that you had been "purchasing".

You can request that your deferred pension should be converted to a transfer value payable to another approved pension arrangement.

You would cease to have any further cover under the FPS (other than that provided by a deferred pension). You would, however, continue to be covered by the provisions of the Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme in the event of a qualifying injury.

If you subsequently change your mind and wish to rejoin the FPS you may do so, provided you satisfy the membership conditions at that time. Your written, signed election to rejoin would take effect from the start of the following pay period. You would not, however, be permitted to rejoin as a special firefighter member, nor would you be able to resume payment of any mandatory special period contributions. Instead you would become a standard member subject to the terms of the unmodified FPS 2006.

Under “automatic enrolment” requirements introduced by the Pensions Act 2008 and which impact on all UK employers, the authority has to periodically re-enrol optants-out back into a pension scheme. This would currently be the unmodified FPS 2006. (You would have the right to opt out again if you wish.) However, depending on age, they may only be eligible to join the FPS 2015 scheme.

It would be advisable to seek independent financial advice if you were thinking about opting out of the FPS.

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