Frequently Asked Questions

 

We want you to get the most from your Fund benefits, but we understand the world of pensions can be challenging and full of jargon.

Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section is here to help you understand your pension benefits, how to get the most from them and support you in making the right choices for your needs.  

 

Joining the Fund

This is up to the employer, but generally speaking most new entrants to the Force are contractually enrolled in to the Fund.

First and foremost, you are actively saving for your future. As well as the benefit of getting a pension for life when you retire, there are many other benefits: 
 

  • You can choose to take a tax-free lump sum on retirement.

     

  • The cost of providing your pension benefits is shared between you and your employer.

     

  • The contributions you pay in are deducted before income tax is calculated, so it is a tax-efficient way of saving.

     

  • You can choose to pay extra contributions, called Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), to top up your benefits.

     

  • You may be eligible for an incapacity pension if you have to give up your job due to ill-health.

     

  • A death in service lump sum may be payable to your beneficiaries (remember to complete or update your nominations so the Trustee is aware about who you would like them paid to - you can nominate when you log into your myFund account).

     

  • Dependants (usually spouses, partners and/or children) may also get a pension when you die.

Follow these simple steps to get the most from your pension.
 

  1. Register for a myFund account. Your myFund account allows you to check the value of your benefits, learn about your options and manage your AVC account (if you have one).


  2. Complete your Nominations. It’s vital that the Management Committee knows who you would like any lump sum death benefits paid to if you die before taking your pension from the Fund (or within five years of claiming it). You can check and change your nominations at any time in your myFund account.

  3. Consider paying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) through BRASS or AVC Extra (check your member guide to see the options available to you). It’s a tax-efficient way to save more. You can find out which investment funds are available and learn more in the BRASS and AVC Extra areas of the website.

Active members

The cost of providing your pension benefits is shared between you and your employer through the contributions you both make.

 You typically pay 40% of the cost of providing benefits and your employer pays 60%. You do not pay tax on your Fund contributions (subject to certain limits) as they are taken from your salary before tax is deducted. 

The contribution percentages for each section of the Fund are as follows: 

Section Member rate Employer rate
1970 16% 24%
2007 12% 18%
CARE 10% 15%

NB: 1970 Section contributions are based on Pensionable Salary minus 1.5 times the basic state pension. 2007 and CARE Sections’ contributions are based on Pensionable Salary.

Your NRA is the age from which you can take your full pension benefits without any reduction factors applied for early retirement. You may be able to take your benefits earlier than your NRA, but they will be reduced depending on how early you take them. 

The table below shows when members of each Section can take their benefits without any reductions. 

1970 Section
  • 55. However, if you were an active member of the Fund on 5 April 2006 and have not opted-out of the Fund, you can take unreduced (?) benefits from age 50 if you have 30 years’ membership of the Fund.
2007 Section
  • 55 if taking benefits immediately upon leaving service. 
  • 65 if taking benefits from preserved status.
CARE Section
  • 60 if taking benefits immediately upon leaving service.
  • 65 if taking benefits from preserved status.

 

The Fund’s death benefits include a pension for an eligible spouse or another adult who was financially dependent on you when you died. Pensions can also be paid to eligible children. You should refer to your member guide for more information.  

There is also a lump-sum death benefit of four times your final salary. This is payable to beneficiaries at the discretion of the Management Committee. You should complete a nomination so that the Management Committee knows who you would like the lump sum to go to. 

You can nominate quickly and easily online by logging into your myFund account.

If you're unable to nominate online, you can download a form to complete and return to the Fund's administrator, RPMI.

If you are in BRASS and/or AVC Extra, you must take​ those benefits at the same time as your Fund pension benefits, or transfer them to another arrangement.

Your benefits estimate will include your BRASS benefits.

AVC Extra provides benefits in a different way to BRASS, so you will receive a separate estimate of your AVC Extra benefits when you request an estimate of your Fund benefits.

‘Pension Plus’ is BTP’s salary sacrifice scheme. It means that your pension contributions are made in a way that costs less for you, while not affecting your pension benefits in any way. 

Put simply, you give up (or ‘sacrifice’) an amount of your salary equivalent to your annual pension contributions. In return, your employer pays those contributions on your behalf. This means your National Insurance contributions go down, but pension benefits are not affected. 

Speak to your employer about applying for Pension Plus.

You will continue to be a Fund member, but your contributions might change during your period of leave as they are based on your actual earnings. However the benefits you continue to earn whilst you are on parental leave continue to be based on your normal salary.

If your pay reduces to nil, your employer will continue to pay contributions on your behalf, but you will need to pay these back to your employer when you return to work. 

If you pay Additional Voluntary Contributions, they will continue as normal unless you decide to change or stop your contributions during this time.

You will be treated as though you have left the Fund and you will have to pay any contribution arrears owed to your employer. If you can’t do so, your employer can request that the arrears are taken from your pension benefits.

You will need to check with your employer about continuing membership of the Fund whilst you are on a career break. You may be able to ‘pause’ your membership, so you don’t accrue any membership during your break but you are not treated as leaving the Fund. You would not need to make contributions whilst you are away from work.

If you face divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, your pension is likely to be considered along with your other assets when a financial settlement is worked out.

A court order can be made during the proceedings to transfer part of the value of your pension benefits to your ex-spouse/partner.

Read more in your guide on divorce and dissolution.

You can apply for an incapacity pension if: 

  • you have at least five years’ membership in the Fund (including any membership transferred-in); and
  • ​you are unable to perform the duties of a Police Officer, due to a medical condition which is more than temporary.

Your application, including medical evidence, will be considered by the Management Committee. A medical adviser is always present to assist the Committee. If your application is approved, you may also receive an additional period of membership to increase your pension. Read our Incapacity Benefits guide.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) allows contributions paid into registered pension schemes to benefit from tax relief. The benefits paid out of such schemes can include a pension, which is taxable and a lump sum which is paid tax-free (up to a limit). 

Recycling occurs where a pension scheme member intentionally uses some or all of the tax-free lump sum that they receive from a pension scheme to significantly increase their contributions to another (or the same) pension scheme, in order to gain further tax relief and further entitlement to a tax-free lump sum. 

It doesn’t matter if the tax-free lump sum is directly or indirectly reinvested into a pension scheme – this is still classed as recycling. An example of indirectly reinvesting the tax-free lump sum is to use your personal savings to significantly increase your contributions to a pension scheme, and replenish these savings with the tax-free lump sum. 

Under HMRC rules, a tax-free lump sum must not be used in a way which exploits the generous tax relief available by ‘recycling’ the tax-free lump sum received.  These rules apply to UK and non-UK residents, and to individuals making contributions into overseas pension schemes. 

If HMRC finds that recycling has occurred, it will impose tax charges on the member and possibly the scheme too. 

Members of the Fund are reminded of the rules prohibiting recycling when they apply for retirement and when they ask to make a one-off additional voluntary contribution to BRASS or AVC Extra. 

More information can be found by searching for 'pension scheme recycling' or at on the Gov.uk website

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

AVCs are a tax-efficient way for Fund members to save a bit more towards their retirement. They are paid on top of your normal Fund contributions.

They are paid on top of normal contributions and you choose where they are invested, from a range of funds selected by the Trustee.
 
The Fund's AVC arrangements are BRASS (for 1970 members only) and AVC Extra (for 2007 Section and CARE members, as well as 1970 Section members who are paying the maximum into BRASS).

 

Annual and Lifetime Allowances

The Annual Allowance (AA) is a limit on the amount of your pension savings that can benefit from tax relief in any given tax year. If you exceed this limit, you will be charged tax on your pension savings that are over the AA. 

The most that you can save tax-free towards all your pension arrangements is the lower of 100% of your earnings over that period and the AA.

For most people, the AA is currently £40,000 (although this could change in the future), however, it will be lower if your ‘adjusted income’ is over £150,000. This reduced allowance is known as the ‘Tapered Annual Allowance’.

For this purpose, your ’adjusted income’ is your taxable income plus your level of pension savings for AA purposes (called your ‘Pension Input Amount’).

You can learn more about pension tax allowances at www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension

  • You may be affected if your taxable income is more than £200,000 (this includes income from non-employment sources). If your taxable income is £200,000 or less, you will not be affected by the Tapered Annual Allowance.
  • If you have an adjusted income over £240,000, then your Annual Allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 of adjusted income over £240,000.
  • The maximum reduction to the Annual Allowance is £36,000, so if you have an adjusted income of £312,000 or more, you will have an Annual Allowance of £4,000.

Find out more in our Tax Limits guide.

You could be affected by this tax limit if you take money from your Additional Voluntary Contributions or any other defined contribution pensions you may have, while you're still paying in.

You can find out more in our Tax Limits guide.

You can learn more about pension tax allowances at www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension

The LTA is the maximum amount you can save into all your pensions throughout your working life.

If you exceed the LTA - which currently stands at  £1,073,100 for the 2020/21 tax year​ - you may be liable for an excess tax charge.

You can learn more about pension tax allowances at www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension

 

In general, if the value of all your pension savings and benefits (from every scheme you are a member of) at the time you take your benefits exceeds the ​Lifetime Allowance for that tax year, then the value of your savings and benefits above the ​Lifetime Allowance will be subject to additional tax charges.

You can learn more about pension tax allowance at www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension

Opting out of the Fund

If you want to opt-out you should contact the RPMI Helpline on 0800 012 1117 or email csu@rpmi.co.uk to request an opt-out pack. You should have your pension reference number or National Insurance number handy. 

RPMI will then send you an opt-out pack on behalf of the Trustee. It is strongly recommended that you thoroughly read the information supplied with the pack. If you still wish to opt-out, complete the form and return it to RPMI. 

If you have less than two years’ membership in the Fund (including any membership you have transferred-in), you can choose whether you receive a refund of your contributions (less tax) or a transfer value to another pension arrangement. You cannot have a refund of contributions if you have transferred in any benefits from a money purchase arrangement. 

If you have over two years' membership when you opt-out, or if you have transferred in any benefits from a money purchase arrangement, you cannot have a refund of your contributions. Instead you will become a ‘preserved’ member of the Fund. Your benefits will stay in the Fund until you are ready to claim them or transfer them out to another pension arrangement. 

It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before deciding to opt-out of an occupational pension scheme. A list of independent financial advisers in your area can be found at Unbiased.co.uk.

Preserved members

No, once you leave your employment you must stop contributing to the Fund.

The benefits you’ve earned while you have been a member of the Fund will be ‘preserved’ until you reach your Normal Retirement Age (this is age 55 for preserved members of the 1970 Section, and 65 for preserved members of the 2007 Section and CARE ​​members). 

Your benefits will increase in line with inflation each year so they keep their value. 

  • If inflation is positive, your benefits will be increased by the corresponding percentage.
  • If inflation is zero, your pension will not increase; it will stay the same.
  • If inflation is negative, your pension will not decrease; it will stay the same.

Yes, and we would really encourage you to do so! 

Keeping your nominations up to date is just as important as when you were an active member so the Management Committee knows who you'd like any death benefits paid to if you die before claiming your pension (or within 5 years of taking it). You can nominate online quickly and easily by logging into your myFund account.

If you are unable to nominate online, you can download a form from the Forms section.

 

 

You may be able to apply to take your pension benefits early, from age 55 for most members or 50 for some members of the 1970 Section. However they will be reduced depending on how long you retire before your Normal Retirement Age.

You can get a free online estimate of your early retirement benefits by logging into your myFund account and selecting 'Request an estimate' under 'My Pension'

Yes, you are able to transfer your preserved benefits to the scheme of your new employer or to a personal pension arrangement. However please think very carefully before you transfer your benefits out of the Fund.

You should carefully consider your long-term financial position and compare the benefits of your BTP pension with those offered by alternative pension arrangements.

If you want to transfer your pension, we strongly recommend you get independent financial advice. If you are considering transferring your BTP benefits to a defined contribution arrangement, depending on the size of your transfer value, getting financial advice may be a legal requirement.

You would need to contact an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for this. You can find IFAs in your local area at Unbiased.co.uk.

Important: Some scams are singling out pension scheme members and claiming that they can help cash in your pension early. Please learn how to avoid becoming a victim of scams.

You can only apply for ill health retirement benefits if you leave service due to ill health. If you subsequently become ill having left service, you are not able to apply for an ill health pension.

You can apply to take your benefits early (see 'Can I take my pension benefits early?' question ).

Retired members

Your pension will paid, in arrears, every four weeks.

You can keep track of your payment dates using the pension payment calendar.

Yes, your pension is taxable like any other income and is taxed using the Pay As You Earn system. However, if your annual pension, plus any other income you may have, is less than your personal allowance, you will not pay any tax.

Tax is taken from your pension payment before you receive it, based on the tax code supplied to RPMI by the Tax Office. Any enquiries about your tax code should be made directly to your appropriate Tax Office.

This is probably because we have been instructed by HMRC to change your tax code. For further information and questions about your income tax assessment, please contact HMRC by calling: 0300 200 3300 or write to: Pay As You Earn and Self Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS, United Kingdom

 See gov.uk/check-income-tax-current-year for more details.

After the end of the tax year in April, RPMI will send you a P60 Form. The P60 confirms your final tax code for the year and gives details for the tax year that has just ended. This includes:  

  • your pension and/or earnings
  • ​the amount of tax deducted
  • National Insurance contributions paid by you and your employer (you won’t pay any on your pension); and,
  • your final tax code 

Your P60 is important. You need to keep it for at least two years in case you’re asked to complete a tax return (it may help you with other forms too).

You can update your bank account details by logging into your myFund account and selecting 'Payment Details' in the 'My Details' section.

Alternatively,  you can let us know of a change of address, by emailing the Helpline at csu@rpmi.co.uk or calling 0800 012 1117. When contacting RPMI, please have your pension reference number to hand.

RPMI processes pension payrolls approximately two weeks before the payment date. Therefore if you change your bank or building society account, you should let RPMI have the details of your new account at least two weeks before your pension is due to be paid. 

If you are unable to give two weeks' notice then please make sure you keep your old bank account open to avoid any delay in your pension reaching you.

We all want to make sure our loved ones are looked after. When you die your eligible spouse or civil partner will be paid half of your normal pension.  

Your normal pension is the basic pension on the day you took payment of your benefits. This will be increased by any pension increases which have been made since that time. 

Your normal pension does not include any voluntary reduction of your pension which you chose at the time you retired, such as exchanging pension for extra cash or taking the level pension option.

Making a complaint

The Fund has a two-stage Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure for considering complaints and disagreements.

If you have a complaint, you should first write to: Head of Rail Administration, RPMI, PO Box 300, Darlington, DL3 6YJ. 

Your complaint will be carefully considered and you will receive a reply within two months.

If you are not satisfied with the reply, you can ask for your complaint to be referred to the Management Committee. You must do this within six months of receiving the reply. The Management Committee will consider your complaint and contact you within two months.

If you are not satisfied with the reply to your complaint, you can take the matter to The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS).

TPAS is an independent voluntary organisation with local advisers who are experts in pension matters. You can contact TPAS at any time to help you, or your dependants, with any difficulties you may have with your pension, or problems that you have not managed to resolve with us.

You can learn more about TPAS at pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk