Some key pointers for looking after your pension.
- Check your pensions records. Make sure they are accurate. Remember to nominate (or to change your nomination of) someone to receive the death benefit after you die, unless it is going to a surviving spouse.
- Check how much pension you will need and how well you have provided for any dependants. You may need to adjust your provision through Additional Pension Benefit, AVCs or a stakeholder scheme. The rules for widow(er)'s pensions are complex, and members are sometimes disappointed when they obtain this information - your pension scheme can provide an estimate of the pension payable in the event of your death
- Check your state pension entitlement. Get form BR19 from your local benefits office or phone 08457 31 32 33.
- Claim your pension from your scheme - try to apply at least three months in advance of the date you intend to retire. You need to complete the correct form available from your employer or your scheme's website. You can check your entitlement and obtain information on related matters from your pension scheme.
- Remember - this is your last chance to purchase Additional pension Benefit or to allocate your pension.
- Do you want to convert your AVC (additional voluntary contribution) fund to an annuity? You don't need to do this immediately - you can do it at any time up to the age of 75. And you don't have to buy an annuity from the Prudential - there is an open market option. If you might qualify for an 'impaired life' annuity because of your health, it is especially beneficial to shop around. You could also get a rebate by buying your annuity through a broker working on a fees-only basis - the savings can be considerable. From April 2015 you will be able to take all the fund as a lump sum, in TPS 25% will be tax free and the rest will be a marginal tax rate. Or if you have a pension of £12,000 or more it could be taken as 'draw down'.
- You can still teach part-time and contribute again to the Teachers' Pension Scheme after you have retired - you may even be able to teach full-time if your pension plus your salary does not come to more than the final salary on which your pension is based. (But, if you have retired on ill-health on or after 1 April 1997 you cannot teach again in a school or college covered by the Teachers' Pension Scheme.)
- Flexible retirement: You can draw up to 75% of your pension and continue to work if you reduce your earnings by 20% in TPS in USS you can draw 80% of your pension but must take a drop of 20% in earnings and hours. The remaining service is added to any new service.
- If you are leaving teaching, but not retiring, your pension scheme can tell you about opportunities to transfer your benefits to another scheme, or to pay contributions during a period of absence. Ask for a benefit statement to check their records - tell them your national insurance or teachers' reference number.
- If you want to check on any preserved benefits you may have with previous employers outside your scheme, contact the Pension Tracing Service, The Pension Service, Whitley Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA, 08456 002 537, www.thepensionservice.gov.uk.
- You can get an estimate of your state retirement benefits by completing form BR19, available from local benefits offices - you can phone through your completed form on 0191 218 7585.
- Don't forget to inform UCU's membership department. As a retired member you can continue to enjoy many UCU as well as the opportunity to take part in activities in your region.