Old benefits

For members who joined before 30 September 1996.

What if...

What happens to my pension if I leave service or die?

What happens if I opt out or leave service?

If you opt out or leave service you will no longer be an active member.

You will be entitled to a deferred pension payable at normal pension age. Your pension will be calculated as outlined here.

Deferred pensions receive increases during the period of deferment at the same rate as pensions in payment, including any increases required by legislation. You can ask for your deferred pension to be paid before normal pension age, either because of incapacity or from age 55 onwards.

Payment is subject to agreement by the Trustees and your pension will be reduced for early payment. If you have opted out and are still in service, the agreement of the BBC will also be required. The scale of reductions is set by the BBC and the Trustees at the beginning of each calendar year. In cases of incapacity, the Trustees have discretion to waive some or all of the reduction.

The following percentages are currently in use:

Retirement age 55 56 57 58 59 60
% reduction 24 20 16 11 6 0

Between birthdays the reduction is proportionate.

Instead of being entitled to a deferred pension from the Scheme, you can choose to transfer the value of your Scheme pension to one or more registered pension arrangements in the UK or overseas at any time before your pension starts.  Unless you confirm otherwise, the Scheme Trustees will assume that the purpose of the transfer is to provide defined contribution (DC) benefits under another pension arrangement.  The transfer value will be calculated in line with overriding legal requirements and is designed to represent the actuarial value of your benefits.  Please contact the pension service line for more information.

If you choose to transfer your Scheme pension to a DC arrangement, unless its total value is £30,000 or less on the valuation date, the Scheme Trustees will be required to check that you have received appropriate independent financial advice from a suitable financial adviser approved by the Financial Conduct Authority.  

Different pension providers offer different options in relation to what you can do with flexible benefits, including the option to select an annuity.  Different options have different features, different rates of payment, different charges and different tax implications.

There may be tax implications associated with accessing flexible benefits.  Pension income is taxable and the rate at which income from a pension is taxable depends on the amount of income your receive from your pension and other sources.

Does temporary absence affect my pension?

Unpaid absences in the United Kingdom

Up to three months

Absences expected to last three months or less (other than those due to sickness) are treated as pensionable service, on condition that:

  • contributions are paid by both you and your employer;
  • you do not join another occupational pension scheme; and
  • there is a definite expectation that you will return to work for the BBC or a participating employer.

Recovery of contributions is automatic on your return, with the arrears being spread over six months, subject to Scheme limits on contributions.

More than three months

If your absence is expected to last more than three months, there must be prior agreement to maintain contributions in order for the period of absence to be treated as pensionable service. Both you and your employer and you must agree with the Service Delivery Manager before the absence begins that normal contributions will continue.

The same conditions as for absences of three months or less apply and the period of absence should not last for more than 10 years.

If no prior agreement is recorded, your pensionable service ends when your absence begins. You will be treated as having opted out and will become a life assurance member, with lump sum death benefits reduced to two times the life cover pensionable salary that would have applied but for the absence. In addition, if you become a life assurance member after 31 March 2011, this benefit will be reduced by any lump sum death benefit payable in respect of your deferred pension. Having opted out, you will not be permitted to rejoin the Scheme.

Unpaid absences outside the United Kingdom

If you are no longer tax resident in the United Kingdom you cannot continue to build up benefits in the Scheme. You will be treated as having opted out and will automatically become a life assurance member, with lump sum death benefits limited to two times the pensionable salary that would have been paid but for the absence.

Such absences are best dealt with individually and should be referred to the Service Delivery Manager before they begin.

Sickness absence

All periods of sickness absence are treated as pensionable service. During paid sickness absence, normal contributions are deducted. You will not be expected to make good unpaid contributions if you have a period of unpaid sickness absence.

Family leave

Periods of paid family leave (ie maternity, adoption, paternity or parental support leave) are treated as pensionable service and normal contributions are deducted.

If you want the whole of a period of unpaid family leave to count in full as pensionable service, you will need to complete a form, which you can get from the downloads page. The form needs to be completed and received by the Trustees within three months of your return to work, after which the option lapses. Arrears of contributions will be calculated on your current pensionable salary and must be paid within six months. If you do not make good the arrears, you will be credited with 60% of your unpaid family leave as pensionable service.

Secondments

If you are seconded to work for another, non-participating employer, you can continue to build up pensionable service, on condition that:

  • contributions are paid by the non-participating employer and you during the same Scheme year as the pensionable service is earned;
  • there is a definite expectation that you will return to work for the BBC, or another participating employer;
  • the secondment, in total, does not exceed 10 years; and

the benefits build up using the pensionable salary that you would have received, if you hadn't been seconded.

Additional restrictions may apply if your secondment is to another EU country.

Career breaks

If it is agreed that you can take a career break, you will be treated as having left service. If you are re-employed, you will be eligible to re-join the Scheme as an Old Benefits member provided that you do so at the first possible opportunity (ie immediately you become eligible).

If you re-join Old Benefits, then your pensionable salary will not be greater than it would have been had you not taken a career break.

When planning a career break, you should consider carefully the impact it will have on your pension. Further information is available from the pension service line.

What happens when I die?

Death in service

If you are an active member and die in service, the following benefits are payable:

A lump sum

The Trustees will make a lump sum payment, which is currently free of inheritance tax. It will be equal to the lesser of four times your life cover pensionable salary as at the date of your death, together with the total of your own contributions paid to the Scheme with interest, and your remaining Lifetime Allowance. The Trustees have discretion over who receives the cash and in what proportion. They take into account, but cannot be bound by, your wishes. You are therefore asked to let the Trustees know your choice of beneficiaries by keeping your expression of wish form up to date. If your circumstances change, a new form is available from the pension service line.

You should read the note 'BBC Pension Scheme death in service provisions' for more information. The note is available from the pension service line.

If the lump sum is restricted because of the Lifetime Allowance, the balance will be used to provide additional pension for your dependants.

A dependant's pension

Your qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner will receive a dependant's pension calculated as follows:

  • It will be two thirds the pension you would have received had you remained in pensionable service until normal pension age, but based on your final pensionable salary at the date of your death.
  • If you have no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner, your nominated dependant will receive a pension. A pension paid to a nominated dependant will be halved while any children's pension is payable and reduced by any GMP payable to a widow, widower or civil partner.

Example:

Janet dies at age 45 with 15 years' pensionable service. She therefore has a further 15 years' potential pensionable service to normal pension age. Her final pensionable salary at the date of death is £30,000.

The dependant's pension is: 30/60 x £30,000 x 2/3 = £10,000 pa

Children' pensions

Your qualifying children will receive, between them, a pension equal to a third of the pension you would have received had you remained in pensionable service until normal pension age, but based on your final pensionable salary at the date of your death. If no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner's pension is payable, the children's pensions will be doubled (subject to a combined maximum of the pension you would have received less any GMP payable).

Death before your deferred pension starts

If you die and have a deferred pension, the following benefits are payable:

A dependant's pension

Your qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner will receive a dependant's pension calculated as follows:

It will be two thirds of the pension you would have received if you had taken it immediately before the date of your death (ignoring any reduction there would have been for early payment).

If you have no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner, your nominated dependant will receive a pension. A pension paid to a nominated dependant will be halved while any children's pension is payable and reduced by any GMP payable to a widow, widower or civil partner.

Your qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner can choose to take a lump sum cash payment instead of a pension. This option must be exercised within 90 days, after which it lapses. The lump sum will be equal to your own contributions, with interest, less the amount needed to secure a guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) for your widow(er) or civil partner.

Children's pensions

Your qualifying children will receive, between them, a third of the deferred pension. If no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner's pension is payable, the children's pensions will be doubled.

A lump sum

If no pensions are payable, the Trustees will make a lump sum payment, which is currently free of inheritance tax. It will be equal to five times your deferred pension, with increases to the date of your death.

The Trustees have discretion over who receives the cash and in what proportion. They take into account, but cannot be bound by, your wishes. You are therefore asked to let the Trustees know your choice of beneficiaries by keeping your expression of wish form up to date.

Death after your pension starts

Your pension is payable for life. On your death, providing you have not taken the partial refund of contributions, the following benefits are payable:

A dependant's pension

Your qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner will receive a dependant's pension. It will be two-thirds of your full pension with increases to the date of your death.

If you have no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner, your nominated dependant will receive a pension. A pension paid to a nominated dependant will be halved while any children's pension is payable and reduced by any GMP payable to a widow, widower or civil partner.

Example:

John retires at age 60. His annual pension is £12,000. He exchanges some of his pension for a cash lump sum and receives a lower pension. He nominates his partner, Janet, as his dependant.

Following John's death, Janet will receive a pension of £8,000 pa for the rest of her life.

(This example assumes that there is no widow's GMP payable, that Janet is not more than 10 years younger than John and there is no children's pension to be paid)

Children's pensions

Your qualifying children will receive, between them, a pension equal to a third of your full pension. If there is no qualifying spouse or qualifying civil partner's pension is payable, the children's pensions will be doubled.

A lump sum

If you die within five years of your pension starting the Trustees will make a lump sum payment. It will be equal to the pension payments you would have received for the remainder of the five years at the rate payable immediately before your death, ignoring the levelling adjustment.

Alternatively, if you are receiving a incapacity pension and die any time before normal pension age, the Trustees will make a lump sum payment. It will be equal to four times your pensionable salary (ignoring the earnings cap) as at the date you left service, less any cash you took in exchange for pension (see Commutation.)

Lump sum payments are currently free of inheritance tax. The Trustees have discretion over who receives the cash and in what proportion. They take into account, but cannot be bound by, your wishes. You are therefore asked to let the trustees know your choice of beneficiaries by keeping your expression of wish form up to date.

Divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership

Pension rights may be taken into account on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. The court can order your pension to be divided between you and your ex-partner (ie your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner), although whether this happens depends on the terms of the settlement.

Couples can choose to offset pension rights against other assets (e.g. the family home) or 'earmark' some (or all) of a member's benefits to go direct to your ex-partner when they come into payment. Alternatively, pension rights can be 'shared' as part of a 'clean' settlement. Pension sharing creates a 'pension credit' for the ex-partner and a corresponding 'pension debit' for the member.

The scheme's current policy is to use a pension credit to make a transfer payment to another pension scheme that will provide retirement benefits for the ex-partner. Scheme membership is not offered to an ex-partner.

The scheme makes a charge for:

  • providing information in connection with divorce proceedings, over and above that which it has a duty to provide free of charge under the existing statutory disclosure requirements;
  • compliance with a pension sharing order or agreement; and
  • any other activities in connection with pension sharing.

A more detailed explanation of pension sharing, how the scheme operates a pension sharing order or agreement, and a schedule of its charges are available from the pension service line.

You should consult and be guided by a suitably qualified family law practitioner on matters relating to divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership