Help

If you have questions about your pension, or need support, don't worry – we're here to help.

We've added a selection of frequently-asked questions below and you can find more on the FAQ page.

If you need assistance, and are logged into your myFund account, you can ask a question using the form at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can contact the Helpline at csu@railpen.com or telephone 0800 012 1117.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

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.

 

  • 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.

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.

You could be affected by this tax limit if you take money from your Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) 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, which you'll find in the my pension section when you log into your MyFund account.

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

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, complete and return to the Fund's administrator, Railpen.

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.

 

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

If you exceed the LTA - currently £1,073,100 - you may be liable for an excess tax charge.

In line with the Budget announced in March 2021, the LTA is expected to remain at £1,073,100 until April 2026. 

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

‘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

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, Railpen, 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.

You can find out more about making a complaint and what to do if you're not satisfied with our response through MoneyHelper. It brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. 

 

 

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

Railpen 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 Railpen. 

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.