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As a veteran you may either be receiving a service pension, or waiting to receive it once you reach a certain age. How much that pension is, and when it is paid, depends on the pension scheme to which you have been assigned.
If you're not receiving any money you may also have an unclaimed pension.
*Please be aware that the pension rules that apply to you are those in force at the time of your discharge.*
There are three main pension schemes:
- Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (AFPS 75):
Closed to new entrants on 5 April 2005. Paid service after age 18, for other ranks, counts towards pension (21 for officers). Claim at age 60 for benefits earned up to and including 5 April 2006, and age 65 for earnings after that date.
- Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (AFPS 05):
All new entrants on or after 6 April 2005 joined this scheme. All paid service counts towards pension. Claim age 65 or age 55 at a reduced rate.
- Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015 (AFPS 15):
All new entrants on or after 1 April 2015 joined this scheme. All paid service counts towards pension. Claim at your state pension age, or age 55 at a reduced rate.Serving personnel aged 45 or over on 1 April 2012 remain in their 'old' scheme but anyone else has been transferred to AFPS 15.
Minimum service to qualify for AFPS 75:
- 1 April 1975 - 31 March 1978 - at least 5 years reckonable service* AND at least age 26 on discharge.
- 1 April 1978 - 5 April 1983 - 5 years reckonable service.
- 6 April 1983 - 5 April 1988 - 5 years paid service.
- 6 April 1988 onwards - 2 years reckonable service* after age 18 as an Other Rank (after age 21 as an Officer).
National Insurance Modifications will be applied to pensions earned before 1 April 1980.
*Reckonable service is service after age 18 as an Other Rank (after age 21 as an Officer) in these cases.
Minimum service to qualify for AFPS 05 and AFPS 15:
- 2 years reckonable service, with no minimum age requirement.
Can I claim early?
If you are unable to work full time due to physical or mental ill-health, you can apply to receive your pension early. And if you left the Armed Forces following injury or disability due to service, find out more about War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or in Scotland
What about dependants?
Spouses, civil partners and dependants may be entitled to benefits from the pension scheme of a deceased service person. The death need not be related to service.
All three schemes offer spouse and civil partner pensions to those who meet the criteria. The rules may be more complicated if marriages or civil partnerships took place after leaving service. Only AFPS 05 and AFPS 15 provide pensions to unmarried partners.
To qualify for an AFPS 75 children's pension, the child must be born of a marriage which took place before leaving the Armed Forces. For more recent schemes, this marriage requirement does not exist, but there are age, education and infirmity stipulations for all schemes.
What is commutation/inverse commutation?
Commutation refers to giving up part of your pension in return for a lump sum:
- AFPS 75 provides an automatic tax free pension lump sum of three times the pension.
- AFPS 05 provides an automatic tax free pension lump sum of three times the pension. It is open to the member to give up some or all of the tax free lump sum in order to improve their taxable pension. This is called inverse commutation.
- AFPS 15 does not provide an automatic pension lump sum but the member can surrender up to 25% of the value of the pension pot in order to generate one. This is called commutation.
Who can help me with my pension queries?
If you're unsure what scheme you're in (and you may be in more than one) you can check by contacting Veterans UK on 0800 085 3600 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to have your service number to hand.
See more general information in the Forces Pensions Society pensions explained section.