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This guide covers pension payments under the Armed Forces occupational pension schemes. 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.
Most veterans will either be receiving a pension or will be waiting to receive a pension at a certain age. If you're an ex-service person and are not receiving a pension, you could have an unclaimed pension.
The detail of how much pension will be paid, and when it will be paid, depends on which scheme you are on. There are currently three pension schemes for members of the Regular Armed Forces:
Personnel aged 48 or over on 1 April 2015 stayed in their 'old' scheme but everybody else was transferred to AFPS 15. Some pensions will comprise a combination of pensions under more than one scheme.
Veterans UK are responsible for Armed Forces pensions. If you're unsure what scheme you're on, or how much you're owed, contact them on 0800 085 3600.
Not everyone will receive a pension. Since April 1988 personnel had to give 2 years' service to qualify for benefits, but only service after ages of 18 counted (21 for officers). Before April 1988, qualifying rules changed several times.
When can I claim?
If you are unable to work full time due to physical or mental ill-health, you can claim your pension early. Normal pension ages are as follows:
Following the death of a service person, spouses, civil partners and dependants can claim benefits from the pension scheme of the deceased. The death does not have to be related to service.
All three schemes offer spouse and civil partner pensions, although the rules can be complicated when 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 the more modern schemes, this marriage requirement does not exist, but there are age, education and infirmity stipulations.
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.
If you have specific questions about your pension entitlement you (or your representative) can email The Forces Pensions Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.