The Underpin

When the scheme changed on 1 April 2014 an additional protection was put in place if you were within 10 years of your normal retirement age (in most cases age 65) on 1 April 2012. This is to ensure that you will get a pension at least equal to that which you would have received in the scheme had it not changed on 1 April 2014. This protection is known as the underpin.

The underpin applies to you if you:

  • were an active member on 31 March 2012
  • were within 10 years of your protected Normal Pension Age on 1 April 2012 (usually 65)
  • haven't had a continuous break in active membership of a public service pension scheme of more than 5 years (after 31 March 2012)
  • you haven't taken any benefits in the career average LGPS scheme before the date the underpin calculation is performed - this is the earlier of the date you leave the scheme or your protected Normal Pension Age.

The underpin can also apply if you were an active member of another public service pension scheme on 31 March 2012 and you then join the LGPS and transfer your pension benefits from the other public service pension scheme into the career average LGPS scheme and all or part of that transfer buys final salary benefits in the LGPS. The underpin will apply in these circumstances if:

  • there is a break of less than 5 years between you leaving the public service pension scheme from which the transfer is received and joining the LGPS
  • you were within 10 years of age 65 on 1 April 2012
  • you haven't had a continuous break in active membership of a public service pension scheme of more than 5 years (after 31 March 2012)
  • you haven't taken any benefits in the career average LGPS scheme before the date the underpin calculation is performed - this is the earlier of the date you leave the scheme or age 65

The underpin will not apply if any of the circumstances below apply:

  • you leave without an immediate entitlement to benefits
  • if you elect to opt out of the scheme before your protected Normal Pension Age (age 65 for almost all)
  • if you leave the scheme with a deferred benefit and, at the date of leaving, you would have required your employer's consent to take payment of those benefits under the pre 1 April 2014 scheme
  • if, other than flexible retirement, you voluntarily draw benefits from an age where you would have required your employer's consent to do so under the pre 1 April 2014 scheme

From 14 May 2018, you normally need your employer's consent to take payment of your benefits in the pre 1 April 2014 scheme before age 55. Before 14 May 2018, you needed your employer's consent to take payment of your benefits in the pre 1 April 2014 scheme before age 60.

If you are covered by the underpin a calculation will be performed at the date you cease to contribute to the Scheme, or at your protected Normal Pension Age if earlier, to check that the pension you have built up (or, if you have been in the 50/50 section of the scheme at any time, the pension you would have built up had you always been in the main section of the scheme) is at least equal to that which you would have received had the scheme not changed on 1 April 2014. If it isn't, the difference will be added into your pension account when you draw your benefits.

Your Pension Fund administrator will carry out this underpin check if you meet the criteria above.