The Teachers’ Pensions etc. (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (2019/1134) passed through Parliament on 17th July, and most of the effects of this came into action on September 1st 2019. The amendments are primarily a consequence of two Supreme Court decisions that ruled specific pre-existing regulations to be discriminative. Therefore, these regulations were in contradiction with the equalities legislation held on the statute books.
As well as amendments made to regulations to account for these issues, there were also some other minor changes brought about by this government action. Here we lay out the six main effects on your pension.
The amendments allow for benefits to surviving same-sex civil partner or spouse to reflect those payable to a widow within an opposite-sex marriage. Although this was always the case for those in pensionable service from April 1988, it has been extended to those in service from the 1st April 1972. As with all the amendments made, you may wish to contact the Teachers Pension Scheme, or an independent financial advisor, to understand the consequences of this for you individually.
There will be no change to automatic service counting towards your widower benefits. A male survivor of a female member who was in an opposite-sex marriage will continue to be treated based on automatic cover for service from 6th April 1988.
Issues relating to opposite-sex civil partnerships were not considered as part of this change to the regulations. Any changes here will be amended at a later date. The policy is to allow adult survivor benefits of those in civil partnerships to reflect the provision enjoyed by those in opposite-sex marriages.
Declaration of Dependents
There is no longer a requirement to complete a nomination form for pension benefits for dependents or an interdependent partner. It is worth noting, however, that a surviving beneficiary, such as a brother or sister, loses out if the criteria for a surviving partner exists. The Teacher Pension Scheme offers more extensive advice on qualifying partners.
Pension Protection Lump-Sum Death Benefits
Members who are subject to Lifetime Allowance charges, can now elect for a pension protection lump-sum death benefit. This is a tax issue – and one that does not impact on many members. Higher earners are most likely to exceed the Lifetime Allowance – and therefore may make this choice.
There have been changes to the suitability of specific medical evidence when seeking ill-health retirement. The amendment confirms the policy of using medical reports to test eligibility – which must be dated within 18 months of the application.
The content in this article was correct on 22nd October 2019. You should not rely on this article to make important financial decisions. Teachers Financial Planning offers advice on your Teachers’ Pension Scheme. Please use the contact form below to arrange an informal chat with an advisor and see how we can help you.