What will happen in the event of my death?
If you were to die in service as a member of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme, a death grant would be payable. This would normally be two times your pensionable pay as at the date of death or, if you were absent from duty at that time, your pensionable pay immediately before the absence began. If you are working part-time hours the pensionable pay would be the part-time rate. Tax rules prevent the payment of a death grant in respect of a person who has attained age 75 but it is unlikely that a firefighter would still be serving at that age.
The fire and rescue authority would pay the death grant to the firefighter's legal spouse or civil partner provided they were not living apart at the time of death. This means more than a physical separation, e.g. as would be the case if the firefighter was away from home attending a training course; it implies recognition by at least one of the spouses or partners that the marriage or partnership is at an end. If the firefighter was unmarried or "living apart", the death grant would be paid to his/her legal representatives. There is no death grant payable if the firefighter had already left the service, or opted out of the FPS, at the date of death.
When a FPS member dies (whether before or after retirement), if he/she had completed at least two years pensionable service a pension will be paid to a surviving spouse. Provided husband and wife were not living separately the widow(er)'s pension would be:
- In the case of a serving Scheme member – half of the total lower and higher tier ill health pensions to which the firefighter would have been entitled if he/she had retired on health grounds on the date of death;
- In the case of a retired Scheme member where the marriage took place before the member ceased to be a firefighter – half of the former firefighter's pension as calculated before any reduction was made for commutation;
- In the case a firefighter, or former firefighter entitled to a deferred pension which was not in payment at the date of death – half of the deferred pension.
If a FPS member dies (before or after retirement) while in a registered civil partnership, the surviving partner would be entitled to a pension based on similar principles to those set out for a widow(er) on the previous page, but would reflect service from 6th April 1988 only.
For the first 13 weeks following the FPS member's death, the spouse's or civil partner's pension will be topped up to the level of the deceased's pensionable pay (death in service) or the pension in payment (death after pension comes into payment). This top-up would not apply in the case of a deferred pension which had not come into payment at the date of death. If no spouse's or civil partner's pension is payable but a child's pension is due, the top-up would be applied to the child's pension.
If a former firefighter marries after leaving the fire and rescue service the surviving spouse's pension would be assessed as the greater of the following:
pensionable service after 5.4.1978 x 1/160 x firefighter's average pensionable pay
1/2 x service after 5.4.1978 x firefighter's pension total pensionable service
When a FPS member dies (before or after retirement), if he/she had completed at least two years' pensionable service a pension will be paid to an eligible child. The child's eligibility is assessed by dependency on the Scheme member – he/she must have been dependent at the date of death and:
- A child of the FPS member's marriage or civil partnership (where a marriage or civil partnership took place on or before the last day of service),
- An adopted child (where the adoption took place on or before the last day of service),
- A step-child (where on or before the last day of service the firefighter and the child's parent were married or formed a civil partnership and the child was subsequently dependent on the firefighter), or
- Any other child provided the child was substantially dependent on the firefighter both at the last day of service and at the date of death (if different).
Account must also be taken of the child's age:
- If the child is below age 16, the pension will be payable in all cases.
- If the child is age 16 or over and under age 23, the pension will be payable only if the child was in whole-time education or permanently disabled at the date of the member's death and has been since.
- If the child has attained age 23, the pension will be payable only if the child was permanently disabled at the date of the member's death and has been since.
The amount of a child's pension due would depend upon the number of eligible children and whether or not the child or children have a surviving parent.
If a person dies after leaving the service or the FPS, the children would be entitled to a similar percentage, in similar proportions, of the pension in payment (or the deferred pension not yet in payment).