Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Public Servants should consider retiring now

I recently looked at a pension projection for a 61 year old hospital consultant, working for a HSE hospital. The projection gave him details of his pension and lump sum from the superannuation scheme should he retire now, as well as the projected figures if he stays to age 65.

The twist, however, is the fact that the projections take no account of the 15% salary reduction to which he will be subjected, as a result of Budget 2010. Because public service pensions are based on a percantage of final salary, if your salary is reduced by 15%, your pension will be also.

But in the Budget, a window of opportunity was provided. "To ensure that any increase in the number of retirements can be managed, the legislation on pay reductions in the public service will provide that any retirements in 2010 would be on existing, pre-cut pay terms." So any Public Servant retiring in 2010 will have their pension based on 2009 salary level.

Given that Public Service pensions accrue at a rate of 1/80 or 1.25% of final salary for each year of service, a higher earner facing a pay cut of 15% would take 12 years to build up the lost pension entitlement, unless pay increases come back into fashion during that period. Someone facing a pay cut of 8% would take over 6 years to build up the lost pension entitlement.

So if you're a Public Servant and within sight of pension age, you might do well to consider retiring now. Which is presumably a deliberate move by the Minister.