When to retire

Find out when you can start taking your defined benefit (DB) pension.


Use the options below to read more about the different times you can start taking your pension, as well as a couple of other things you might want to consider.


Normal retirement

This is usually between 60 and 65 years old, depending on the section of the Scheme you’re a member of and its Normal Retirement Age (NRA).

Once you’ve reached your NRA, you’ll get an income that is based primarily on your salary and membership.

There will be no reduction in the benefits you receive at normal retirement, unlike with other types of retirement, including some of those listed below.

Log in to myRPS to find your NRA. You can do this by: 

  • Checking your NRA in your Member Guide. This is available in 'my library' once you log in or
  • Finding your normal retirement date. This is listed under membership details once you log in. 

Your NRA is likely to be different to the age for claiming your State Pension.  While your NRA is set by the Scheme, the State Pension Age is set by the Government and is based entirely on when you were born. Read the State Pension page for more information. 

Check your State Pension age at Gov.uk.  

Early retirement

You may be able to start taking your pension before you reach you Normal Retirement Age (NRA). This is known as early retirement and is usually allowed for members aged over 55. 

It could also be possible to apply for your pension benefits from age 50 if you have a Protected Pension Age. You can read more about the Protected Pension Age by selecting 'How a Protected Pension Age affects you' form the contents list at the top of this page. 

In early retirement your pension payments are lower than they would be with normal retirement. This is because you’re likely to have longer to live and so the total amount in your pension overall will need to last longer. How much lower your payments are depends on the ‘early retirement factors’ which can be found in your Member Guide. 

Log in to your myRPS account to check your Member Guide.

If you decide to retire early, you will no longer be eligible for:

  • any in-death service lump sum, or
  • ill health benefits

There are also extra restrictions if you want to take your pension early and continue working.

Check the staying in work page for details. 

Late retirement

You can continue paying into the Scheme until after your Normal Retirement Age (NRA), up to age 75. This means you will remain an active member. 

As an active member you will continue to build your pension and will keep all the other benefits of being a member until you leave. Read more on the benefits of my membership page

If you decide to stop paying into the Scheme before taking your pension, you will become a preserved member. 

As a preserved member, you need to take your benefits at your normal retirement age OR, depending upon the rules of your Section,  you may be able to opt to put off taking your pension, up to the age of 75.

In this case, late retirement factors (LRFs) will be applied to increase your benefits when you take them. That's because the Scheme will likely be paying your pension for a shorter period of time. 

Late retirement factors do not apply to active members and you can continue to build up benefits as long as you remain an active member. Please check your Member Guide for more details.

Find your Member Guide in your myRPS account

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Applying for late retirement

If you leave work on or after your NRA, then your application to postpone taking your pension must be received by the Scheme administrator, Railpen, no later than three months after your leaving date. Visit the applying for my pension page for more details. 

If you leave work before your NRA and are a preserved member, you can only apply to postpone taking your benefits within three months of your NRA (either three months before or three months after).

Ill-health retirement

If you have to stop work due to ill health, then you may be able to start taking your pension before your Normal Retirement Age (NRA).

If you have a life expectancy of less than one year, you may also be able to take all your pension as a lump sum. 

Unlike early retirement, ill health retirement does not result in any reduction being applied to your benefits. 

You may also be credited with additional membership, up to a maximum of 10 years.  

You can find more information in the documents below. 

How a Protected Pension Age affects when you can take your pension

If you were an active member of the scheme on 5 April 2006, you may have a Protected Pension Age of 50.  This means you will be able to take your pension as early as 50 years old, rather than 55.

This does not apply if you have:

  • opted out of active membership, or;
  • transferred your benefits since 5 April 2006

If you have a Protected Pension Age of 50 and take your pension before age 55, there are certain restrictions that apply:

  • you must take all your benefits from the RPS (both DB and DC) at the same time
  • you must leave employment before taking your benefits
  • you cannot re-join your most recent employer, or an employer in the same group, within:
    - one month in any role, or;
    - six months in a role which is not ‘materially different’

If you do not stick to these restrictions then you could face a big tax bill.

If you were a member of the Railways Pension Scheme after 5 April 2006 but before 4 November 2021 and were born before 6 April 1973, the earliest you can claim your pension is 55. If you joined as a new entrant on and after 4 November 2021 and were born after 5 April 1973, the earliest you can claim your pension is 57.

Check the Read as You Need guide on Protected Pension Age below for more information. 

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Making the right decision

Here's where you can find more information if you're thinking about when to retire...

The Read as You Need Guide to retirement options will give you an overview of the choices available. 

If you’re unsure which type of retirement will be best for you, you may want to get expert help. Find out more on the guidance and advice page.

Use the steps on the making the right decision page to take stock of your pension to help work out what's best for you. 

If you're not ready to retire then you may still be able to keep working and start taking your pension. Find out more on the staying in work page.

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