Circular 15/2016 was issued by my Department on 27 April 2016 to give guidance on the operation of Section 52 subsections (6) and (7) of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and other Provisions) Act 2012, which imposes a limit, or ‘benefit cap’, on the total amount of pension benefits that can accrue where an individual has been a member of more than one public service pension scheme.
Subject to a number of conditions, Circular 15/2016 provided that public servants subject to the benefit cap could choose the ‘most financially beneficial combination of service’ across the various pension schemes of which they were a member. This meant that, where it could be reasonably facilitated, an employer processing a retirement application might allow a retiree to forego less valuable pension service so that more valuable service (within the overall allowable limit) might be availed of. Where a pension had already come into payment, the member would make an appropriate recoupment to the relevant pension scheme.
As a result of a number of issues that have arisen in relation to the benefit cap and implementation of Circular 15/2016, my Department has carried out a review into the operation of those provisions. As part of the review, further legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General has been sought. Once that advice has been received, new/revised guidance will be developed and issued as appropriate. At that stage, public service employers and pension administrators will be in a position to consider the implications for the pension entitlements of affected individuals under their pension schemes, and to communicate with those individuals accordingly.