Most of us are encouraged to commence or join a pension scheme at the earliest opportunity. 

This is good advice, with those at or approaching Pension age strongly endorsing such a view. However, with a more mobile workforce, what happens to my pension should I leave employment is a question being asked on a more frequent basis. 

If you are leaving employment and were a member of an occupational pension scheme, you may have a number of decisions to make regarding your accumulated pension benefits. 

This piece outlines the decisions that you may be faced with and discusses your options. As always when dealing with pension issues, seek professional advice and make informed decisions.

Members’ pension rights – Leaving service benefit options statement 

On leaving service, you are entitled to your Leaving Service Benefit Options regarding what you can and cannot do with your accumulated pension funds. 

You will receive this statement from the pension Scheme administrators/advisors which may be a number of weeks/months after the date you leave service. Within this statement it will break your entitlements/options into two categories, based upon your period of Scheme membership:

More than 2 years of pensionable service: 

If you have more than two years pensionable service you will not be entitled to a refund of your personal contributions. However, you will be entitled to choose between:

(a) Maintaining your benefits with the scheme;

or (b) Transferring your benefits to:

A new employer’s Occupational Pension Scheme;

 A Personal Retirement Bond;

Some individuals may be entitled to transfer to a PRSA. This option is restricted to those with under 15 years of Pensionable service with the employer or connected employer. If the value of your Pension is greater than €10,000 you will be required to pay for a Certificate of Comparison showing the pros and cons of transferring to a PRSA. A Certificate of Comparison can typically cost anything between €500 and €2,000 depending on the circumstances. A Certificate of Comparison is not required if the Pension Scheme is winding up.