Secondary, Community & Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme

Secondary, Community & Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme

Retirement Options
How to Retire
Calculating your Pension & Lump Sum
Enhancing your Pension
Spouses’ & Children’s Scheme
Frequently Asked Questions


Retirement Options

There are six ways to retire from teaching under this Pension Scheme. Remember, teachers who joined this Pension Schemes before 1st April 2004, and whose service has not been interrupted for a period greater than 26 weeks, are considered “original members” of the Scheme. Teachers who commenced teaching from 1st April 2004 (but before January 2013) are considered “new entrants” to the Scheme.

(i) Compulsory Retirement:        

Original members of the Pension Scheme must retire by the end of the school year in which they reach 70 years of age. New entrants to the Pension Scheme have no compulsory retirement age and may continue to teach as long as they are medically fit to do so.

(ii) Retirement at 60/65:

Original members of the Pension Scheme may usually retire without penalty at any point from their 60th birthday based on their salary and pensionable service at their chosen date of retirement. This facility is available for new entrants to the Pension Scheme from their 65th birthday.

(iii) The 55/35 Scheme:

This option is only available for original members of the Pension Scheme. Such teachers may retire from 55 years of age without penalty providing they have a minimum of 35 years of “actual teaching service” at their date of retirement. The Department of Education & Skills (DES) will include up to two additional years for teacher training when calculating “actual teaching service” and will also treat Job-sharing years as full years for service. Remember, this added service is only for the purposes of qualifying for the 55/35 Scheme and is not used to calculate pension benefits.

(iv) Cost Neutral Early Retirement (CNER):

Available for original scheme members of the Pension Scheme from 50 years of age and from 55 for new entrants. This early release scheme enables teachers to retire even earlier but their pension benefits are actuarially reduced by up to forty percent for the rest of a retired teacher’s life.

(v) Deferred Retirement:

Teachers who resign from teaching at an early age, and have at least 2 years pensionable service, can opt to defer taking their pension benefits until age 60, if an original member of the Pension Scheme, or 65 for new entrants, and so avoid paying penalties for early retirement.

(vi) Medical Retirement:

Teachers under 60 (original members of the Pension Scheme) or 65 years of age (new entrants) whose illness or disability means they are “permanently unfit to return to teaching” may apply for retirement on medical grounds. If granted, pensionable service is enhanced by up to 6 and 2/3rds years and pension benefits are paid immediately without penalty. The continued payment of a pension to a teacher who has retired on medical grounds may be subject to medical review from time to time. In addition, teachers are not permitted to undertake comparable teaching work in retirement.

If you, or someone you know in your staffroom, may be a candidate for medical retirement please call the ASTI as soon as possible for advice. Our specialists can talk a teacher through the arrangements for long-term sick leave and options for medical retirement and assist, where necessary, in the preparation of an application for medical retirement.

More detailed information on medical retirement is available here

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How to Retire

When you are looking to retire there are really three essential things you should do. Firstly, you should apply to the Department of Education & Skills (DES) for an estimate of your pension benefits. Secondly, you should also talk with a pension consultant about any private pension investments you may have made or may wish to make before you retire, as well as advice on your PRSI record. Thirdly, when you have a solid understanding of the income you will be receiving in retirement, then and only then, should you make a formal application to retire from teaching. Deciding to retire from teaching is a momentous step as important as the decision you made to enter the teaching profession in the first place. You should prepare for your decision to retire with the same level of preparation you invested in your decision to join the profession.

Applying for an Estimate of Pension Benefits

It is very important that you apply for an estimate of your pension benefits prior to giving notice of your intention to retire. This estimate will not only provide a detailed projection of your pension benefits, but will also provide a statement of service that you can use to ensure that all of your teaching service has been captured. It will also set out your PRSI record over your teaching career. Finally, the estimate will confirm which pension scheme you are a member of and, hence, from what date and under what conditions you can securely retire.

The DES will only provide an estimate of pension benefits for teachers enquiring about retirement within the current school year, i.e. by the 31st August of that year. As it currently takes at least three months for the DES to provide the estimate, a teacher considering retirement should apply for an estimate well in advance, typically by Christmas for a teacher intending to retire by the August of that school year. The estimate of pension benefits can be applied for using “Query Form 1”.  

Once you have received your pension estimate from the DES you may call the Pensions and Retirement team at ASTI Head Office who will be happy to talk you through your estimate.

Applying to Retire

Having decided to retire, a teacher is required to give three months’ notice to their Board of Management if employed in a Voluntary School, or one month’s notice if employed in a Community or Comprehensive School. You can give that notice by sending a letter or email to the Principal/Secretary to the Board of Management advising the date on which you intend to retire. Please remember this letter constitutes formal notice by you to your employer that you are terminating your contract of employment by retirement. Once submitted, it cannot be rescinded or altered by you except with the agreement of your employer. For this reason, you should not give substantially more than the minimum notice to your employer of your intention to retire. This would typically be during the first part of May to allow for processing and signatures for a teacher intending to retire at the end of the school year.

In addition, you will need to submit an application to retire to the Pensions Section of the DES. This application has to be stamped and signed by your school prior to being submitted to the DES and should reach the DES Pensions Section at least 3 months prior to your retirement date. Teachers typically submit their letter of retirement and their application form to their school at the same time.

There are different application forms to be used for the main retirement options:

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Calculating your Pension & Lump Sum

Calculating your Pension Benefits

The Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme is a “final salary defined benefit schemes”. You have guaranteed pension benefits determined by your salary on the day you retire, and the length of service you have earned or bought in your pension scheme. Once you know your final salary and your pensionable service, you can calculate your pension benefits. These pension benefits include a fortnightly pension for the rest of your life, a tax-free lump sum and, generally, a survivors’ pension for your spouse or civil partner and qualifying children in the event of your death.

The salary figure that is used to calculate your pension benefits is your salary on the date you retire. There is a 3-year ‘look-back’ for Post of Responsibility and other allowances which means that the allowance must be held for three full years prior to retirement in order to have the whole value of the allowance included for pension purposes, otherwise the pro-rata value if used. If you are a job-sharer, the salary used to calculate your pension benefits is your equivalent whole-time salary. A job-sharer does not have to go back to full-time work in their retirement year to preserve the value of their pension. Work for the State Examinations Commission, however, is not pensionable and hence does not count towards your pension benefits.

The value of your pension benefits is, however, affected by the type and number of PRSI contributions you have made over your working life prior to your retirement from teaching. There are two main classes of PRSI that teachers typically have in their PRSI records:

D1 rate: for a teacher continuously employed with no break in service from before 6th April 1995 and who is a member of the Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme either continuously from before or after that date.

A1 rate: for a teacher employed before 6th April 1995 but who was not in a public service pension scheme at that time, or a teacher employed on or after 6th April 1995, or who was interrupted their service after that date, irrespective of whether or not they are a member of a public service pension scheme.

There are also many teachers who have a mix of PRSI rates in their social insurance record. Such teachers may have been teaching for some time before they joined the Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme, for example, during their probationary year. Alternatively, a teacher may have joined the profession before April 1995, subsequently left but re-joined at a later date after a break in service. A break of one day is sufficient to switch a teacher from Class D1 to Class A1 contributions.

All of the pension benefits for teachers who have always paid the D1 rate of PRSI come from the teachers’ pension schemes and they are not entitled to a State Contributory Pension when they reach 66 years of age. This is called an ‘unco-ordinated pension’.

Teachers who have generally paid the A1 rate of PRSI or who have some A1 PRSI contribution in their record are entitled to a State Contributory Pension, in whole or in part, when they reach state retirement age. That whole or part state pension is not in addition to their teachers’ pension. Their teachers’ pension is reduced by the approximate value of the state pension they are entitled to, so that when you add them together, they come to the approximate overall value of the pension received by a similar teacher who has always paid PRSI at the D1 rate. This is called a ‘co-ordinated pension’. If such teachers retire before the state retirement age the DES will, on application, pay a Supplementary Pension in lieu of the State Pension reduction until they reach state retirement age providing that teacher is neither working in retirement nor entitled to Jobseekers Benefit. There is a specific age restriction on the payment of a supplementary pension if you retire on the Cost-Neutral Early Retirement Scheme (CNER) Scheme.

Pensions Modeller

The DES has very helpfully provided an online tool to enable members of the Pension Scheme to calculate a rough estimate of their future pension benefits. The estimate provided by the tool is, of course, only as accurate as the quality of the information input to it. However, the Pensions Modeller is very useful for delivering a broad estimate of future pension benefits, and also enables members to conduct ‘what-if’ analyses by using different retirement dates or salary details. The on-line Pensions Modeller can be accessed here

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Enhancing your Pension

Enhancing Pension Benefits

Members of the Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme earn pensionable service by paying superannuation contributions every two weeks from their salaries. It is not possible to make independent contributions to the pension scheme if a teacher is on unpaid leave of absence. However, teachers can "buy back" teaching service, including part-time service, that they gave in the Republic of Ireland before they joined the pension scheme, for example, during their teacher training and probationary years or before securing a permanent position. This facility also includes service where a teacher was paid by a VEC or privately by a school. If you have any such service it is important that you contact the ASTI before you retire in order to ensure that you apply in sufficient time to buy back this service. In addition, teachers may top up their pensionable service by purchasing Notional Service, a kind of pension savings contract that matures at either 60 or 65 years of age. This is a very effective way of building top-up service especially if you have at least 10 years to retirement. Teachers can also take out private pension arrangements called Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), such as the ATSI-endorsed scheme offered by Cornmarket. These are private arrangements, however, outside of the teachers' pension scheme, and as such depend on the performance of pension fund managers to secure an additional gratuity and/or pension in retirement.

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Spouses’ & Children’s Scheme

The Spouses’ and Children’s Scheme is designed to provide pension benefits for a teacher’s surviving spouse or civil partner and qualifying children in the event that a teacher dies either in service or in retirement. Membership of the Scheme has been compulsory for men appointed since 1969, and for women appointed since 1981. Initially the scheme was designed to provide survivors’ benefits for spouses and children of marriages contracted before retirement. In 2004, teachers were offered the opportunity to upgrade their membership of the Scheme to include marriages contracted post-retirement and to maintain the payment of benefits to surviving spouses who remarried. Most teachers took the opportunity to upgrade their membership at that time, although a minority elected to continue on the previous terms. With the passing into law of the Civil Partnership Act 2011, the benefits of the Scheme were extended to civil partners and their children. Finally, and very importantly, the benefits of the Scheme were extended to the spouses and children of same-sex marriages following the commencement of the Marriage Act 2015.


Teachers contribute 1.5 % of their gross pensionable salary throughout their teaching career to the Spouses’ and Children’s Scheme. These contributions are supplemented by a terminal contribution taken from a teacher’s pension gratuity on retirement. Contributions are also payable on retirement for any years of service that a teacher is buying-back under the PCW Scheme at that time.

Benefits – Death in Service:

There are three benefits that may be payable should a teacher die while in teaching service.  A death gratuity of between 1 and 1.5 times a teacher’s annual pensionable salary is payable on production of probate or letters of administration. The payment is made to the teacher’ personal representative, i.e. their executor (will) or administrator (no will). This payment is available whether or not the deceased teacher was a member of the Spouses’ and Children’s Scheme. For members of the Scheme, an amount equal to a month’s salary will be paid to the surviving spouse or civil partner for the first month after death. Thereafter, a survivor’s pension is payable to the spouse/civil partner. The value of the survivor’s pension is set at one-half of the potential pension that the deceased member would have earned had they completed their potential service, up to a maximum of 40 years.

This pension is payable for the rest of the surviving spouse/civil partner’s life and will continue to be paid should the surviving spouse/civil partner remarry, except where the deceased member did not upgrade their Scheme membership (see above). If there is a pension adjustment order in effect, consequent on a divorce or judicial separation, the survivor’s pension will be paid by the DES in accordance with its terms.

Survivors’ pensions are also payable to dependent children until their 16th birthday, or until their 22nd birthday if they remain in full-time education. The value of the pension paid for a child is set at one-third of the surviving spouse/civil partner’s pension, up to three children. If there are more than three surviving children, the sum of these pensions is set at an equal amount to the spouse/civil partner’s pension distributed equally amongst the surviving children. A children’s pension is also payable to an adult dependent child, without age limit, who is permanently incapacitated providing the infirmity existed form birth or arise while the child was eligible for benefit.

Benefits – Death in Retirement:

A teacher who dies in retirement will have already their received a pension gratuity when they retired. Survivors’ benefits, therefore, are limited to the pension paid to a surviving spouse/civil partner, and any qualifying children (see above). Where such a teacher retired on a Cost Neutral Early Retirement (CNER) basis, the actuarial reductions that will have been applied to that teacher’s pension will be disregarded in the calculation of the pensions paid to the surviving spouse/civil partner and qualifying children.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of Education & Skills has published a booklet dealing with 34 of the top questions that members might ask about the Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Teachers Superannuation Scheme. 

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