Death-in-service benefits from the NHS: Are you returning to work due to COVID-19?

The current Covid-19 situation has seen many medics returning to the front line to help support the NHS at this time, which has turned into the biggest one-off recruitment programme in NHS history.

Several emergency measures have been introduced to allow members to do this, and include the following:

  • Suspension of the rule which currently prevents staff who return to work after retirement from the 1995 section of the NHS pension scheme from working more than 16 hours a week in the first four week after retirement
  • Abatement rules for special class status holders have been relaxed meaning they can now return to work without a restriction on how much they earn or a reduction in their pension in payment if too high.
  • Those in the 2008 or 2015 sections of the NHS pension scheme will not have to reduce their pensionable pay by 10% if they wish to continue working after electing to take some of the NHS pension using “drawdown”.

These measures should allow members to return to work or extend their work commitments without affecting their pensions.

But what protection is there for their families?

As it stood, any doctor returning to work after retiring, locums, medical students, or those who have opted out of the NHS pension scheme, their family  would not receive a “death in service” payment if they were to die. This seems very unfair, especially when many are volunteering to help and placing themselves and their families to additional risk.

This is no new story for locums who have had no death in service entitlement for days when they are not scheduled to work. A previous article covered this back in May 2018 “GP locums: Will you get your death in service benefit”

N.B. If you are a current NHS Pension Scheme member and would like a reminder of your Death-In-Service benefits please see L&M's article.

Can I still get Private life assurance if working with Covid-19 patients?

The major life assurance companies are still open for new business. They are taking each application on a case by case basis, with some additional questions on your current working arrangements. Those without underlying medical decisions and not showing symptoms or have tested positive could expect underwriting as normal with no increase to premiums or exclusions to cover.

Has additional help been given?

The government has introduced a new life assurance scheme without cost to the member, to pay out a one-off £60,000 payment to the families of frontline NHS staff who die from coronavirus “in the course of their frontline essential work”. This is on top of any death in service payments for those eligible in the NHS pension scheme.

Is this enough?

Life assurance is there to protect those you leave behind, and to ensure from a financial point of view that they are not forced to reduce their standard of living or pay off debts after an unexpected death.

This, of course, means a different picture for everybody which is why you should review the levels of cover you and your family need.

It is worth bearing in mind, the cost of life cover for those in good health is not expensive. A level term assurance policy for £200,000 for a 50-year-old non-smoker to the age of 65 would only cost £25.31 per month. This reduces to £9.95 per month for a 30-year-old.

Of course, this is an example but not representative of all clients. A tailored quote is available upon request. 

If you are worried about the impact on your family, book a meeting with your financial adviser. Meeting are available via the phone or as video calls that can be fitted around your work schedule.

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