Benefits of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Pension Scheme

Along with your salary, your pension is one of the most important benefits on joining the Northern Ireland Civil Service


It provides you with financial security and options when you retire, as well as benefits for your family and loved ones. Some of the benefits of the NICS pension include:

  • member contribution rates among the lowest in the public sector
  • tax relief on your contributions
  • generous employer contributions
  • a secure, inflation-proof pension for life, with no investment uncertainty
  • the option of tax-free lump sum on retirement
  • potential access to ill health and injury benefits if you become too ill to work
  • life assurance cover
  • benefits for loved ones and dependants
  • options to increase your pension
  • keeping all your pensions in one place by transferring in a pension you have built up elsewhere.

alpha pension scheme

You will be able to choose between alpha (a ‘career average’ scheme) and Partnership (a ‘defined contribution’ arrangement).

In alpha you will accrue 2.32% of your pensionable earnings each scheme year towards your annual pension when you retire. We will also adjust your total pension accrued each year in line with inflation. This will ensure your pension does not lose value over time. Further information can be found within the alpha scheme guide.

Find out more about alpha

How much you could receive

If you earned £22,000 for 20 years, you could have an annual pension of £10,208 or £6,562 pension and a tax-free lump sum of £43,748.

After 40 years, this could be an annual pension of £20,416, or £13,124 pension and a tax-free lump sum of £87,497.

Please note these figures are for illustrative purposes only and do not include any inflation adjustments.

Increasing your pension

The NICS pension gives you the opportunity to plan for the retirement you want and increase your pension by buying either added pension or Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs). Added Pension is an amount of extra annual pension you can buy which will be combined with your NICS pension when you choose to take it. Find out more about Increasing your pension.

Benefits for loved ones and dependants

The NICS pension allows you to nominate a beneficiary (including charities) for a tax-free lump sum in the event of your death. It is important that you keep your death benefit nomination up to date.

Some of the other benefits a NICS pension offers your loved ones and dependants include:

  • A spouse/partner/civil partner’s pension
  • A death benefit lump sum
  • A children's pension


The Partnership pension account is an alternative to the NICS Pension Scheme and is managed by two partnership pension providers - Standard Life and Scottish Widows. 

You can choose how much you want to contribute and the money that you and/or your employer pay into your plan builds up your pension pot. Your pension pot is invested in one or more of Standard Life or Scottish Widow's investment funds. The aim of an investment fund is to grow the value of your pension pot but this isn’t always guaranteed. You can decide what to do with your money, and how you take it from age 55, whether or not you’ve stopped working.

Joining the NICS Pension Scheme

You may be automatically enrolled into the NICS pension scheme, however you must also complete both of the following:

  • a New Entrant Pension Questionnaire (which you should have received with your Letter of Offer) 
  • a Pension Choices Form (which will be included in your New Entrant Pack) This should be returned within one month of commencing employment

If you did not receive a New Entrant Pack, please contact your line manager/employer.

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