Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Sector PRSA
- How do I join the Public Sector Public Sector PRSA?
- How does my Public Sector PRSA Plan work?
- What are my options at retirement?
- When can I draw down my PRSA Investment Account at retirement?
- Am I charged a consultancy fee if I top up my PRSA?
- Am I charged a consultancy fee each time my PRSA contribution increases in line with my salary?
- Can I vary my PRSA contributions?
- How does the tax relief work?
- What happens if I stop contributing to my PRSA?
- If I retire on a low pension, will it affect how I can draw down my PRSA benefits?
- Am I buying back my temporary and/or training years under the Public Sector PRSA Scheme?
- What happens if I take a career break?
- What happens if I leave the Public Sector?
- What happens if I change my retirement plans?
- What happens if I die in service?
- What happens if I die in retirement?
- What happens if I retire early due to illness?
- What happens if I am involved in a legal separation or divorce?
- What happens to my PRSA Plan at retirement?
- Are there alternatives to the Public Sector PRSA?
- If I have less than 9 years full time Superannuation service - will this affect my PRSA?
- How do I draw down my PRSA at retirement?
- On what basis are assumptions made regarding salary increases, contribution increases and investment returns in my half yearly Public Sector Benefit Statement?
- Can I track my Public Sector online?
How do I join the Public Sector PRSA?
There are two ways to join the Public Sector PRSA Scheme:
- ‘Full Advice’ Public Sector PRSA
- ‘No Advice Execution Only’ Public Sector PRSA
1. 'Full Advice' Public Sector PRSA
Full Advice 'Public Sector PRSA' is set up following an initial meeting with your local Cornmarket consultant. You will have completed a full Retirement Benefit Review as well as a full Financial Health Check. Your consultant will have completed all the required paperwork for your Public Sector PRSA to be set up as a percentage of salary and for it to be taken directly from your payslip so you will avail of tax relief at source. You are entitled to reviews in the future as well as our Retirement Planning Service.
The Retirement Benefit Review fee is €525.
Our dedicated Public Sector PRSA customer service hotline is also available to you. To make an appointment to set up a Public Sector PRSA call (01) 408 4025 today.
2. 'No Advice Execution Only' Public Sector PRSA
The 'No Advice' Execution Only Public Sector PRSA is an option to set up a Public Sector PRSA without an initial meeting with your local Cornmarket consultant. This means you do not get the benefit of the Retirement Benefit Review or other financial advice in relation to your Public Sector PRSA. Therefore you do not pay the Retirement Benefit Review fee charged at the outset in the case of the 'Full Advice' Public Sector PRSA. Thereafter, the ongoing charges are the same as in the case of the 'Full Advice' Public Sector PRSA because, from then on members enjoy all the benefits of the Public Sector PRSA set up initially on foot of a Retirement Benefit Review meeting, such as salary deduction, tax relief at source and access to future reviews and the Public Sector PRSA helpline. To download a 'No advice Execution Only' application form, please click here
How does my Public Sector PRSA Plan work?
Your Public Sector PRSA provides you with a tax efficient way to build up a sum of money which can be used to buy additional financial benefits for you at retirement.
What are my options at retirement?
At retirement your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account may be used within certain limits imposed by Revenue to:
- Top up your gratuity with an additional tax-free lump sum and/or
- Take a further taxable lump sum at retirement and/or
- Provide a pension in addition to any pension you may be entitled to under the Superannuation Scheme. As with your pension under the Superannuation Scheme, any Public Sector PRSA pension will be treated as earned income for tax purposes and/or
- Invest in an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) assuming that your total pension income is more than €12,700 p.a. (2013 level). and/or
- Purchase extra Superannuation benefits through your employer such as a refund of a marriage gratuity and/or
- Buy benefits under the Notional Service Purchase (NSP) Scheme.
Needless to say most Public Sector PRSA members opt to take as much as possible as a tax-free lump sum.
When can I draw down my Public Sector PRSA Investment Account at retirement?
You can only draw down your Public Sector PRSA benefits when you draw down your Superannuation benefits.
Am I charged a consultancy fee if I top up my Public Sector PRSA?
Am I charged a consultancy fee each time my Public Sector PRSA contribution increases in line with my salary?
Can I vary my Public Sector PRSA contributions?
Yes, you may increase or decrease, stop or re-start your Public Sector PRSA contributions over the years ahead. This is of course subject to the maximum contribution limit set by Revenue and the minimum PRSA contribution level of €50 per month (or equivalent). Please note, any change made may take up to two months to affect your salary. Please contact Cornmarket on (01) 408 4162 for more information.
How does the tax relief work?
Tax relief is applied at source. Your employer deducts your Public Sector PRSA contribution from your gross pay before the application of income tax. In effect this means that only the net amount, i.e. after tax relief, is deducted from your salary.
What happens if I stop contributing to my Public Sector PRSA?
In general, if you stop contributing to your Public Sector PRSA Plan, your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account will remain invested until you retire. At that point, it is available to you to ‘buy’ the retirement benefits for which you are eligible. You are not eligible to receive benefits from the Public Sector PRSA Scheme until you begin to draw down your benefits from the Superannuation Scheme. If you stop your contributions it may take up to two months to affect your salary.
If I retire on a low pension, will it affect how I can draw down my Public Sector PRSA benefits?
On some occasions, public sector employees who have particularly short service and/or are on relatively low salaries such as those in job sharing posts for a prolonged period and/or those who retire under the Cost Neutral Early Retirement Scheme may find that their total pension at retirement* is less than €12,700 p.a.. This has special relevance for those who have a Public Sector PRSA as, in order to avail of the full range of Public Sector PRSA benefits at retirement, your total pension income (including any Superannuation, social welfare pension, etc) must be at least over €12,700 p.a. Any income that is not guaranteed for life (supplementary pension, widow’s pension, invalidity pension, etc.) cannot be used to make up the €12,700 a year. If you happen to fall into this scenario your options are as follows:
- As usual, part or all of your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account may be taken as a tax-free lump sum (up to the relevant limit set by Revenue) and
- Any balance up to €63,500 must be used to buy a pension and/or be invested in an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) rather than an ARF.
The essential difference between an AMRF and an ARF is that while you can make a withdrawal net of tax from an ARF at any time, you cannot withdraw any of the capital you’ve invested in an AMRF (although you may make withdrawals from any interest earned) until you reach age 75*. The Government’s logic in setting this rule is that, if you are on a low pension, you should invest your lump sum for the longer term (i.e. in an AMRF) rather than be tempted to spend it in the years immediately after retirement!
It is important that you contact Cornmarket should your circumstances change subsequently, e.g. you decide to retire earlier than anticipated, take a career break or go job sharing. Changes such as these may mean that your income will be less than €12,700 a year at retirement, opening up the possibility that some or all of your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account may have to be invested in an AMRF at retirement.
* Finance Act 2011 legislated that if you subsequently have a pension greater than €12,700 p.a. you will then be able to move your AMRF into an ARF.
The Key Question
Are your total pension entitlements (inclusive of state pension benefits) likely to be less than €12,700 a year? If you believe this may be the case, you should contact Cornmarket on (01) 408 4162.
Am I buying back my temporary and/or training years under the Public Sector PRSA Scheme?
No. Your contributions to the Public Sector PRSA Scheme are being invested in your own personal Public Sector PRSA Investment Account. At retirement, you can choose the benefits you want based on the amount of money in your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account at that time, subject to Revenue limits.
What happens if I take a career break?
You should write to Cornmarket as soon as you are certain you are going to take a career break. Your contributions will of course cease as soon as your salary stops. In the interim the value of your Public Sector PRSA will continue to reflect the returns earned by the investment funds. Upon returning to your job, your Public Sector PRSA should automatically start again. You may also wish to consider increasing your Public Sector PRSA Plan at that stage to make up for the shortfall resulting from the years of service you missed whilst on career break.
What happens if I leave the Public Sector?
If you resign, Revenue insists that your Public Sector PRSA benefits are treated in the same way as your benefits under the Superannuation Scheme:
- If you are entitled to a refund of your Superannuation contributions, you must also draw down the value of your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account when you resign. The amount to be drawn down will be subject to tax at 20% under current Revenue regulations.
- If you are not entitled to take a refund of your Superannuation contributions, you must leave your Public Sector PRSA contributions in your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account until retirement.
What happens if I change my retirement plans?
When joining the Public Sector PRSA Scheme you indicated a chosen retirement age. However, your plans for retirement may change over the years – for instance you may decide that you want to retire at an earlier or later date than the date you originally indicated when setting up your Public Sector PRSA Plan. Should your chosen retirement date change it is very important that you contact Cornmarket or Irish Life. This is because a change in your chosen retirement date may have consequences for your investment strategy and benefit entitlements under the Public Sector PRSA.
What happens if I die in service?
The value of your Public Sector PRSA at the date of your death will be paid out to your estate free of taxes.
What happens if I die in retirement?
If at retirement you use some or all of your Public Sector PRSA to buy a pension, you can choose to guarantee that it be paid for a specific period regardless of whether you die before that period runs out.
If you buy a pension with your Public Sector PRSA that has a 5 year guarantee, your pension is paid for the rest of your life. However, should you die within the first five years of retirement then your pension will continue to be paid to your estate for the balance of the 5 year guarantee period. If you die after the 5 year guaranteed pension has run out, your pension will end at the date of your death.
What happens if I retire early due to illness?
If you retire on grounds of ill health your Public Sector PRSA Investment Account will be used to ‘buy’ the retirement benefits for which you are eligible, subject to Revenue limits. Please note that as you may receive additional years from your employer, this may affect how you can draw down your Public Sector PRSA at retirement. If you are also a claimant under your union’s Salary Protection Scheme, the benefit you receive under that Scheme will not be affected in any way by your entitlements under your Public Sector PRSA Plan.
What happens if I am involved in a legal separation or divorce?
If you are involved in a legal separation or divorce, a pension adjustment order may be granted by the Courts over the benefits payable from the Public Sector PRSA Scheme on your retirement or death. Further information on how pension adjustment orders work is available from your solicitor or from:
The Pensions Authority,
28/30 Lower Mount Street,
Tel: (01) 613 1900 Fax: (01) 631 8602
Locall: 1890 6565 65.
What happens to my Public Sector PRSA Plan at retirement?
Your Public Sector PRSA is used to ‘buy’ your chosen benefits at retirement, subject to Revenue limits. You do not have to make a final decision about how you want to take your retirement benefits until you reach retirement. It is important, however, that you plan ahead so that the amount in your Public Sector PRSA will be adequate to buy your preferred choice of benefits.
Are there alternatives to the Public Sector PRSA?
YES - The Purchase of Notional Service (PNS) Scheme and the Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) Scheme.
Option 1: The PNS Scheme
Your employer administers the Purchase of Notional Service (PNS) Scheme seeking to ‘buy’ Superannuation credit for missed years of service.
Below you will see the advantages and disadvantages of both the PNS and PRSA Schemes. This information is taken from the Pensions Board booklet Purchase of Notional Service (PNS) and Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) which is available online at www.pensionsboard.ie
Weighing up your options
The PNS Scheme
You know exactly how your pension
benefit will be calculated.
Not open to those who will have full service
at their normal retirement date.
You know what it will cost.
Not open to those who will have total service
of less than nine years at their normal
PNS is a defined benefit.
If you retire earlier than anticipated, you will
not get the full benefit you expected.
Contributions attract tax relief.
No flexibility in where the purchased service
is applied, i.e., can’t make up shortfall in lump
Cannot turn the investment into an Approved
Retirement Fund (ARF).
you can stop/start contributions.
AVCs are a defined contribution arrangement
so the individual bears the risk.
You have control over where fund is used
(subject to Revenue limits) i.e. can fund
to maximise the tax free lump sum only.
AVC contributions are subject to fees and
Contributions attract tax relief.
You won’t know what the fund will be until
You have the option to invest in an ARF.
You can use the fund to avail of PNS.
You can help to fund early retirement.
* Please note this appears in the Pensions Board booklet as ‘The AVC Scheme’. As a Public Sector PRSA works in the same way as an AVC, the same advantages and disadvantages apply to the Public Sector PRSA.
Option 2: The AVC Scheme
Another alternative is an AVC which works in the same way as the Public Sector PRSA. Please contact your employer to see who they have appointed as the administrators for your workplace AVC Scheme. For more information please contact Cornmarket on (01) 408 4162.
If I have less than 9 years full time Superannuation service - will this affect my Public Sector PRSA?
No. Previously, under Revenue rules, in order to avail of any tax-free lump sum from your Public Sector PRSA at retirement, you must have at least 9 years’ Full-Time Superannuation Service. Cornmarket, with the support of a number of unions, brought this rule to the attention of Revenue who have confirmed that they are removing it. You are still required to have 9 years Superannuation service to avail of any tax-free lump sum from your Public Sector PRSA at retirement.
How do I draw down my Public Sector PRSA at retirement?
Please click here for details
On what basis are assumptions made regarding salary increases, contribution increases and investment returns in my half yearly Public Sector PRSA Benefit Statement?
Given the complex nature of pensions the industry is heavily regulated in order to help protect the consumer. Direction on how Illustrations of expected benefits or statements of reasonable projections should be prepared is included within three main pieces of legislation.*
Each of these pieces of legislation explains that the illustrations of benefits must be prepared in accordance with guidance provided by the “Society of Actuaries in Ireland”. In general, the thinking behind setting the assumptions is that they are in keeping with historical experience over a long period of time, are consistent with each other and also allow direct comparisons between providers.
Increases in Salary and Contributions
It is assumed that salary and contributions will grow by 3% a year, as per the guidance provided by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland, which states that ‘…where it is necessary to make assumptions about the rate of change in consumer prices or the rate of change in general earnings, the rate of change in general earnings used must be 3% ’
In projecting fund growth, there is also an investment return assumption made in accordance with the guidance provided by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland
The rate of return assumed for any investment fund must be determined based on:
• the underlying assets held in the fund and,
• what percentage of each asset class is typically held
Different types of assets have a different growth rate assigned to them. For example, Equities are 7%, Bonds are 4.5% and Cash is 3%. The assumption is subject to an overall cap of 6%, so a fund 100% invested in equities would have 6% as its growth rate.
For projections where an individual has opted for an investment strategy which might include a mix of funds, the projection must use the appropriate rate of return on a monthly basis in the calculations. For example a strategy that invested in equities up to 10 years before expected retirement and then gradually moves to cash, will use a reducing blended rate in the projection calculation for the anticipated movement in funds.
*Pensions Act, 1990, Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 301 of 2006) Trust RACs (Disclosure of Information) Regulations, 2007 (S.I. No. 182 of 2007)
Can I track my Public Sector PRSA online?
Access your Public Sector PRSA online - You can now track your Public Sector PRSA online
Irish Life - Pension Planet is a secure web facility which will allow you to view a much wider range of details about your Public Sector PRSA than ever before. By logging on to ‘Pension Planet’ you have access to information on your Public Sector PRSA at the touch of a button. This user-friendly system allows you to track your Public Sector PRSA Plan 24 hours a day from your computer. You will be required to key in your Public Sector PRSA member reference number (as provided on your annual benefit statement).
Click here to log on to pension planet
Irish Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.