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Occupational Pension Benefits

Published: 21 October 2019
From: Department of Defence

The Defence Forces pension schemes provide occupational pension benefits for members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF). They cover serving members and pensioners, including dependants of deceased members.

The main benefits of the Defence Forces Pension Schemes are:

  • a retirement (occupational) pension; and/or
  • a retirement gratuity or death in service gratuity (lump sum)
  • spouses’ and/or children’s pensions

A person’s actual pension scheme terms and superannuation benefits (e.g. pension and lump sum) depend on the date he/she joins the PDF and whether they are in officer or enlisted ranks. The main difference in pension terms apply depending on the following dates of joining:

  • before 1 April 2004 – Benefits are based on rank and service and are payable immediately on retirement from the PDF, after certain defined periods of service depending on rank.
  • after 1 April 2004 but before 1 January 2013 - Benefits are broadly in line with standard public service terms i.e. they are based on pensionable service and ‘final salary’. There is a ‘minimum pension age’ of 50 from which benefits can be paid. If a person leaves the PDF before age 50 benefits are ‘preserved’ and payable from age 60.
  • after 1 January 2013 – All personnel are members of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme and benefits are based on ‘career average earnings’. There is a minimum pension age of 50 from which benefits can be paid. If a person leaves the PDF leaves before age 50, benefits are ‘preserved’ and are generally payable in line with and linked to Social Welfare State Pension age (age 66 rising to 68)

There are also differences between the pension terms and benefits of officers who joined before 6 April 1995 (on ‘modified’ PRSI – Class C) or joined on or after 6 April 1995 (on full PRSI – Class A). For those who join on or after 6 April 1995 and are fully covered for PRSI, their contributions and benefits are subject to integration with the State Pension Contributory.


The Defence Forces pension schemes are ‘defined benefit’ in nature, as is the case with public service pension schemes generally. This means that the pension benefits are set out or defined in the scheme rules.

Like the vast majority of public service pension schemes, the Defence Forces superannuation arrangements are financed by the State on a ‘Pay As You Go’ basis, that is, as part of current expenditure, voted in the annual estimates. In effect, the liabilities (costs) are met as and when they arise. For military pensioners this is done through the Army Pensions Vote which is audited each year by the Comptroller & Auditor General. The management and administration of the Defence Forces pension code is carried out by officials of the Department of Defence.

[Click here for booklets on relevant occupational pension schemes.]

Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure for the Defence Forces Pensions Schemes

Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure

Any complaint must be made in writing to the Pensions Administration Section of the Department of Defence.