Public service pensions

Public service pensions, including civil service pensions, are occupational pension schemes set up by the Government for employees in the public service, local authorities, or semi-state companies. The majority of these pensions are defined benefit schemes. This means that your pension is based on your pay/salary at retirement or an average of your pay while you were in the scheme and the number of years you have been in the scheme.

Public servants who were employed before 2013 belong to sector-specific pension schemes, for example civil service, HSE and teacher schemes. Members of these schemes should contact their employer (relevant Government Department or State Body) for information on the rules of their particular scheme, or for pension estimates. Learn more about civil service pensions.

Public servants who joined from 1 January 2013 onwards are members of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme. Learn more about the Single Public Service Pension Scheme.

How to boost your pension

When reviewing your pension, you may look at ways you can boost your pension fund to increase your benefits at retirement and ensure you will have enough to meet your needs and wants.

To do this you may choose to make Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) or purchase notional service.

Additional voluntary contributions

AVCs are extra contributions you may be able to make to an occupational pension scheme in the private or public sector.

You can make AVCs to your employer’s AVC scheme. The majority of public service bodies will have an AVC scheme – you will need to check with your employer to find out if they have an AVC scheme.

If your employer does not have AVC scheme set up or you do not want to use their scheme, you can take out your own PRSA and make the additional payments into it. More information can be found on the Pensions Authority of Ireland’s website.

Purchase of notional service

This option is mainly available to civil and public servants who will have less than 40 years of service at retirement age. It allows employees to contribute extra to their pension to buy back years.

Buying ‘notional service’ or ‘added years’ is best if the main aim is to provide a retirement income. Under this option, any extra benefits bought are guaranteed. You cannot get a similar guarantee by paying contributions to a separate AVC arrangement. The cost of this option depends on the number of years you want to buy and other factors such as your age.

For more information on purchasing notional service, you should contact your employer.

Last updated on 1 September 2023