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What options are available to me for topping-up my pension?

I am a salaried GP aged 37 and have been a member of the NHS pension scheme for 12 years. What are my pension top-up options?

A. All National Health Service Pension Scheme members are entitled to join the added years or NHSAVC schemes. The former is more secure as it provides guaranteed extra index-linked pension and lump sum based on your final NHS salary (or best of last three years salary). All the other benefits of the main NHSPS also apply.

Payments are a fixed percentage of your superannuable salary and are automatically deducted form your salary. You cannot take payment holidays. At your age each added year will cost you 0.98 per cent of your salary.

The NHSAVC is a money purchase scheme. The amount of the final pension is not guaranteed and will depend on investment return and annuity rates at retirement. You can take payment holidays and increase or decrease payments. You also have to option of an ordinary AVC which provides greater investment opportunities but the fund charges are likely to be higher.

From 2006 pensions rules change and you will have more choice over the amounts you put into pension top-ups and the variety of investments. These will include property. You should take specialist advice.

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