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Working after retirement

Retiring from full-time teaching to work as a supply teacher is an increasingly popular option. Fortunately, if you are employed directly by a local education authority or a school without a private agency as a go-between, you can contribute to another pension in the Teachers' Pensions Scheme while you are receiving your first pension benefits.

Whether you work full or part-time, you will need to make an election to rejoin the scheme. Once you have done this, it remains valid for any further employment that you take on, even if you take a break.

But to receive your extra pension and lump sum, you must complete 365 days of pensionable service, although this does not have to be continuous. On the plus side, for each full day of supply work you will be credited with 1.9 days of pensionable service, so it may not take you as long as you think to build up a year's employment.

If you were unaware of your right to build up a second pension, it's not too late. You can backdate any contributions to April 2000, when the system was first introduced, although you will have to pay contributions of 7 per cent on your earnings.

However, anyone who is thinking of returning to work after retirement must check that they do not exceed the earnings limit, otherwise their pension could be reduced. You are not allowed to earn more than the difference between your highest full-time equivalent salary during your last three years of teaching, your "salary of reference", and your pension.

For example: A teacher retired with a salary of reference of pound;25,000 and a pension of pound;9,000 a year. She's re-employed on a part-time basis earning pound;8,000 a year. Her salary and pension amount to pound;17,000 and, as her earnings limit is not exceeded, she will receive her pension in full.

Consult your union for further advice.

Jean Allgrove has left teaching three times - once to bring up her two sons, when she was made redundant, and when she left supply teaching to focus on a career in local politics.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her year as mayor of Taunton in Somerset and is looking forward to her next local government role, as chairman of the licensing committee. She said: "Redundancy was the best thing that ever happened to me."

Mrs Allgrove lost her job as a secondary maths teacher and head of year in 1995, but was fortunate enough to receive 10 years' pension enhancement.

Thanks to this, and her seven years' subsequent supply work, which have helped to boost her state pension, she thinks she will be able to manage when she finally retires altogether.

Mrs Allgrove, 65, has made sacrifices for her pension. She resisted the lure to withdraw her TPS contributions when she left to have her first child and continued to pay into the scheme during the years she worked part-time. "I've made ends meet by not having holidays. Instead, we've done house-swaps or stayed with friends."

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