The 1997 regulations introduced the rule of 85. This states that where a scheme member who has deferred benefits and elects to take those benefits before normal retirement age they should be reduced unless the member's length of membership (full time equivalent years where employed part time) and age (in whole years) when added together equals 85 or more.
Since 1 April 2014 a member may elect to receive benefits from the age of 55 subject to actuarial reduction regardless of whether or not the member would otherwise satisfy the 85-year rule. Scheme employers must include as part of their statement of policy whether or not to 'switch on' the 85-year rule for these members thereby allowing the member to take unreduced (or less reduced) benefits at the employer's cost.
If a member retires and claims their pension after age 60 onwards any 85-year rule protection that they have will be applied to their pension benefits automatically.