MHO status applies to those who:

  • spend either the whole or almost the whole of their time in direct care and treatment of mentally ill patients.
  • have been granted MHO status on or before 6 March 1995 and have not had a break in pensionable membership of any one period of 5 years or more.


After 20 years under MHO membership, each year in excess of 20 counts as 2 years or doubles for benefit purposes.

Retirement at 55

Members can retire without taking any reduction from age 55 as long as they have achieved 20 years under MHO membership and they are still in pensionable MHO employment on the day before they retire.

Whole-time and part-time members

MHO status used to apply to whole time members only, however part-time members can now be granted MHO status as long as they fulfill the other criteria.

Mental Health Officers in the community

These members can also have MHO status.

Additionally, you may be entitled to MHO status if you have:

  • worked with mentally ill patients outside the NHS, including working abroad.
  • MHO membership that is no longer reckonable such as refunded or transferred service in the scheme.

These periods may only count towards establishing the 20 years required to double membership and are not reckonable towards the calculation of your benefits. This service may not be used for doubling purposes until the member reaches age 50 and above.

More information can be found on the Mental Health Officer (MHO) factsheet on our website.

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