Many employers offer a benefit to their employees termed “ill-health retirement”. Where available, this benefit can provide immediate access to pension funds if an employee is too unwell to continue working. Read on to see how I can help if you have a dispute with your employer about access to your pension fund, along with feedback I received over the weekend from a very happy client.
The first thing to consider when looking at whether to apply for ill-health retirement is if you have exhausted all other options. This often involves a tactical consideration of your position to see if you could work in a modified way, or with reduced hours.
If you believe that you could work in a modified way this must be explored properly with occupational health and if possible, input from your own medical experts. If your employer fails to take on board your suggestions here, you may wish to consider potential claims for unfair dismissal or disability discrimination rather than looking to pursue a route of ill-health retirement.
Only when you have carefully considered your position from a tactical perspective should you consider applying for ill health retirement. If you have reached the point of being unable to work, despite having explored all reasonable adjustments, ill health retirement may be right for you.
In making any application for ill-health retirement, the key thing is to be well prepared. Each employer is likely to have slightly different requirements. However, looking at the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2013 as an example, they confirm that in order to qualify for early payment, certain conditions need to be met which are:
- As a result of ill health you are permanently incapable of discharging the duties of your employment; and
- As a result of ill health you are not immediately capable of undertaking gainful employment.
There are then a number of tiers which you could be allocated into. Tier one is available to members who are unlikely to be capable of undertaking gainful employment before normal retirement age. Tier two if a member is unlikely to be capable of undertaking any gainful employment within three years but is likely to be able to undertake gainful employment before retirement age. Tier three if the member is likely to be capable of undertaking gainful employment within three years of leaving employment or before normal retirement age if earlier.
The benefits you are entitled to receive will depend on the Tier you are allocated into and for this purpose, gainful employment is usually classified as 30 hours per week.
All of the above sounds fairly straight forward. However, over the last 12 years I have helped many clients who have had their applications for ill health retirement unfairly rejected. Just one example was a local authority employee who was wrongly awarded Tier 3 and following the complaint I drafted, was re-assessed and awarded Tier 1.
If you have a dispute or are unhappy about being refused ill health retirement there tends to be internal dispute resolution procedures (IDRP) you are required to follow. I can help you with these procedures and take you through the stages to what I hope will be a positive outcome.
In the event that you remain dissatisfied following completion of your employer’s internal dispute resolution procedures, you may need to submit a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman. Again, I can help with this process should it be necessary.
Recent Feedback – Ill-Health Retirement Case
“Sophie gave me advice about how to go ahead with my appeal… she is so knowledgeable in dealing with such cases she made me feel more confident about how to move forward. She took all my case details and gave me written advice on how to make my case in the most professional manner for a small fee. I was so impressed with the in-depth report and Sophie’s caring attitude during communications with her that I decided I would ask her to represent me. The outcome was good – the pensions board sent the reports back to the council who had to re -submit information to another independent doctor who changed the original decision in my favour. Sophie was so efficient and knowledgeable there is nothing more she could have done better. She was in contact with by email or phone throughout the duration of my appeal and helped me through a very difficult time. Her knowledge is extensive and I’m sure I wouldn’t have got the same result if I’d tried to appeal on my own”
Please call me on 01522 440512 to arrange a Fixed Fee Consultation or visit our website www.lincslaw.co.uk for more information about the services I provide.
Director, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
LincsLaw Solicitors, Lincoln