Ill health retirement

Ill health retirement benefits Your pension scheme provides benefits if you become ill either whilst you are still employed or after you have left the scheme.

If you are ill the last thing you will need is the added stress of proving to your employer that you satisfy the rules to receive your benefits. However there is a procedure that has to be followed and often this will mean that cases will take at least a couple of months to be sorted out. Throughout the process you will be required to attend medical examinations either with the same or different doctors and reports will be requested from the medical specialists involved in your treatment. So please be patient whilst the assessment is on going, it will be dealt with as soon as possible. You should contact your employer for an explanation though if you feel that you are not receiving adequate communication about what is happening to your case along the way.

In parts the rules are different for members who become ill whilst still employed and those who became ill after they have left the scheme. Therefore click on the option appropriate to you circumstances from the list below.

The rules
Ill health retirement benefit rules

Deferred benefit into payment on medical grounds rules

The procedure
Explanatory leaflet about the ill health retirement

Explanatory leaflet for members who became ill after leaving the scheme
(leavers before 1st April 2008)

Explanatory leaflet for members who have become Ill after leaving the scheme
(leavers on or after 1st April 2008)


Ill health retirement FAQs

Who makes the decision to authorise ill health retirement?
It is the employers responsibility to make the decision. They are required by the pension scheme regulations to seek the opinion of a suitably qualified medical practitioner but at the end of the day the employer makes the decision based on all the factors relevant to the case. Contrary to popular belief a scheme member cannot apply for ill health retirement. The employer is responsible for starting the assessment process.

I am receiving employment and support allowance ( formerly incapacity benefit) from the Department for Work & Pensions. Why doesn’t that automatically qualify me for an ill health pension? 

The Department for Work & Pensions works to different rules. Basically they look at a much shorter timescale because Incapacity Benefit is designed to provide income for the immediate future. In addition, the Employment and Support Allowance can be withdrawn if the medical condition improves. The ill health retirement assessment is concerned with permanent incapability to do your job which could in some cases be quite different.

What criteria are the doctors working to?

The doctors are working to national guidelines issued by the Association of Local Authorities Medical Advisors. In essence they are looking for evidence that a member has had all available treatment that is considered usual for their particular medical problem, including referral to a specialist for treatment. It is only after this course has been followed that a long-term prognosis can be given and thus a decision on permanent incapacity until Normal Pension Age. Sometimes this is "on a balance of probabilities" basis but certainly GP letters of support that are not backed up by specialist opinion specifically concentrating on the pension schemes criteria will not be sufficient.