Problems with a decision about ill health in retirement

If you're unable to work due to an illness or accident, you can ask to receive your pension early. Some schemes allow pensions to be paid early because of ill health but each scheme might define what counts as ‘ill health’ differently and have different conditions. The requirements will be set out in your scheme’s rules.

Making a decision

To receive your pension early, you’ll need to provide your pension scheme or employer with details of your ill health/condition and why you’re no longer able to work. Your scheme provider will then consider your case and make a decision.

The decision-maker should:

  • correctly use the scheme’s rules ask the right questions and apply the law correctly
  • review all the evidence and consider all relevant information
  • make a reasonable and fair decision
  • provide a report detailing the reasons for their decision and the next steps if you in case you do not agree with the decision.

Appealing a decision

If your request for ill health early retirement is refused, it’s possible to challenge a decision if one or more of the above was not followed.

If that’s the case, the decision-maker should reconsider. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they would come to a different decision.

I lost my job because I’m ill but my scheme says I don’t qualify for an ill health pension

Although you lost your job because of your health, your eligibility for an ill health pension depends on the criteria in your scheme’s rules.

In some schemes even if you can’t do the job that you are/were doing due to ill health, if you’re still capable of doing ‘a job’ you might not fit their criteria. 

My GP supports my application. Why can they turn me down?

It’s not uncommon for there to be differences in medical opinions.

While your GP’s opinion is relevant, the decision-maker is also able to get their own medical opinion and choose the one they think is most appropriate.

What’s important is that they make their decisions properly. For example, they should ask the right questions if they need clarification from medical experts.

The scheme’s medical adviser didn’t see me. That can’t be right?

There’s no requirement for a medical adviser to meet you. That would be down to their professional judgement.

What is important is that the decision-maker makes their decision in line with the principles above.

I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Are there any other options available to me?

If you’re under the age of 75 and have been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition where you've been given less than 12 months to live, you might be able to access your pension tax-free.

Speak to your pension provider to see if they offer this option.

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