Ill Health Retirements

Keeping the workforce happy, healthy & safe

Considerations for Early Retirement due to Medical Conditions

When an employee has a significant medical condition there may be further health deterioration that permanently affects their ability to perform their substantive role. At this time, it may be appropriate to consider early retirement before the age of 55 years or before reaching the age when the employee is able to take their pension. If they are a member of a pension scheme, they may be entitled to apply for ill health retirement (IHR).

Ill health retirement can occur when an employee has an illness that prevents them continuing to manage their normal job, or one that seriously impacts on their earning potential. If reasonable adjustments have already been made and these are no longer supporting the employee in the workplace, then it may be time to consider medical retirement. In some work situations, it is not always possible to provide reasonable adjustments.

To qualify for ill health retirement the employee is generally required to:

  • Establish that they are permanently incapable of doing their job due to a physical or mental health condition.
  • Prove that there are no further treatment options available to enable a return to the workplace in the substantive job or another role.
  • Apply for retirement when currently employed as this is likely to give maximum benefits.

The Role of Occupational Health

In cases of terminal illness with less than 12 months life expectancy, some employees under 75 years of age may be able to take their full pension pot as a tax-free lump sum. (This will depend on the employee’s scheme)

Each pension scheme will have its own specific qualifying conditions and an occupational health assessment will be required to provide evidence that the criteria are met. We recommend that you and your HR advisor contact your pension provider to get further information on their respective qualifying criteria. The pension provider will need to send their IHR forms for the occupational health doctor to complete following the consultation.

The occupational health doctor will require evidence in the form of letters and reports from the employee’s doctors. Employee consent will be required to access this information.

Exploring Your Options

It is not possible to receive the State Pension before state pension age, however an employee may be able to get help with day-to-day living costs.

It may be advisable for an employee to get financial advice on their specific pension scheme and the benefits thereof.

The consultation with the occupational health doctor will encourage a positive approach to ill health retirement if this is possible and to be seen as an opportunity rather than an end of working life. There are often opportunities in the voluntary sector which may enrich retirement. The doctor can help with signposting if this is appropriate.

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Workplace Wellness is the trading name of Bradford on Avon Occupational Health Services Ltd.
Registered in England: 9749251
VAT no. 27144823278
Registered Office: 29 Bridge Street Bradford on Avon Wiltshire BA15 1BY

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