Early ill health retirement.

Hi everyone

Does anyone have any experience of early ill health retirement?

I am a lawyer doing an already stressful job and have been told today that I am being transferred to another part of my organisation which in my view deals with work of an even more stressful nature. I feel that even attempting that type of work is very likely to make my symptoms worse and if I am not sucessful in challenging the decision to move me, I am thinking that I should ask to be retired on ill health grounds. What has to be proved to get retired in that way and what sort of terms am I likely to get? (Only after ballpark idea as I realise all employers are different - mine is civil service.)

If anyone has any experience of this area or has any idea where I can get any advice I would appreciate it.



Hi Claire,

I’m afraid you’re right that it really does depend on the specifics of your own scheme.

As a lawyer, I am sure you will have the skills necessary to check what applies in your own case.

One advantage of the Civil Service is I’m sure the rules will be documented and published, so you won’t have to worry that they’re making them up as they go along, to whatever suits them.

I think, as a general rule (and I haven’t been there myself yet), you have to prove not only that you are prevented by ill health from continuing your current job, but that there is NO job you could reasonably do for the same employer. Retirement is unlikely to be on the table, if the problem could be addressed by a change of duties.

Out of interest, do your employers know you have MS? As you probably already know, people with MS are protected by law, in the workplace. If they try to force you into changes that take no account of your health issues, that could be seen as failing in their duty towards you. I think you would have a much stronger case for declining the proposed transfer, if you can show it’s because of the probable health implications. Can you prove it’s actually longer hours, heavier workload, worse commute, or anything else that would be detrimental to your health?


I was recently awarded my full pension by the Beeb and it involved eventually being sent to the doctor of their choosing who after a long interview/assessment and refeence to my case notes etc judged that I was “unlikely to work again”. A pretty demoralising event, but it had to be done (it being true and all). Not being negative, just trying to say that it does happen, and warning you that it can be a pretty nasty experience. AND that paying in to the pension scheme was about the only wise thing I’ve ever done…


I started on this route, but before ill health retirement could happen, I took voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

I worked in local government and had been off ill for several months. The ill health retirement option was being explored through occupational health.

As others have said, I would pursue all options to carry on at work before considering retirement. Have you spoken to Access to Work?

Good Luck!

Hi Claire,

Ill Health Retirement (IHR) is not easy to get. You must be off sick and you would then get your employer’s doctor to certify the chances of you working again are remote.

Otherwise it differs with your contract of employment of your entitlement. As a general rule you would get an immediate pension and perhaps commute some into a lump sum. All this depends on how long you have worked for the Civil Service.

I suggest you first contact ‘Access to Work’ lots of benefits available like taxis to and from; infrastructure; furniture; helper worker all designed to help you do your job. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/Employmentsupport/WorkSchemesAndProgrammes/DG_4000347 they will also talk to your employers to explain the need to keep you away from as much stress as possible.

IHR is not an easy road to go down and is a decision that will last all your life. Are you acting in haste so you do not want to repent at leisure?



I think ill health retirement is almost always preceded by a long period of being off sick. It would be hard to show that on one day you could do the job and the next needed to retire. I understand that you are exploring your options but you will need to factor in a period of sick notes and SSP (Your employer will probably have periods of time where they pay full and then half pay)


Hi Claire

You aren’t ME are you I am a lawyer in the Civil Service and my MS has meant that I am beomming increasingly limited in what parts of my job I can actually do. I am currently trying to get transferred to another part of the department where the job does not include these impossible tasks and I have just received a sympathetic ATOS report ayimg that this would be my only reasonable adjustment is m(yes, I won the "sympathetic report by ATOS lottery for 2011!) However, jobs in this part of the organisation are rare and do not come up often (once people are there they usually stick like limpets!) so a transfer to this is by no meands a done deal.

This means that the only real alternative would be medical retirement. I am TERRIFIED of this. I am the only breadwinner in my relationship and, even with 20 years service my pension would mean me retiring on a third of my salary I just can’t afford that

My Union reps have been very good (member of the FDA who have excellent local and national disability reps) Even so, they tell me that medical retirement is much, much harder to get now that it was in the past. There are very well documented HR procedures for early retirement but they are very rigid - the good old days of being able to accept an individual “package” are long gone. I am not sure what the position is with you retirement lump sum but I do now that they do boost your reckonable service by some extra years (6 extra years I think).

Lawyers are notoriously bad for failing to comply with basic emplyment and discrimination law in their own organisations. My emplyers is a department that tried to discipline/sack someone for non-attendance whilst she was in hospital IN A COMA It took over a year for them to get her medically retired after that!

I don’t want to name my department publically here, but if you fancy a chat, please feel free to PM me.



Sorry about my terrible typing! One of the reasons that my current role is becomming untenable

As others have said, it depends on your pension scheme rules and local HR practices where you are.

Not everyone who is granted IHR has been off work for ages, by the way. Sometimes it can be enough (particularly in a job like yours, I would guess) for it to be clear to all that your health condition means you are simply unable to deliver at the high professional level expected. One way or another, IHR is almost always preceded by a soul-destroying period of being either too sick to work, or miserably aware of failing at work and feeling that you are letting your employers and customers and colleagues down all the time (if that bit sounds heartfelt, there is a reason for that!)

To put it bluntly, it is most unlikely that anyone will give you IHR until you have become chronically crap at your job, whether through absence, or failure to perform. It is usually not a pretty process. IHR is usually very expensive for the employer and is only granted when an employee has become (again, please excuse the bluntness) more trouble than she’s worth.

Having said all of which, I am very grateful that I got IHR when my MS got the better of me. It was the start of a very fulfilling new stage of my life.



Two things to consider:

  1. Working gives you a reason to get up, get moving and keep the old grey matter ticking over every day - whether it needs to be on reduced hours (this would have an effect on your eventual pension) or working from home etc. Reasonable adjustments should be made for you and the scheme’s doctor will probably need to comment on whether there is anything at all that would help, before they make the decision that IHR is justified.

  2. As Wendels has already said - it is very unlikely to go from “full attendance” to “unable to work”. There needs to be a period of sickness and your sickness record will be included in judging whether you fulfill the criteria. However - the Civil Service can also retire staff on “Medical inefficency” grounds if the sick record is too bad, and although this should involve a lump payment of compensation depending on your length of service, I don’t think it involves any early payment of pension so there will be no monthly income.

Try googling “Civil Service ill health retirement” which will give you the relevant booklets as they vary depending on which scheme you are a member of.

Please don’t be rushed into a knee-jerk reaction, but ensure it is really what is right for you!

Hi, as far as i am aware, you cant deem yourself unfit for work...........its the other way round. you need to have been on the sick (certified by your GP) for quite a while. Then your company will send you to se a doc of their choice, to determine your fitness to work.

I worked for the LA and this is how it went for me.

I retired on ill health, after being on the sick for 8 months. i was entitled to a year, but knew there was no point dragging out the inevitable and the HR dept offered me the choice of leaving then.

Good luck with whatever happens.

luv Pollx.


Just echoing pretty much what others have said before IHER is very difficult to get now if you are a public sector worker (I presume you are if you are a civil servant?). They made reforms several years ago as workers were being given it and then going back to work in a different role. You have to be deemed incapable of working as pretty much anything before you really can qualify now. It ultimately is up to the pension dept and their board of assessors. Some private organisations have more relaxed rules than others. An Occupational Health Physician is better to advise on criteria and whether you meet the criteria and they would have to submit your case. It is quite a lengthy process to my knowledge. I would go down the adjustment route. Access to work arre now restricted to how much they can do now due to governemtn cutback and believe that they get involved if adjustments over £5000 are required, but I could be wrong, they would be able to advise you but dont know what Access to Work could do in this case. Can you make your objections known and the reasons why and request a referral to Occupational Health for their opinion as presumably this would result in a higher sickness absence rate etc which they dont want.

Good luck with it. I do wish you all the best