Ill health retirement


This is my first post here. I have RRMS and a recent scan has shown plaques in my frontal lobe. I am head teacher and have been finding it difficult to carry out this role effectively and am considering going for ill health retirement. I’m 51 and was planning to retire at 55 but not sure if I’ll manage that. Anyone out there got any experience of this or advice?

I am sorry that your MS is wreaking havoc in there. It is always challenging to deal with that sort of news. As for IHR, my suggestion would be to go for it (assuming you understand your options, and that what you’re being offered is broadly OK, obviously). Particularly as you say you are already conscious of struggling to perform at the level you are accustomed to, and that the role demands. There is nothing more demoralizing than battling on when you know you aren’t really up to it (sad experience speaking here). Best to bow out on your own terms before things get really difficult. And the good part is that you get a few bonus years between now and 55 to enjoy doing the things you love. For sure, the money aspect might be a worry and, of course, I have no idea of your personal circumstances. For what it’s worth, and from my past experience and what I see around me, people of your age and level of seniority tend to find, once they’ve done the sums, that they’ll be fine. Good luck. Alison

Hiya Sorry your MS is affecting your work. I took ill health retirement from the NHS in 2012 at the age of 52. Firstly I had to be seen not being able to carry out my duties even with adaptations being made for me and a drop in hours that didn’t work. I was then offered ill health retirement. I thought I would be able to ask for ill health retirement but I was wrong as I had to wait to be offered it. After a meeting with HR and Occ Health and after exhausting any other options being made to help me stay on I went ahead with IHR. The process went quite smoothly once it started. Hope this has helped you. Please PM me if you need any more information.

Thanks Alison

I think it’s been a bit of a reality check because physically I’m Ok but I know I am not at my best in terms of fulfilling my role. My MS nurse has said my neurologist would back my application- got pension guy coming to speak to me later this week so will see where I go from there !

1 Like

Thanks Shazzie

I’m not sure if they’ll be able to make any adaptations but I will see how it goes. Just feeling a bit scared to be honest!!!

Familiarise yourself with the whole early retirement process and make sure you get as good a deal as possible. I think teachers can have (or could have) 6 months full pay followed by 6 months half pay before the question of early retirement arises. Is it possible to have additional years service added on to your total service - this would affect your lump sum + pension. What ever you do don’t feel apologetic for having m.s. and for going down the early retirement route. Carefully study the options and go for the best one financially.

Thanks I will definitely sort out the best deal financially. Hopefully advisor I’m meeting later this week will help with this.

Thanks krakowian

Gavalar - life is short, so make the most of it. My sister-in-law, who was 52 and very fit and active was diagnosed with cancer in September last year and died in early December. It was unbelievably quick. My brother was so pleased he had retired early and that they’d had 10 years of retirement together living on a yacht in the Caribbean.

Unfortunately I don’t work for a large company, so there are no hand outs if I need to stop work. If we’re off work, then the first 3 days are unpaid, followed by statutory sick pay, which is around £90 per week. I work a 3 day week at an accountancy practice and I’m not sure how much longer i’ll be able to continue with my part time job. Just trying to save money now for the future.

Are you on sick leave at the moment? I don’t think you would get ill health retirement if you were still working.

If you’re trying to work out your finances remember that you will no longer be paying into your pension or be paying national insurance although you will still have to pay tax. I’m guessing the income from your pension will take you out of the ESA bracket so you would need to keep up your national insurance contributions.

Best of luck

Jan x

It isn’t always necessary to have been off sick long or even short-term, particularly for a senior leadership role like head teacher. If a person is medically unable to do the job properly any more and it’s only going to get worse rather than better, it can be in everyone’s interests just to get on with it. Let’s hope this is the case for the OP.


Thanks Muddle

That has helped put things in perspective.

Best wishes

Thanks Alison

I am looking into next steps and will see where it goes. I Want it to work for the school too! If possible.

I get a teachers’ pension of approx £15000 and still get contributory based ESA. It’s only £6.50 a week but most importantly it gives me National Insurance credits.

1 Like


probably a stupid question. Do you have to pay tax on your pension or do you just divide it by 12 to see what you’d get per month. What is ESA?


I took IHR seven years ago at 56. I was a primary teacher working for Kent. My first move was an appointment with occupational health who declared me unfit to teach. I then went through some of the access to work hoops. My head gave the official referral so I’m assuming, as you are a head, you can rely on your chair of governors to send the initial letter.

I must say how brave you are by admitting the effects of your condition on the ability to carry out your job. I was stubborn but at no time was my teaching or relationship with the pupils compromised.

I hope this helps.


Yes, you have to pay tax I’m afraid.

Hi i was in the army for 32 years i was diagnosed in 2017. I could no longer stay in the army so was given a medical discharge, i was scared at first thinking how i would survive on just my army pension but once all the figures were worked out i was off like a rat up a drain pipe. My pension plus standard rate pip plus army medical pension = very comfy thankyou i love being retired at 53. Kind Regards. Iain.

1 Like

Hi there I worked at a school for eight years before I was signed off, it wasn’t for MS though, they went through all the steps for me stepping down, they payed me my wages right up to the last day six months, they asked me if I wanted to put my notice in but talking to different people about it I made the decision not to. It was a while, a couple of months before I found out what it was. I was put on ESA for six months before I went on job seekers. And now I am on universal credit I can’t get my pension even though I have paid in to it for twenty years. Hope it answers your question.

Sent you a PM

With luck, it should work in your favour if you are keen to step down on satisfactory terms and let the school regroup and move on under a new head with minimum fuss. Fingers crossed. Obviously, you need to be mindful of the risk that they would prefer instead to shunt you aside into some awful backwater job, but I’m sure you will have your answer ready on that.

Ideally (for you, anyway), the whose opinion carries most weight in the IHR decision will be responsible for your future salary costs but not your IHR costs! In that happy event, the negotiation might be short and satisfactory to all parties. But it is more likely, alas, that it won’t be that simple and that you will have to put your negotiating hat on and play a cool hand and maybe a longer game than you might choose. But these things do tend to work out in the end, and those scan results, grim as they are, should surely be powerfully persuasive. Good luck.