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Medical Retirement advice please...

Hello all

I was diagnosed with RR MS 20 years ago, and my main continuing symptom has been fatigue, though others have come and sometimes even gone over the years. I’ve been taking Amantadine for about 5 years following a period of such bad fatigue that I had to take 3 months off work. Since then, the fatigue has continued to get steadily worse, and although my employer has been very helpful and I’ve cut my hours, I think that the time has come to stop. I’m a member of the Teachers Pension Scheme (I’m a lecturer) and they have an ill health retirement scheme. Back of an envelope calculations suggest that we’d have just enough to live on if TPS accepts a claim. I am not currently off sick, but I’m not sure how much longer I can carry on.

I would be really grateful for any advice anyone has.

Thanks

Usually applications for ill health retirement follow a period off sick. Your terms and conditions will probably allow for 6 months on full pay and 6 months on half. After this (you don’t have to be of sick for the full year but it would be nuts not to take the 6 months at full pay) you can apply for ill health retirement,

I took retirement from teaching many years ago but I don’t think that aspect of the process has changed.

You can apply for ESA once you have left work but it will be reduced by your pension… The first £85.00 p/w is ignored. After that each £1.00 reduces your ESA amount by 50p.

I don’t know if you get DLA already. If not you can apply for PIP.

Beware cutting your hours too much as a temporary solution because it may affect your pension.

Jane

I think it is commendable that you have managed to take as little sick leave as you have. However, 20 years of symptoms is concurrent with you having aged by 20 years and the fatigue is utterly excruciating. I find it quite dangerous at times and have had to abandon my car at work and pay £30 to go home in a cab. However, I agree with some imortant key points that Jane highlights:- reducing your hours can have a detrimental effect on your pension, and I agree that you would be nuts not to take the 6 months on full pay and 6 months on half. You have paid into the pension and NI for your whole career and you musn’t look at this as taking advantage. You have a chronic lifeline illness (as my psychologist told me recently when telling me to start accepting that fatigue was a crippling symptom) I am currently on reduced hours due to fatigue and I soon will have to call it a day due to the scariness of the fatigue…at times I do think it is downright dangerous I am so impaired. Hope you find a solution that you feel comfortable with, love GIll

I retired from teaching 18 months ago and Jane’s right saying it’s normal to use your sick entitlement first. In fact HR sorted it for me so that my pension started the day after my sick entitlement finished - this way you maximise your pension as any time off sick counts towards your pension too.

Also, you can claim ESA once you go on to half pay. This seems daft as once you receive your pension it is reduced as Jane explained. I queried it with DWP as it didn’t seem right but yes, I received more ESA whilst still on half pay than I do when I’m on my pension which is much less!

Sarah

I have just retired after working as a social worker for the last 6 years although I was diagnosed 30 years ago. I suppose I was lucky as my release for good behaviour took a comparatively short time, I was only off for 4 months and the whole thing was done and dusted in 6. The one thing I would advise is to keep your days occupied, there is nothing longer than a day with no purpose. Well I suppose there is but that is probably a topic for another kind if forum. Bottom line is that the money should be secondary, no point in being the richest corpse in the graveyard. I have some financial worries but they are minuscule compared to the fatigue, pain and stress that working gave me. Take a leap of faith, it may be the best thing you have ever done. Gary

Thank you for these very positive and re-assuring messages. I am coming to terms with the idea that continuing to work through a haze of exhaustion may not necessarily be the best thing for either my students or my colleagues…and certainly not for my fellow road users (glad I’m not the only one to find fatigue potentially dangerous). In some countries and careers, 35 years work would be a full working life anyway, though sadly I didn’t catch on to pension contributions for the first half of that!

I have taken a resolution that if I feel grim on Monday morning, I shall call in sick, and continue to do so until I am either better or ‘retired’.

Interesting challenges lie ahead…