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Teacher Ill health retirement question

Hi, I’ve been advised by my neuro to apply for ill health retirement, and was wondering if anyone else had been through similar? To cut a long story short, I had my first relapse which was a massive one in May last year. It has left me needing a wheelchair and with lots of other problems. Up until then, I had been a full-time primary school teacher. Everyone agrees that I’m not fit to return to work and won’t be in the future, but occupational health need to support my application. They’re saying that they’re not sure enough has been tried to get me back to work, but my Neuro says that there isn’t anything to try. Occupational health have sent for a report to my neuro, and so I’m hoping that he will tell them clearly that I won’t be fit to work in the future. I was just wondering whether anybody else had been through this process and has any advice?

I am just going through the ill health retirement process at work (NHS). I have been working with Occupational Health over the last 18 months to try every possible reasonable adjustment to try and sustain my working, which has been difficult given that my MS appears to have progressed to either secondary progressive or relapsing and remitting but without any remission. The Occupational Health Consultant has been very supportive and we have jointly agreed that the only option left is IHR. We are just waiting for an updated report from my Neurologist and I had a session with a Clinical Psychologist last week and I should be getting a report from her which should reinforce the IHR process.

Given your situatuation of having your first relapse (albeit a big one) I would have thought that not enough has been done at work to explore all possible reasonable adjustments. MS diagnosis and prognosis is very difficult and it is only with time that all the evidence can be pieced together to provide as complete a picture as possible. It will really depend on the report from your Neurologist but if you are hoping to be able to draw your pension early then Occ Health need to make sure that your case is a strong one and that all bases have been coverred.

Good Luck with it all

JC

Hi,

I was a primary teacher in a special school and have been granted ill health retirement. Mine is a slightly different story as I’ve got PPMS although it sounds as if your problems are worse than mine were at the time. Occ Health were prepared to support my application but I wanted to try and get back to work. Sounds like a stupid idea now but I think it was a process that I needed to go through in order to say that I’d tried.

At the time Occ Health said that if I tried a phased return it would beneficial as Teachers Pensions would know that I’d tried! So we put a schedule in place over half a term gradually increasing over that time. It started off as 10-2 twice a week where I would be observing. In reality I only did 2 sessions of these and I went home each time and slept for 3 hours. It was enough to prove to me that a return was unrealistic and I accepted the inevitable from that point.

Occ Health also said that on the forms we needed to emphasise fatigue and cognitive problems rather than physical ones as they would be more likely to persuade the powers that be that I was unlikely to return.It worked and everything went through smoothly and I was granted the higher level of pension. I also got several people to fill in a copy of the claim form so it wasn’t just Occ Health that completed it. TP got the same form filled in by my neuro, my GP and Occ Health and also a letter by my MS nurse.

Hope that helps.

Sarah x

Hi Sarah, I retired from teaching 6 years ago when I was 36. Occ Health had loads of stuff they wanted me to have tried, for example, working on ground floor, reduced hours, flexible week meaning it was spread out, taxi paid for by Jobcentre Plus to work. In my case they helped as it reduced fatigue and meant I could work until school said enough, you’re not here enough to be useful. In other words, every reasonable step had been taken. Having applied for retirement, technically my decision although school fully supported it, I found a problem in wording for full benefit, rather than the what I had earned level, was the word permanent. I was RR MS, and so “could” improve. I also wanted to! Neuro changed MS state to Secondary. This is a permanent situation and it all went through very fast. It was exactly a year after I went ill that I retired. For me, fatigue, lack of feeling in hands - not good in a science lab - cognitive issues and not being able to work enough to make a meaningful contribution without health implications were stressed. I could walk reasonably well just not a distance. Full retirement means I cannot work. I don’t know how old you are or how much contact you get with people in the day. I found it a great relief to retire, to not feel like I should be at work but I also missed the social side of work. I knew in my heart that it was what I had to do and wish you the very best as you go through the process. All the best Andy

Sorry, should have said Hi Nicky! Andy

Hi Nicky

I took ill health retirement from the NHS at the age of 51. Very sad at the time but was the right thing to do.

We tried several adaptations before HR and Occ Health got involved including reduction in hours, air cond unit, ground floor office etc etc but as I was falling regularly the last resort was when I broke my foot at work and was then off for almost a year. I understand it that you have to have taken a lot of time off sick due to your symptoms etc to be eligible for ill health retirement.

I then had several meetings with HR and Occ Health and as I had tried everything to carry on working without success ill health was granted.

Got to say I am so thankful as I now don’t have to worry about getting to and back from work safely.

PM me if you need any further info.

Shazzie x

Thanks for your help everyone…I’m only 38, and 18 months ago thought everything was going brilliantly, until this struck! I have considered what adaptations could be made, but I’m so immobile that I can’t even get in and out of my wheelchair without help. I also have cognitive difficulties, with my memory in rapid decline and a lack of ability to focus and concentrate, frequently forgetting or transposing words. I have bowel and bladder problems which mean that if I need to go, I have to get to the toilet immediately, and I wear pads at all times. I seem to have become hypersensitive to sound, and cannot focus when there is background noise or distraction (not ideal in a KS1 classroom), and it also makes me snappy, irritable, impatient and anxious. I have numbness in my hands, which makes it difficult for me to write etc, and my fatigue can be debilitating in itself. I have now been off for over a year,but after 15 years of teaching I know that I won’t be able to return unless a miracle cure is found. Having had to come to terms with huge changes in my life over the past year, I can’t see how OH can suggest adaptations which will make it feasible for me to return, and to be frank, I’d feel like I was only paying lip service to it if we did try a phased return, as common sense tells everyone, including my school, that it’s just not possible. I certainly wouldn’t want a complete stranger to have to accompany me to the toilet etc. My neuro is still unsure what type of MS I have, but he thinks relapsing remitting, although the remitting stage has left me with these significant problems, which my neuro says will be my new normal - he doesn’t expect to see any further improvement. Well, I guess I’ll wait to see what my neuro says to OH and take it from there, but thanks for your help everyone…it’s good to know that there are success stories out there :slight_smile: