The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) provides you with protections if you become too ill to work:
- if you have to leave work due to illness or injury at any age, you may be able to receive immediate payment of your pension benefits
- your employer can approve your ill health retirement after obtaining an opinion from an independent occupational health physician
- if your employer approves your ill health retirement you may get your pension and any lump sum paid without any early retirement reductions, based on your current membership plus possible enhancement (extra pension)
- the amount of enhancement you might be entitled to will depend on how likely you are to be able to carry out gainful employment in the future
Video: Protections for you and your family
This video explains early payment due to ill health, death benefits for partners and dependant children, lump sum death grants for active members and how to make an expression of wish. For subtitles select ‘CC’ (closed captions).
Ill health retirement can be granted at any age, as long as you've been a member of the scheme for at least 2 years. Your employer must be satisfied that you are permanently unable to do your own job and you are not immediately capable of undertaking gainful employment.
(Note: Gainful employment for this purpose means paid employment of at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of 12 months.)
Levels of ill health benefits
There are 3 different types of ill health retirement which are based upon how likely you are to be capable of gainful employment after you leave.
If your employer considers (after obtaining an independent occupational health physicians medical opinion) that you have no prospect of gainful employment either in the short term or before State Pension age (SPA). Your pension benefits would be based on the pension you have already built up at your date of retirement, plus the pension which you would have built up, had you continued to be an active member of the LGPS until you reached your state pension age.
If your employer considers (after obtaining an independent occupational health physicians medical opinion) that you're unlikely to be capable of gainful employment within 3 years of leaving, but are likely to be capable of undertaking such employment before state pension age. Your pension benefits would be based on the pension you have already built up at your date of retirement, plus 25% of the pension which you would have built up, had you continued to be an active member of the LGPS until you reached your state pension age.
If your employer considers (after obtaining an independent occupational health physicians medical opinion) that you are likely to be capable of gainful employment within 3 years of leaving, or before your state pension age if earlier. Your pension benefits would be based on the pension you have already built up at your date of leaving.
No additional pension is added if you are granted a tier 3 ill health retirement.
A tier 3 pension is a temporary payment and will be paid for a maximum of 3 years. It will stop before the 3 years if you start gainful employment or it is decided you are fit for gainful employment at an 18 month medical review.
If the payment is stopped it will normally become payable again from your SPA, or at your request between 55 to SPA, but it would be reduced to reflect taking your pension early.
Limited life expectancy
If your GP or consultant has told you that your life expectancy is limited, thinking about your pension will seem unimportant, but there are crucial decisions to make and we will be able to help you make those decisions.
Each scheme member's position is individual to them, but you may want to know what the differences in payments are between applying for ill-health retirement and dying as a pensioner and dying while you are still employed.
If you have a limited life expectancy, talk to your employer as soon as you can. They can ask us to provide you with estimated figures to compare.
What to do
If you are unable to continue in your job due to ill health, you should talk to your employer as soon as possible.
Do not resign from your post if you can't continue to carry out your job due to ill health, as you may be treated as a voluntary leaver.
Voluntary leavers under 55 don't have access to their pension benefits, and therefore become deferred members, whereas voluntary leavers over 55 who take their pension benefits before state pension age would normally receive them at a reduced rate.
You should consult your own GP for their opinion on your ability to continue in your job, however please be aware that your employer is likely to base their decision on their independent occupational health physicians opinion.
Keep your manager informed of your situation so your employer can take the appropriate action. Arrangements should be made for you to be examined by an independent occupational health physician appointed by your employer.
If you have previously been granted ill health retirement
If you are granted a Tier 1 or Tier 2 ill health retirement after returning to work, having previously been granted ill health retirement before 1 April 2008, or a Tier 1 or Tier 2 ill health retirement since 1 April 2008, any enhancement will be capped.
This may mean that you would not be entitled to enhancement, or it may be reduced because of enhancements you previously received.
If you don't agree with your employer's decision
If you have left your post but were not awarded an ill health retirement pension or you're unhappy with the level of benefit paid, you can appeal against the decision by writing to your employer, setting out the reasons why you disagree with the decision. Appeals must be made within 6 months of the date of the decision.
Please see our complaints and appeals page for more information.
The national LGPS website has more information about ill health retirement.