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Ill health retirement advice needed

After my asthma kicked off and became brittle in 2009 I really struggled to carry on working and had so much time off work. I had s/c terbutaline last year which was spectacularly good for a few months and then stopped working for me last September. I have been off sick since late September last year and have now been declared unfit for work by OH.

I have been asked to go to an informal meeting with my manager and the business manager on Thursday to discuss my options. They have said that I could either be dismissed on health grounds or resign - in which case they will ensure that I get all the benefits I would get if I were dismissed. They said that if I go for the dismissal route it will be longer and more formal (and I guess more work for them). They have been very good to date and I think they are making an effort to make this as stress free as they can.

I am not really sure what to do. My husband will be coming with me so I won't be on my own. I suppose my main concern relates to benefits. I am currently getting ESA, will this and any future benefits be affected by my resignation rather than dismissal.

I would really appreciate it if any of you have any advice to give me. I have just had a cold/chest infection and my chest has been playing up leaving me feeling really rubbish and this is not a good time to be trying to think clearly. Thanks.

24 Replies

Can't really help, as. I work from home, with a job that allows me flexablility. Why do you call the helpline when it opens on Monday or try and get an apt to see your GP, for their advice, as well as seeing the citizen advice bureau who will be able to give you advice.


Try and get specialist help before any decision is made as it could cost you dearly if you make the wrong decision.

I am no expert and the situation may have changed, so don't take this as being right...

If you resign from your post, your work have no responsibility to you as it is your own decision. They will just pay you while you work out your notice. If you have to sign on for benefits because you have resigned and have made yourself voluntarily unemployed you may not be entitled to benefits for a set period of time. There is some usefull info at the following link:


If you have a pension and are retired on ill health you may recieve a percentage of your pension payment early. Depending on your health situation your pension provider may say you are not fit to work for one year, three years or for life and put conditions on your pension payments and if or when you get another job or not. Without knowing the full details it is difficult to give you a proper answer so it is important to contact the appropriate people e.g. CAB, Pension Provider, Union, Legal Advice etc.

If you are retired on ill health grounds you can claim ESA from the day you leave work. But make sure you apply well before the date you leave so this is in place for your leaving date. For the assessment period you will need to send in sick notes from your GP or specialist. You may be entittled to other benefits as well.

Ignore this last paragraph just realised you are already on ESA...



I'm afraid I have nothing really useful to add, except to say that (and I know I always say this!) the AUK helpline may be useful here. I've not been in this precise situation but have found them useful on practical asthma-related things as well as medical so it's worth a try in case they suggest something.

Otherwise just wanted to say really sorry you're in this situation - you're probably looking for practical advice rather than sympathy but for what it's worth, thinking of you and hoping things get better. It sounds like a horrible position to be in and I really hope you can get some kind of solution and that things improve (maybe finding someone who can get on top of the asthma a little better and who is a bit more organised about things...).


Thanks Philomela, I was looking for practical advice, but sympathy is always very welcome!!!


Seek some legal advice so your not alone. I would have thought ill health retirement not dimissal due to ill health would be more appropriate but im no expert.

I hope it goes well for you and you achieve the best result.


Hi valj,

I would let them finish you so wont stop you claiming things if you finish.

Think you will be in for a pay off if have no job for you.

The main problem will be if its just that job and could you do other jobs or unfit to work.

You could ring CAB for advice .Sory you lost your job duck xxx


Was thinking about your situation where you have said the company would give you the same benefits if you resigned. Be very careful with this, the company you work for may be honerable, they may not be or the person you are talking to may not be aware of the full situation and give you misleading info. Just make sure you question every thing you are told and check it out with a reliable source of information.

I have had a situation with one company I worked for said yes you can leave at anytime before contract ended to go to another job. At the time compulsory redundancy was on the cards and no mention was made of this in order to save the business paying out redundancy payments. Had I taken my managers advice I would have missed out on a reasonable lump sum of money. Luckily made aware of redundancy situation from other sources.


Thanks for all your replies. I work for the NHS so I would hope that they would be honourable/reasonable. I will be phoning citizen's advice tomorrow if I can to get some extra advice.


Hello Valj,

Sorry to hear this. It is not a situation I have been in but do know several people that have been.

In terms of practical advice, best not to assume the NHS will be reasonable, one would hope so but not always. Make sure any meetings or discussions, however informal are documented and agreed. As others have said, definitely consider what resigning or dismissal on health grounds will mean. Have they offered redundancy schemes or similar in the past as it may come up again?

Check with union reps, they can speak to others in the hospital/trust for advice and what has happened with others in a similar situation.

Did they mention someone like this could accompany you to the meeting too?

Best of luck,



I was also a nurse in the NHS - a community nurse. I ended up resigning from my post after meetings with HR, in which they stated ""they expected better performance..."" - I was getting recurrent pneumonia and had almost been ventilated in ITU, and was using a wheelchair - all of which they knew, and before this I had an exemplary sick record. I kept trying to go back to work, but kept getting pneumonia and went down to six stone. I simply couldnt do it any more and resigned. Of course, HR didnt tell me that I could have gone down the early retirement on medical grounds route. I regret this deeply, I lost a 30K a year job and am now pretty unemployable.

Please please do seek proper advice - from your union (hopefully you are in one!), or another legal advisor, and get support from occupational health. These decisions cant be undone.

Wishing you the very best of luck

Lynda :)



I worked for NHS and although OH was very good the doctor wrote and told my manager she felt I was not fit for work.

If I was you I would not leave, make them dismiss you on health grounds. It is not the easiest route for you or them, but if you resign your benefits may suffer.

Good luck and take advice, union may help.

Lisa xx


If CAB aren't helpful then I would maybe consider looking at other places that can offer basic employment law advice so that you can understand your options. Do you have a union rep?

I'm not sure if either option would affect you should you want to look for work again at some point in the future, so that might be worth considering.

Hope you got on ok with CAB. They can be really useful with regards to basic legal advice and probably have a better understanding of the benefits situation particularly than an employment lawyer.


Thanks again. Today I contacted CAB. They didn't really have the answers to my questions and so I contacted a couple of other agencies they recommended for more advice. One was ok with advice regarding my pension rights and I have already seen occupational health. I am waiting for the pension officer to call me back so I can double check. I am not in a union, but I do have my professional body. Work have said that I can take whoever I like to the meeting.

I really do appreciate all your input, makes me feel that I am not on my own.


What a worrying time - just the stress of it all will make you feel worse so its a vicious circle. I think I agree that its better to be pushed than to be YOU that makes the final decision - they could then renege on all sorts of benefits and entitlements simply because it looks like its you being lazy or work shy, not VERY ILL! Its not your fault you are not fit to work and you know you'd be there if you could so you are not work shy - it does sound like they are trying to push the decision onto you to save themselves a lot of paperwork and possibly a fair bit of expense. Don't be a pushover!

Meanwhile - I hope you do feel better or can find a flexible enough job that you can do.

I am a teacher - currently signed off for my third week of work on a bad patch of asthma, and although its inconvenient for them, if I can't walk from the car park to my classroom without a struggle , let alone use my voice all day - well they just have to see its impossible.


I worked for Nhs ... To qualify for ill health pension I had to pass 2 criteria ... 1 was that my contract was or being terminated due to ill health and 2 that my asthma would not improve before I reached the age of 65 ... The termination process didnt take long . As I was classed as unfit for purpose of employment . Under the capability act . So don't let them make you think it's a long process . My problem was that due to changes and advances In treatment I was told no one could say if I would remain the same til I'm 65 ... So dr based things on how likely it would be plus the fact I wouldn't pass a probationary period in a new work place due to sick time . So was classed as unemployable . Thankfully I got a pension .... But due to this I'm not eligible for any benefits or support . Hope things improve for your health and financial matters


Thanks very much Gussypoo, that is really useful. I am just waiting for the pension officer at work to phone me back, but his initial reaction was that if I voluntarily resigned I would not be eligible for ill health retirement benefits. I am in the pension scheme where the normal retirement age is 60 so that is 6 years off so hopefully I would pass that criteria too. At the moment I am thinking that I will go for dismissal on ill health grounds as it is certainly not my choice to give up work and the decision needs to reflect that.


At your next meeting with management tell them you wish to apply for ill health retirement ... Don't let them talk you out of it ... I was told I wouldn't get a pension as I was too young as i was under 40 and as i only had asthma even my union was in agreement I wouldn't get it .... I stuck to my guns and said I had nothing too loose by applying as management where preparing to terminate my contract . Reluctantly they did follow the proceedure and I got it... I had to state why I considered my self unfit for work . State what I'll effects the job was having on my health and most important the actions I had taken within the work place to improve this ... I hope this is helpful and not insulting if you already know ..


Thank you Gussypoo, this is all helpful info and certainly not insulting. Interestingly, the pensions officer told me when he phoned me back yesterday, that if I am dismissed on the grounds of ill health I would be entitled to full pay for my notice period. In my case that means 3 months full pay which is not far short of a whole years pension!! It's going to take a very convincing offer to change my mind now. I will let you know how it goes. I don't feel so upset now with the whole process with the prospect of 3 months money that I was not expecting. Hopefully I will now be able to go into the meeting with a clearer head and less chance of dissolving into tears!


Update - I went to my meeting on Thursday, but was disappointed with the outcome. I never had a very high opinion of HR and this time it went even lower. Having been told that we were going to discuss my options it doesn't seem that I have any. Because the section of the trust that I worked for was transferred into the ""next door"" trust we were transferred under TUPE and the old trust policy is that they will not dismiss you while the application for ill health retirement is under way - which means that they will not pay me for the 3 months. The new trust info that I was given was different in that they will and therefore you get paid. Having been told that they would ensure that whatever ""option"" I took they would ensure that I was not financially disadvantaged they refused point blank to give me the more favourable terms of the new trust. I suppose I should not be surprised as this is the same trust that refused to fund a pump while I was on sub cut Bricanyl.

I said that I want to apply for ill health retirement so that is now being started so I wil have to wait a few months?? for the decision. Only if that is refused do I have any choices - either resign (and forfeit pay) or be dismissed (and get 3 months pay). That decision is a no brainer, even though they make it as difficult as possible - you have toattend a hearing!!! with a director for the dismissal process. Hopefully it won't come to that.

I have to say that I was very upset and angry, but was pleased that I managed to stay calm and not get upset during the meeting. It did get to the point where I thought what the heck I have nothing to lose now and told the HR manager that I thought they were immoral.

I've settled down now and think - just move on and forget about it. I feel relieved now that this is over. On the plus side I am looking forward to seeing my old workmates to say goodbye soon.

Hopefully this is not too garbled.


Thanks for the update Valj.

Sorry to hear it was not the most helpful, supportive meeting. The trust situation does sound rather complicated.

Perhaps it is time to put this behind you and move on as you say. You have held your head up and coped well on Thursday.


If you do get your ill health retirement take a carefull look at how it will affect your ESA payments. If you end up with ESA in the contribution WRAG group you are only allowed 12 months payments. After this time payments are stopped unless you can get income based WRAG you will have to check to see if ill health retirement pension will affect this. If you are in support group there are no time restrictions and you do not need to worry so much and the payment may be reduced slightly because of the payments.

If I where you I would join your union quickly and get there help. It sounds like you will need it.


Valj sorry it didn't go to well ... I am glad you are persueing it further . It's so easy to give up And hand in your notice .... But if you do that then unfortunately you will end up Being worse off over it .. Stay calm strong and positive .


Thanks very much Gussypoo


Just wanted to say good luck, also that I'm impressed by how you held it together in the meeting as I'm sure I wouldn't have managed to say anything coherent in that situation! I agree it's dodgy to be shifting the goalposts on you even if technically/legally allowed; not a nice way to treat someone.

Hoping you get a resolution soon and can put it behind you one way or the other.


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