Does anyone know of any organisation that will help me challenge my former employer in releasing my pension on health grounds?

I have found this site to be informative and interesting and will certainly be using your advice when the DWP decide it is time to review my DLA and/or ESA.

Due to my disabilities and ill health I have been trying to progress a request for early release of my Local Authority pension on the grounds of ill health that I submitted in September 2012. My LA pension is with GMPF and is deferred as I left Manchester City Council over 2 years ago after 20 years of service.

My pension should pay out if I am no longer able to work due to ill health. I believe, there are 3 levels that are looked at when looking at this each carrying it's own level of award. 1 I am not able to perform the duties of my former LA role before my retirement date. 2 Am no able to perform as in 1 above before my xth? birthday.

3 Am not able to work in any role between now and my retirement age. I was hoping the fact that the DWP have awarded me the highest rate for both components of DLA and have placed me in the SG for ESA would have some weight when considering my request for early release on health grounds. I guess I should be thankful that my health has convinced the DWP that I am not able to work due to my deteriorating health.

In February 200 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following this there were a number of complications and my overall health seemed to decline. I now suffer with chronic pain from damaged nerves, palindromic rheumatism and fibromyalgia. I am in receipt of highest rate DLA (both elements) and am in support group for ESA. The feedback I have received so far has been very negative. I have been trying to respond to the negativity but seem to be achieving nothing other than my own exhaustion. I have approached Brain Barr Solicitors with a view to them acting for me. They are asking for 25% of my lump sum if they successfully release my pension. They informed me that the legislation around pension claims is different to other types of legal claims and as such I will not be able to claim for costs if the case is successful.

I know, and would not expect to get help with this for nothing but 25% is a significant proportion of my pension. If there is a charitable/voluntary organisation who could assist me in achieving a successful outcome in my application for early release of my GMPF on ill health grounds I would much prefer to pay them for that assistance rather than pay a commercial legal firm who is more interested in their income rather than a 'just' decision on my application. 25% will be a significant portion of the money I will need to put away to help me get to my expected date of official retirement in 14 years.....that is of course if the ConDems don't further extend the retirement age.

I'll be grateful for any advice or guidance in progressing this.

Many thanks

10 Replies

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  • Wow! What a predicament. The only suggestion I have is to contact Citizens Advice to ask them if they have any idea on who to contact, specialist area and preferably at a hugely better offer than 25%! Vultures spring to mind!

    Wish you the very best of luck. Would you let us know how things go? Might help other people! Tulip

  • Just as tulips say's Citizens Advice would be the first point for advice, Your solicitor is seeking 25% of your lump pension payment, Seem's too much for the work to recover YOUR pension..............

    Have a chat with your employment Union, They sometime provide legal advice and can pay for solicitors to help in your claim...

    Your Employer and personal dept should be able to support you and given your medical history, Your pension provider really just need the reason's for your request for ill health early retirement, Your medical reports and a independant medical examination from a GP.

    (Finally 25% of my own pension lump sum would have been almost £20,000.)....Would be better that sort of money would be used for your future care and support....

    Just best wishes and really hope you get some positive results......Remember its your pension....You have payed for it through your long working life.....

  • I've sought advice from my union, Unison. They quite rightly told me I am no longer an employee of Manchester City Council (MCC) and I have had the 2 years unemployed membership which expired in March this year. So in spite of making over 20 years membership fees and never calling upon them for their support in anything else I am not entitled to any Unison assistance.

    As my pension is a Local Government Pension it is my former employer, MCC that decide if my medical condition is such that it prevents me from working long term.

    My GP did write to the doctor appointed by MCC( to assess my ability to work) to inform him that in her opinion, due to my medical conditions, I am unlikely to be fit to work before my retirement age. The MCC appointed doctor does not agree with this and has written a medical report saying that I need to try alternative meds, CBT, graded excercise etc (all of which I am doing under my own supervision having been given advice by medical professionals) and with this there is reasonable. Potential for me to be fit for work sometime before my retirement age.

    I am now waiting for the official response to my request for the early release of my pension on medical grounds. I made the request in September last year. The whole process is exhausting!

    I am trying to get as much information and legal assistance together so that when the (negative) reaponse finally comes I will be ready to submit my appeal.

    I have tried to contact my local CAB but have been unsuccessful so far.

    Anyway I'll let you know how I get on............although I'm not very optimistic

    Thanks for listening and understanding it get me so that sometimes I feel as though I am going insane : /

  • I had the same problem with my former employers, HMRC. I used a solicitor who did not understand exactly what I needed and they were worse than useless in the end however, I did find a specialist who wrote a report that included that I was no longer able to carry out my job and that he could not see me working again.

    These reports can cost up to £1500.00 but are well worth it as I also use it for my claims to Benefit. Your GP's practice/ local hospital or internet should be able to provide you with the name, address, hospital/practice, qualifications and fees of a specialist who deals with pain and is prepared to write a report for you. I know that the fees may seem high but if you succeed, you will recoup your outlay within a few months of receiving your early pension. Another upside is that DWP/ATOS tend not to disagree with a specialist.

    It is my understanding that you can receive £85.00 per week occupational pension before it affects your ESA . From £86.00 per week onwards you can only receive 50p for every £1 paid to you - this is done by reducing the benefit you receive. For example, if you receive £100 per week occupational pension, the first £85.00 is untouched.The difference between £100.00 and £85.00 i.e. £15.00 is then halved and you receive £7.50 and DWP reduce your Benefit by £7.50 per week. Please check this out in case the figures have changed.

    Good luck. S x

  • Thanks. I've had a look on the internet. I can only find the name of one consultant who's biography says he takes on commissions for medico-legal reports from individuals. I can't find any reference to fees but I will make contact to establish these. Who did you use?Where in the UK do you live? Was it he based somewhere near you?

  • Shit!!!!! I was thinking of contacting that company. How Greedy!!! My lump sum wouldn't be enough to pay that out. Lump sum needs to be there to live on. So disappointed.

  • make enquiry into legal aid, you maybe entitled to help as you are currently on benefits.

    citizens advice bureau - someone who has experience in Local Government Pension Schemes. employment law.

    search internet for " local community lawyers"

    TPAS - The Pensions Advisory Service, provide free impartial advice on Pensions etc............

    best wishes x

  • Your employers has discretion in releasing your benefits, Gmpf are there to administer and pay the pension. However there is an appeals procedure to follow if you are not happy with any decision made and it's cost free, ring gmpf helpline on 0161 301 7000 and ask for info on appeals.orcheck gmpf.org.uk. It can be a long process ending up with the pensions ombudsman, but it's therefor a reason. Go for it !i work at GMPF.

  • All if companies have an appeals procedure, please don't assume that it's never going to get anywhere, give it a go.

  • Meant to say all big companies !

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