Fibromyalgia Action UK

Has anyone there managed to leave a teaching position with the blessing of the occupational physician?. Did you retire or just leave?

I teach and I have been off on sick leave for months now. I have asked to be refereed to the occupational physician as I am unable to go back to work. I am a sufferer of fibro for 11 years and I managed to work full time all this time until now, with just the occasional day/s off when having particular bad days. Of course, I recognise I managed to sustain this for years because as part of my routine, I used to spend every Saturday in bed to be able to recover the energies to be ready for the week. [Sometimes it was Saturdays and Sundays!!!!] I do have a wonderful husband that supports me and agreed that was the best way to allow me to keep my job, while he uses the Saturday to do the shopping and cooking that I could not do as well as the job. I have done hardly anything at home for years, as my grown up daughters helped with the house and also agreed that it was better for me to reserve my few energies for work, as that used to make me happy. Using my head and working was so important for me that I could not think of leaving it. Now I hardly had enough energy to leave the bed in the morning any day of the week after a sleepless night due to pain!!!!

Over the last 18 months the pain and exhaustion got progressively worst to the point where I am using morphine patches and tramadol all the time. I am exhausted 24/7 and my mind is most of the time in "la=la=land" with the fairys! I am not able to drive most of the time as my cognitive skills are not there either.

I am waiting to see the occupational physician to see if I can retire due to my situation now. I am really worry about his/her attitude and my future.If s/he doesn't agree with me, I will still retire but without a pension after contributing to the teachers pension scheme for long. I am almost 50 and after working so hard for so many years, I feel that leaving without a pension wouldn't be fair. On the other hand, I know that some doctors are still thinking that fibro is in our minds, so I am really worry. I am so, so, so very tired of the pain, the exhaustion, the insomnia, the IBS, the ...etc... I am not sure I will have the strength of fight a negative response....

I was wondering if any other member has gone through the same process and can give some tips???



40 Replies

Hi Pochola1

I sincerely hope that you are feeling as well as you possibly can be today? You have asked a very difficult question to answer as this has come up on several posts recently, so I decided to discuss the issue with a contact of mine who is a union representative for Unite the union. He told me that if a person is recommended and then cleared for early retirement through ill health and wants to draw on their pension, then they can be refused by the local authority! I must admit that I am gob smacked by this answer! Even if they are over 55 years of age!

There was something similar in another post (but you have to read the continuing updates) to follow the gist of how it goes (17 posts on thread). I have pasted you the link below:

I have also found three other GOV.UK links pertaining to this matter but I am personally unsure if there are age restrictions to any of these? From what I have read nothing is really set in stone, and just about everything is at the discretion of the local authority or its managerial services?

I genuinely hope that you can find some resolution and relief to this issue, and find a work / life balance that really suits you and your husband.

All my hopes and dreams for you



I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply!!thank you very much for your help. I am going to check the links. It is great to have someone there to listen to you and to receive some replies. Really great to have contact with a community of people that understands you. Really , really, thanks a million!!!


Hi pochola1

I am so sorry to read that you have been feeling so unwell today, and I genuinely hope that you start to feel better soon.

Take care



thank you again. Well, that is fibro, isn't it? I am looking forwards to see the specialist soon so perhaps she can help me to improve enough to not have such bad days. We live in hope!!!

Regarding the information that local authorities can also refuse to allow you to take your retirement, luckily I work for a university but I am sure they would have their own barriers and hassles for me to jump!!!


Oh yes! I can truly imagine that they are just the same? If one organisation can refuse to allow you your retirement, then I would have thought that they are all the same?

Good luck with your specialist appointment and also good luck with trying to achieve your retirement.


Hi there, you don't say which country you teach in or which age group as these can make a difference. You are one of several teachers who have asked this question and there have been other public sector workers asking this question also so a search of questions and posts is probably a good idea.

I can only relate my experience and hope it helps a little. I am still going through the process and I am remaining hopeful for a positive result. I began the process in December of last year so regardless of when you apply for retirement on medical grounds be prepared for a long wait. I have no evidence other than hearsay but other teachers I have known who have gone this route have not had a decision until they are at the stage of receiving no salary, and my own experience backs this up. I think the LA deliberately delay the process till this point.

I was referred to my authority's occupational health service almost as soon as I had been off for two consecutive weeks. I then had monthly appointments to assess my fitness/illness. These appointments were always with a nurse, who I found very sympathetic. She discussed medical retirement and referred me to their physician who assessed me again and wrote a very bland report stating that I was unlikely to return to work in the coming months and suggested 'talking therapies' as these have been shown to work. He was really nice ans seemed very understanding but his report did not reflect the impressions he gave me and the things he said, which was a disappointment.

That was in February of this year, the talking therapy has now been completed and had no impact on how I felt beyond the annoyance of having to jump through even more hoops to prove I was in constant pain. I am now waiting to be recalled to the occ health physician again for a final report which then goes to the Scottish ministers to say yea or nay. The maddening thing is that I am 55 in about 3 weeks and I can claim my pension then regardless. I have put in a claim for PIP which is not means tested but that was only in February and there is a backlog of at least 6 months so I continue to struggle on in constant pain. I am now walking with a stick but can still only manage 50 to 100 metres before I have to stop and go home and even this leaves me in agony for the rest of the day and the one after.

Sorry to be the bearer of less than good news. I wish you luck for the journey ahead, please keep us posted. Linda


Make an appointment to see your local MP. Take documents they have the power. Good luck


Thanks Rubyredcar120

I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply!!

Although I have lived here for nearly 15 years, and work all the time, I am not sure if I can bother a MP????

I can't vote in elections so not sure if a MP would here me.


Thank JeannieMC!

I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply!!thank you very much for your help. It is great that you shared your experiences with me, as if the same happens to me I will know that it is the normal thing.

You asked me where I teach. Though I am not British [so excuse my mistakes], I teach in England, in one of the top 10 British universities. I have a senior position so I have very few hours of my timetable dedicated to teaching. My main job is to manage 10 other teaching personnel and the pastoral care of the students. I have worked with fibro for many years and I have being lucky enough to have equipment provided by Access to Work like special chair, desk, keyboard, mouse, etc... But It has come to a point where doesn't matter what equipment I use.... I can't now get out of bed to start with, let alone go to work and deal with the 500+ students in my charge!!!!


Hello Pocholo, I hope you are feeling a bit better today. I work in early years (Birth to 3 Years), I saw the occupational health physician yesterday, he said I should work as the more I try to do the better I will be. I think these medical people need to live with fibro for at least 1 month, then tell us we should work. My husband doesn't understand the diagnosis and thinks that like the flu it will just go away. Sorry I can't be more helpful. Gentle hugs XX


Thank you SquareD6

I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply and thank you very much for your help and reply.

I am so sorry about the response from your occupational physician!!! That is exactly what I am worry about. Most doctors do not have any idea what it is to live with this awful illness. I get personally very upset when they suggest that it is not so bad. I had studied so many years, to achieve my degrees and my position. The suggestion that I what to leave the profession out of laziness infuriate me so much. I have said to doctors in occasions: Do you really think that after so many degrees and hard work to be were I am, I done all that work and sacrifice to aim for a silly retirement with almost no money??? Do you really think that was my ambition in life? I have lived with fibro for many years sustaining a full time job, which for some doctors was almost impossible to believe, but when I said now, I can't keep going, it is because I can't keep going. My GP supports me and had written a letter to take to the Occupational Physician and the University. Because of it, they were obliged to allow me to be seeing by the Occupational Physician. I am still waiting for the appointment, but I am so afraid...



Not to be 'facetious' AT ALL, but I am 'smiling' at the 'talking' therapy bit LOL.

I envisage someone in a white coat, talking to me in a monotone, willing me to 'get up and walk'. Imagine, if 'talking' were all that were needed to make us healthy again, we'd have been up and running 'yonks' ago. God knows I talk to myself constantly, telling myself to get up and 'go' but my get up and go has gone LOL..

Let's face it, we are a drain on society; we are stealing or may steal, taxpayers money (funny that, I've been one of those myself for around 40 years). Now I feel like a guilty 'scrounger', even though I haven't claimed a dime yet; it's become a 'thought crime' lol. MP Maria Miller with her £90k mortgage 'theft' feels no such 'guilt' so it seems; lucky her!

You can take your pension in three weeks so why not:

1. Hand in your notice?

2. Ask for a 'settlement' agreement and leave NOW; you may get some 'cash' from your employer to 'get rid of you'?? Do they have them in Scotland?

You do not mention your union? Are they not involved? Mine were but proved useless. In fact when the union rep. used the 'we' word, she was referring to my employer and her; that's how bad it got.

I am finishing at the end of the academic year, August. It will be by compulsory redundancy. I had hoped to try to claim sickness benefits; I am taking redundancy as I feel too ill to carry on in my teaching post. Someone on here mentioned that the benefits were all means tested; in which case I will be unable to apply. It seems too harsh to me, as I will not have a lot of money to live on, yet am probably too ill to work?? Harsh but fair?? I don't see it. I will be able to claim Job Seekers All. but the irony; forced to give up my well paid teaching job thru' ill health, but forced to apply for other jobs!! On a good day, I fantasise about doing Supply Work; on a bad day I can just about get out of bed.



Hello jeannie I thought you would like to know that PIP is not means tested but extreamly hard to get. It replaces DLA . Hugs sue


Thanks mayrose, I am learning a lot with all the comments. I suppose I better start to get familiar with all these forms [PIP,...]

I'll try to get on with filling the forms.

Thanks again!!


Hi Jeanie, as Mayrose has said put in a claim for PIP now. It is not means tested but can take 6+ months to process, the only good thing being that whatever you are granted will be backdated. From what I gather, as my claim is in the waiting to be processed pile, is that often it is declined first time round so you have to appeal and many more claims are approved on appeal so although time consuming it is worth it.

I totally agree with you re talking therapy, as did the lovely therapist who said that apart from being in agony every day I was as close to normal as it was possible to get :-)


Thank you for your comments Lruk, I am going to try to start by filling a PIP form. I was not aware it takes so long...

Anyway, you last comment made me smile and feel good. Yes, I think I am like you, apart from the fibro, the restless leg syndrome, the IBS, the chronic pain, the exhaustion, the imsomnia and the migraines, I am super!!!!!

Thank again !!!!!


Thank you JeannieMC

I understand you so well...

The idea that after working for so many years you have to leave without any security is so upsetting...

I involved the union earlier on, but as in your case, it was useless. At the moment I am having advice from an employment lawyer and because of him, I got the letter from my GP supporting me in my ill-health retirement idea that the university has done a u-turn and agreed for a referral. Because they have agreed on these after a letter from a lawyer is also part of the reason that I am so negative about the outcome of the future appointment.

I will have to see!!!!


Hi JeannieMc

I was just reading your reply to pochola1 and thought I would send you a link for PIP. The benefit is non-taxable and not taken into account with any claims / receipts for any other benefits. So you can apply and it will not affect anything. It is the new benefit that has replaced DLA.

If you get them to send you a claim pack, you can take it along to the CAB or Disability Direct and they will help you fill in the form. Mdaisy can also advise you on it if you PM her.

I want to wish you the best of luck with finding some resolution and relief to the issues that you are facing.

If you ever want to PM me to discuss anything please feel free. I always read and reply to all PM when I get online.

Take care



I am in exactly the same position. Just on the last round up of getting my pension. U will have to collect evidence. Be very clear and firm about what you require from your specialist, Doctor etc. this can be done it is your right to have your pension. I am 56 with all the symptoms that come with fibro. You must get what is rightfully your.

Look carefully at the key words in the pension tiers. It's not about how ill you are but what you write and the evidence. go for it . Good luck and don't rush do it very carefully and you wil be able to live comfortably. Take care. Hugs


Thank you Rubyredcar123 again!

Thank you also for your encouraging reply. I have always kept copies of all the letters from my old specialist when I was living in the South West. The letters describe my illness and how bad it was/is. Do you think I should include some of those letters with the recent reports from my current doctors??

Regarding completing the forms, I have been looking for examples of how to fill the forms in the internet. I will be very, very careful. Thank you for the tip!


I am 62 and retired from teaching when I was 50. I didn't have fibro at that point but had been diagnosed with Hughes Syndrome and my consultant and GP advocated retirement after I had been off work for several months and that wasn't the first time. It was a slow process but I was retired on medical grounds and got my pension, but not much as I was part- time. The Occupational Health doctor was very supportive and stopped my boss harassing me with phone calls asking whether or not I was coming back. I was a member of the NUT and they too were very helpful.

I got the old IB until I was 60 and then ESA on appeal (which probably cost more than two years of benefit!) which will cover me till I get my state pension in July. One thing I will emphasise is whatever happens make sure your NI contributions are kept up to date so as to ensure you get your full state pension.

I hope things haven't toughened up too much and you will get your ill health retirement. Are you in a school run by the local authority? Wonder what the position is for teachers employed by academies or free schools.

Good luck!


Thank you Panda60. I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply!!

It is great to know that some people actually had good experiences with the occupational physician.

I work in one of the top 10 British universities, which you would think that as one of the best, it would treat employees well. [I feel that from my experiences, it can't be further from the truth]. I have worked extremely hard for the university, doing extra hours every week [often because in my mind I thought I needed to compensate the uni and my colleagues, for the days that from time to time I needed to take off due to the illness] I know now that it was a total mistake. I am sure that those so many extra hours had contributed to my current ill-health, and when I was hoping my boss would had taken in consideration the extra work, he had used it against me.

I am still a member of the union, but I found little help from them. It was OK while I was asking help for small issues, but when I really needed professional help to deal with the situation, they didn't consider that my problem was important enough for professional advice. At the end, I have to ask for the help of an employment lawyer. It is only because his intervention that the university finally agreed to refer me to the occupational physician. In my case, not only I didn't know how the employment law goes, as I am from a non-English speaking background, I do not know how simple laws work.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience with me. It really gives hope.


Hi Pochola ,I think you need to get them to retire you don't just leave whatever you do .I just left mine because I'm stupid and couldn't go anymore .Ken knows his stuff so its great advice .I wish wish you everything you should have and know how hard it is to keep going,but I tell you this the minute I stopped I started to get really ill and so it continues ,my doctor said I was running on empty .All the best keep going to docs for time off. X


Thank you Matrix for sharing with me your experience. I am lucky in the sense that as soon as I saw the awful attitude of my work and how they were doing everything possible to encourage me to leave, I went to see a lawyer [the union didn't help me much as they didn't consider the problem grave enough!!!]

The lawyer has been really helpful and I am waiting for an appointment to see the occupational physician now, due only to his advice. I am also lucky that my husband also supported me and was happy to sacrifice whatever we needed to sacrifice, money wise, in order to engage a lawyer. The fee is really high, but I am still thankful.

Thanks again


I think the unions lost their power under thatcher and are not much use .I wish people could see the pain we go through and its not as if its just one thing we cope with. fibro has many other illnesses attached to it and all of them painful .I wish you well and would love to hear if this issue gets sorted in your favour .Just don't leave make sure they retire you on ill health xx


Thanks Matrix,

Another problem with the union is that they have less and less members so in order to save resources they do not help you with real professionals. In stead case workers are just colleagues that have completed a 2 day course. Do not get me wrong, I believe sometimes they are helpful, but when you are trying to sort out the rest of your live, you need a professional. I asked the regional office for the help of a professional and I was told the case worker was enough. So, I am not surprised that with time people decide not to join the union or to leave it.

I am determined to fight for ill-health retirement. They have tried since December to make me leave and only last week, with the help of the lawyer, they gave up and agreed to referred me to the Occupational Physician. I am going to go through whatever hoops they want me to go through, but I am not going to give up. I am lucky that my husband supports me 100% and although he is also affected with all this stress and my very bad days, he is still on my side. Thank God there is still some good men out there! My first husband was a very different person and if I would be still married to him, I would had had to give up by now, just not to hear him complaining!!!

Thanks again, All the best!


I really admire your persistence in this matter and I agree don't give them what they ie for you to leave you stick at it sweetie .Im also blessed with a wonderful kind caring husband who does a lot for me .Have you been to a pain clinic yet ,well they taught me one really good thing and that was pacing .So how it goes is you do something say for 10 mins then you relax and rest for ten ,myself I often have to do the relax bit double as I'm very weak and low in energy .it takes forever but I'm always so pleased when I have finished something .The other thing they taught was to stop feeling guilty I don't anymore .We are not ill by choice because if we had choice this horrible illness would not exist .Enjoy the rest of your day xx


Hi Matrix!

I was lucky that when I was first sick with fibro, I was sent to a good doctor. He gave me a diagnostic straight away and following that I was told to do a pain management course. I am convinced that because of it, and what I learned in the course, I have been able to work full time up to recently. Like you, I do not feel guilt. In my case the fibro came about due to an operation that didn't go well. [a hospital action that ended up cutting one of my ears to put it back in the wrong place, when there was no reason to cut the ear in the first place. The operation supposed to be for a ear drum repair!!!]

I took me a while to accept that life wasn't going to be the same, but I took the pain on board and I learned to deal with it, little energy and the tiredness. I believe I done the best I could with my circumstances up to now. I have worked very hard even with the illness and I have sacrificed my leisure time to make sure that my work was second to none, I have worked 11 years full time after having fibro, so no-one can accused me of giving up or not to try . Because all this, I am convinced that I deserve an ill-health retirement. I will persevere!!!

All the best!


Well life is certainly different with fibro. .I have had its since I was twelve so many moons .The worst thing is when you can't do things you love ,you have to grieve that your body lets you down.I mean it can take me a whole day to clean one room ,but I feel like a normal person when I have done it .Its life how we live it ,with all its challenges .xx


Hi, I hope you are having a good day. I have been in a similar situation myself. I eventually got my retirement from the civil service. I had to go to occupational health appointments in london. I also had to go and see a psychologist. I was initially turned down for retirement, and put in an appeal. The whole process (from start to finish) took 18 months. You might have a fight on your hands, but I wish you all the luck in the world. Liz xxx


Thank you so much cutebird.

I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply .

Yes, your comments come to confirm what I am seeing in the other answer: Prepare to fight and to wait for a long time...

I am of the opinion that sometimes in this life people that achieve things is because they are prepared to insist. So I am getting ready to insist and persevere. I feel I am entitled to hope to retire due to ill-health, because it is true. With the help of my husband and the support of this community I am going to persevere, I have nothing else to do, beside cooping with my pain.

I hope I will get there eventually,,,

Thank you very much, really, thanks.


Hi, I'm really glad my message has helped. If you want to ask me anything else about how I got my retirement, please don't hesitate to contact me. Lots of luck, Liz xxx


Thanks Cutebird. It is good to know that there are people that have got throught the process. I may take your offer later on when I start the process. Sometimes I worry about a little thing and it turns out OK, so if I start to panic about something, I may send you an email to ask! Thank you again, really nice to know you are at hand!!



Hi there, I don't post often (in fact I think this is only my second response) I do read lots of posts though and think, that's me, I do that etc....

This post stuck a cord. I was a social worker (working in the voluntary sector in UK for many years) I had to give up or was forced before I was shoved so to speak due to my health issues, for many years I did like many others sleep when I wasn't working evenings, weekends, my life was sleeping, pain and zombie working. Anyway enough about me and my issues which are fybro, poly arthritis (oesteoathritus & psoriatic) CF IBS etc etc.

I put a claim in for contribution based ESA which you get for up to a year whilst they decide which group to out you in ( JSA,WRA or Support group) only if they out you in the support group can you get this indefinitely and it it not based on household income.

that's As I understand it and obviously PIP which based on my experience is challenging to get, but don't give up, you have paid into the system for years and they are your entitlement.

I'm sure I've seen it several time on here but benefits and work ( are fab, you have to pay a same fee for the members area, but they have loads of free good stuff too.

In wish you all the best and hope you get the monetary side at least sorted.

Gentle hugs to all



Thank you Bartyboo.

I felt really unwell today, so sorry for the late reply and thank you for your comments.

I am so thankful to you and the other members for replying to me. Like you, I am not a frequent writer here, although I have being a member for many months.

All the replies I have so far have been so helpful, even the ones sharing negative experiences. Because all negative and positive experiences allow me to realise that the process is not straight forwards, that it is hard, it is long and if it ends up negatively, it is as common as if it ends up well.

I am going to persevere and fight this. I will keep people posted about this journey that I am starting now.

Thanks again!!!!!!


I am a Pension Manager for the Public Sector and I suggest you apply via either your work if your are an independent school, or academy or FE College, requesting an application is put forward for ill-health retirement, if none of the above you need to go via the LA. make sure you have all your records of absence and treatment etc. It is very hard to get ill-health and a very long process if you are refused make sure you put in an appeal. Get plenty of evidence and go to your employers occupational doctor explaining the problems. Good luck


Thank you Irene25.

I work in a University. Luckily I have kept copies of the correspondence between my GP and my hospital doctor regarding my fibromyalgia, so I will select all those documents relevant in order to send them to the Pension people with the Occupational Health Physician's papers. I really hope that they take the time to read them!!!

Sorry to ask a silly question: what is LA? [ I am not a native speaker of English, so abbreviations are a bit difficult for me sometimes]

Thank you for the best wishes, I plan to keep you all posted!!!



Hi there

Regarding ill health retirement, the first thing you need to do is find out which type of scheme you are in, the info is usually online and you will also see what is required for ill health retirement.

Every scheme has different rules and also different appeal rules. You can apply for ill health retirement at any age, i believe, but it can take a couple of years, a lot of heartache through the appeals process, but it is possible to come out of it at the other end.

The claim and appeal process are very unlikely to look at your claim favourably unless you have medical evidence from consultants, not just from GPs. I found that the occupational health doctor they referred me to, was near to useless. I hadnt worked for 17 years prior to claiming, but i will not lie, it was a very stressful time. At times I wished I hadn't started the claim, but it got so far through the system, it was only at the independent appeal tribunal that I felt I was listened to properly.

The company administering your pension will also drag things out as long as possible hoping you will pull out, but don't!

I wsh you luck, but sorry I can't advise re your claim as i doubt 'muchly' that your claim would be same as mine, plus my condition wasn't just fibro.

I hope you get it though xx


Thank you Fibro.

I have checked the scheme and talked to the pension people. They have explained the process to me. They told me that the most important document is the one completed by the Occupational Health Physician, so that is the bit I am most worried about. I hope the OHP is a "not- too- bad- person" and s/he is prepared to at least listen to me. The pension people also said that you can always appeal the decision, but it would be so lovely if things come my way!! I am an crazy optimist, but in my country we say "Hope must be the last thing you lose" I'll tell everyone how that goes for me.



Hi Pochola. I don't know if this will help, but I left my job 7 years ago (was a college lecturer) I deferred my pension when I left. Last year, I was reading through the pension magazine, and I noticed that I could claim my deferred pension due to illness. I phoned my old college HR and asked for a form to claim. They were a bit slow, and I just kept on hounding them until they started to make appointments for me. I went to see their choice of OT. He found in favour for me and wrote a brilliant report which was sent back to the college. I have just heard from the college that they have supported my claim for my pension and have sent the relevant documents to the County Council.


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