NHS early retirement pension due to i... - Fibromyalgia Acti...

Fibromyalgia Action UK

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NHS early retirement pension due to ill health


Dear members

I have recently had my application for early retirement refused.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and struggle with day to day living and have been off work since May last year.

My employment has now ceased due to my ill health too so at the age of 47 I am feeling rather low.

I have seen cardiologist and was found to have grade 1 diastolic dysfunction high blood pressure which was at stroke levels before finally getting under control, I have seen physiotherapist, lung specialists, rheumatologist and neurologist I have had borderline abnormalities in the blood such as mildly positive ANA, raised ferritin and low haemoglobin.

I was refused under the grounds of fibromyalgia being something I can get better from in the next 2 decades??? I am Hopi g this is true but in the mean time I am in need of the extra financial benefit my pension would give me since I am currently still unable to work.

Has anyone else been in this situation and how did you fair with appealing ???


46 Replies

Hi Cathy. my friend was in your situation and never got any retirement and he was hopeing for a lumpsum also got nothing .kept handing sick lines in and all the hassle with the DWP with the fight and assessments he is eventually got ESA support group and pip although just got yet another assessment for the pip. It is all a fight .I do not no much about employment law but there are options out there but I'm afraid it is a fight .I would maybe discuss your options with citizens advice about the employment side and the other side .hope you can find the answers

CathyCD in reply to Ajay575

Hi Ajay,

Thanks for your quick response and good idea about going to cab. Think will try to get an appointment with them this week to see if they have any hope of me appealing.


Hi don’t know how old you are but my daughter is 53 and just been pensioned off by a public service pension ,she has fibromyalgia and other things wrong they were extremely kind to her and had her pension raised to as thought she was 67 ,I don’t understand what has gone wrong with your nhs pension maybe different areas have different ways of doing things she lives in Lincoln can you appeal ? Sorry just seen your age

CathyCD in reply to newlands

Hi Newlands,

I also live in Lincoln!!

I am 47 yrs old so obviously a long way off retirement age and worked in a Dr's surgery for 18yrs. I collapsed at work last May where my bp was at stroke levels and had an ambulance called! Good job I was in the right place!!!

Work have been very supportive and have tried to keep my job open but as everywhere in the NHS staff shortages etc they had to let me go due to ill health and because of the role I had with the public I wouldn't have been safe to do my job as a HCA/ Phlebotomist. Needles, shaky hands and dizzy spells amongst other things that go with the fibromyalgia it wouldn't bode well!!


newlands in reply to CathyCD

I hope you are going to appeal

CathyCD in reply to newlands

I am seriously thinking about it, just need to get my head together and look into as much amo I can fire at them as possible!!

Just hope the stress isn't going to be too much?? It was bad enough going to esa and pip assessments!! So draining on our low battery levels😊. Worth a try though. I think their argument is that I could get better in the next 20 years which is all well and good but not sure how that helps me now?

Take care


Are you in the Union at work? If so, they should be able to obtain legal advice from one of their full time officials, shouldn't they?

I think the thinking behind this is -could you return to employment with them in a different role in the future .

But surely getting those two significant benefits should support your claim / appeal + all your medical evidence ??

Can the Stroke Association help with advice and/ or a short term financial grant / assistance (even though you didn't actually have one diagnosed)?

I suppose you'll have to keep trying various organisations till you get the support & advice you need :

Union, CAB, Turn2Us, Scope.

Thanks Mary,

I will look into that. To be fair I didn't tell them I was getting enhance pip and enhanced ESA so in support group as I presumed that it was seperate!

My brain hasn't been working very well!!🤔

In hindsight I wish I had written a lot more and given them more info. I was just annoyed they wanted to know what my employment roles have been over the years which I presumed was them to see if I could go back to any of those? i,e dispenser, Nanny, shop assistant, care assistant, cleaner!!! I have done a few things since leaving school. Found my passion with the NHS especially at the Dr's surgery I worked for until they had to let me go as the Dr stated she didn't think I would be able to safely continue with my role.

Work have been wonderful and they've said if I have any change to let them know and they would do their up most to give me some hours.

Kind regards


I think that's what it's all about. Whether or not you will be working for them again in any capacity ???

I would check this all out with some independent advice (legal via union or charity Scope, CAB & others mentioned in replies ) first.


Hi Cathy,

My daughter is 33, and will be going through the same process as yourself very soon. She has been of since January this year. She has been told that she will not be eligible for ill health retirement because she wasn't paying into a pension scheme, but she's not sure now what her options will be, so will be seeking legal advice.

I would contact Citizens Advice, or there is a trade union for disabled people called TULIP, but I think you have to join before they will give you any advice.

Good luck xx


Thank you for that useful information, I will look into that.

Kind regards and hope your daughter gets the help she needs.

Kind Regards Catherine

Hello Cathy, may I suggest that you contact the benefits helpline for FmaUk, the number is 0300 999 0055, and is open 10am to 12noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Hope they can advise you. (I am very unsure about where they got the evidence that people can get better from fibromyalgia!!)

Good luck and take care xxx

HI Phlebo123

Thank you for that bit of info I will definately do that.

So am j so a bit annoyed to say the least,

I know some people have stated they have got their fibromyalgia under control to have a normal life so whether that's where they have got their info on!!??

I have tried everything I can think of to help myself even paying for oxygen therapy. I had 20 sessions building up to the highest safest pressure. And was told I would notice a difference after the first couple of sessions but for me it didn't help at all which I was very disappointing,

I have tried gentle yoga, gentle Pilates, swimming and all have left me feeling exhausted and in a lot of pain in fact I couldn't do half the stretches on the yoga or the Pilates and swimming I could only just manage 2 lengths of the pool and during those too lengths I was getting a lot of pain and very short of breath.

Before I became ill I was very active, running 3 times a week and brisk walking with the dogs twice a day for over an hour in the evenings when I got back from work.

I am lucky to get around the block now and have to use crutch the lung physio gave me! Gutting isn't it😟

Hi I would like to know how you go about applying for early retirement as I am struggling with my arthritis and my wife suffers for MS I would be glad of any advice, I hope you find some success take care.

CathyCD in reply to jaylows

Hi Jaylows,

I spoke to my bus pension adviser who got a form sent to my employer who filled in her bit the Dr filled her bit in then I had to fill mine in.

Ring your employment pension office and ask for the forms to request for retirement due to ill health.

It seems you have to have tried absolutely everything to improve before they consider your application so be aware of that.

Good luck and hope you have better luck than I have😊

jaylows in reply to CathyCD

Thank you very much Cathy, sounds like it will be complicated, form filling is so stressful, I think they should make easier for people to retire early due to illness as there is people who are still fully fit work into there 70s, best of luck take care,,

Meant NHS not bus!!!!

Hi Cathy I did get my Nhs pension but I was 60 at the time. I wanted to make the point that they deduct this off my enhanced ESA. Plus if you have a lump sum that may take you over the savings limit for qualifying for ESA. PIP is not means tested. There are lots of good suggestions here of where to ask for advice. I wish you luck. P.S. I live in North Hykeham xx

hi, sorry you didn't get your pension. I got my nhs pension at 52 years without having to appeal, I was told by manager if I didn't get it to appeal. have you got good backing from your occupational health x

Hi cathy i got medically retired from my job .no pay out but luckily i got esa and put in support group .just apply .bugger nhs x

Hi Cathy, It really is shocking that you can't get early retirement due to your condition. It is about time Fibromyalgia was recognised for being the debilitating condition that it is!!! Is there any Dr or anyone who could help you appeal this decision? Would your Consultants not submit a report to them?

As far as I am concerned fibro definately gets worse with age, mine definately has. I am on basic pip benefit and citizens advice told me I should be getting esa also. They applied for me and I started getting esa benefits then I was called for an assessment. My son came with me. I was in for all of 15/20mins after waiting for an hour and I have knee and back problems so it gets painful having to sit or stand in the one place for too long.

I presumed these health workers would know all about fibro and that there are over 200 symptoms. I was asked when diagnosed and how often I took flare ups 2/3 weeks was my answer. I got the report back and benefit was stopped. Apparently I take flares every 2/3 months . I have a walk in shower( which I didn't have at time of assessment and had difficult climbing over the bath to shower. I cant bath as my knees lock and have only recently had a wet room installed. My family all live 5 mins from me. None of my 3 sons live anywhere near me. I go to the local shop 2/3 times a week and can carry my shopping. It went on and on.

Citizens Advice told me the reports they are getting back from people are full of lies and they want me to now go to a tribunal. I don't feel well enough to be honest. I am in chronic pain every day. I have sat and just completed a 13 page letter about all the untruths and gave them the addresses of my 3 sons. I cant bend my knees back as their is damage there and was advised there wasn't an operation that would help. The Assessor said on my report that she examined my knees and everything was fine. She used the wee reflex instrument and that was the extent of my knee examination.

I was told they get 280 pounds for every assessment they reject by citizens advice. My pip appointment lasted over an hour and was fairly indepth and citizens advice said it is normally harder to qualify for that. I have said in my letter that it would give me great pleasure to be able to take a wee job, my family know this ,but most days I can't even get dressed I am in so much pain.

I wrote down many of the symptoms of fibro and advised that "I presumed" their assessors were fully aware of these. I think not somehow!!! I don't want to get anxious and nervous about putting myself through a tribunal. I believe I will get my state pension in July and esa would stop then anyway.

I really do sympathize with you but if you have to be off work through the fibro a lot of the time then you employer will just need to put up with you not there ,though maybe that will affect your wages which I hope not? It says on my report also that I looked "well kempt" they do not realise showering, getting ready, and trying to make yourself presentable to go for a medical assessment is a huge effort and knocks the stuffing out of you. My pain clinic consultant when I told him this was called "pride" as I have always tried to make an effort going out anywhere, advised I need to try and keep that up and do things I normally did though he knows it is a struggle for me.

I am not expecting my letter to change their opinion but want them to know the untruths that were written on my report it's awful really what is happening to people who have fibro, because you look ok people have not a clue as to the pain and other horrible symptoms you are having to live with on a daily basis. No wonder it is called the Invisible Enemy.

I wish you well Cathy and hope something can be done and maybe some medical reports given to your employer would help. They don't realise we would be happy to work or keep on working if we could, and would swap fibro for good health anyday to allow us to do this. Sorry for my huge message. Good luck x


Only just seen your message hun- I too retired from NHS with fibro CFS and anky spond.but I was 61! Pensions will not offer you retirement if they can get away with it.. Do you get PIP and ESA? Could you cut down your hours and are you onboard with Union like Unison?? I was and i do get both benefits..Ask the union rep for full support, mine got me retirement after an appeal and intervention from Occ Health and Central personell. You need a lot of backing as I didnt have the knowledge I have now.. dont give up, even if you cut right down your hours and get ESA support plus PIP, those peolpe are there to help support that need.

CathyCD in reply to Hidden

Hi Nurse Gladys😊

I have been successful in getting enhanced mobility with pip and lower rate in living. I was also able to get enhanced ESA so I am in the support group now

Because I worked for a Dr's surgery I didn't have an occupational health person but the gp's where I work have all been wonderful. I can't fault them. They were able to keep my position open for just over a year but due to my health they have had to let me go. They have said that if at any period of time I feel able to do a few hours they would do their up most to give me some hours.

I hadn't been able to do any hours in the whole year and a half I was off work as I have felt so I'll. My Gp wrote to them stating she didn't feel I would be able to return due to my ill health.

I have only just seen the pain clinic at our local hospital so will see how this goes as I have been put into their fibromyalgia group not really sure what this will entail as yet so it's watch this space!!?

Thank you for your help


Hidden in reply to CathyCD

You seem to get evrything you should really, the only other thing I can suggest is looking at getting your outgoings down like change G&E supply I use Green Star Energy unlimited use, c.tax can be looked at and reduced/paid for you, any credit or store cards look on a comparison websight and find the 30 month pay back scheme at 0%, food shops-I shop online if you have a local Asda they will deliver an order min. 25.00.. all these things make managing money better..

I am sure with all your illnesses you would qualify for both ESA & PIP It is worth giving it a go If you do not ask then you do not get

Best of luck to you


Hi also like you have lots of different health conditions I'm,, 63 and also refused my pension good luck


I've read this with interest as i'm due to see the NHS occy health Dr this week about early ill health retirement with my fibro. I'm 59 and struggle to manage. Work have been very good and we have tried all sorts of shifts and things to make life easier but i've come to the end now. I havent applied for pip yet which is something else i need to look into. I hope i'm successful!

Hidden in reply to Jennyw59

Go for it hun, dont take no for an answer with pension try to get some medical backing from gp, maybe physio, oc health.. Pip is proving hard but many who are refused first time succeed on appeal and it is backdated.. Have you managed to get ESA, did you claim your holiday pay from work>

Jennyw59 in reply to Hidden

Thanks Nurse Gladys

I havent stopped working yet just occy dr for advice on retiring x nurse jenny

CathyCD in reply to Hidden

Bless you. Thank you NurseGladys😁. I feel more determined to go for it. I havd spoken to colleagues too who have all said to go for it but to get more support to show I've tried everything. I think I have 3 years to appeal. I've been put into a fibromyalgia pain clinic just waiting for the appointment.

It's a 6 week course and I would go twice a week. Not sure of in'sand outs of it but willing to give it a go if gives me more amo. If it helps then that's great but it doesn't solve the fact that my work place were advised by my Gp that I would be unable to do my job as I am. I have to use a crutch which physio gave me after I was struggling to use a walking stick due to pain and cramping in hands!! I think you just feel as if been slapped in the face and they're trying to do everything to make it difficult for you as if you haven't got enough not contend with!!

CathyCD in reply to Jennyw59

Hi jenny

Good luck with your ESA application. Just remember when filling it in how you feel on your worst days😊

You can go down the 'disability at work act' but that stays on your work record permanently and I'm not sure how far down the line that can be put into place. But ill health retirement is usually a5 the end if the employment line so to speak. You should be able to get ESA but citizens advice will know .

I went through the same thing but with an insurance company that provided ill health pensions for my employer. Initially they too claimed I might get better, so I asked for a report from my Pain Management Consultant. He said an independent report from someone who had never treated me would be taken more seriously. He referred me to someone else who reviewed all of my medical records. He wrote that I suffered from Chronic Pain, he was surprised I had managed to work for as long as I had, that in his experience people with my levels of pain had to give up work sooner and that there was no prospect of me working again in any role. That did the trick and the insurance company reversed their decision. The report cost me £2,500 but I asked the insurance company to pay for it as their unreasonableness had caused me to have to resort to paying for it. They agreed. I then claimed ESA and PIP and got Support Group and on appeal, a double Enhanced award for PIP.

As you are in a Union, they may well pay for an independent medical report to use in an appeal. I was not working in a unionised company, so my options and support were much less.

It's a nightmare isn't it you have to jump through hoops to get money you've worked hard for! Can't see how they can decide if you can or can't get to your own money when you really need It!!??


Hi Cathy, I worked for NHS for 16 years and was also off work for over a year. Of course I went through the whole HR process and it all ended with them saying they wanted to terminate my employment on ill health grounds. The HR woman did ask how old I was and when I said 43 she said I was too young to get my pension. My union rep got me a 3 year career break on medical grounds instead..so at least there is an option there to return to my job at same level should I get better in that time. In the mean time, I am claiming ESA support group and PIP...and my pension is safe for later on In life. Hope you manage to get sorted..I know your battle..xxx

Hi again Cathy, on another note from my previous reply..I also had a colleague from work get finished off on health grounds as she had MS and she got her pension early..however because she got her pension (which was not that much monthly, but she got a good lump sum), the benefits people told her she was not entitled to ANY money until she had only £5000 or £6000 left. considering your pension has to last you the rest of your life..is it even worth claiming it if you can get benefits and manage on that..just a thought

Jennyw59 in reply to Amandaok1

Hi I thought pip was not means tested?

Amandaok1 in reply to Jennyw59

no she gets pip but nothing else..I.e ESA.. housing benefit..income support etc

CathyCD in reply to Jennyw59

Hi jenny,no it's not means tested you're right.i actually contacted both ESA and PIP which I receive both and was told you can have a million pounds in the bank and it won't effect your benefits. Tried to get a reduction in council tax but partner earning too much!

CathyCD in reply to Amandaok1

Thanks Amanda I suppose my thought would be if manage to get pension early would put lump some away somewhere with good interest rates??

Jennyw59 in reply to CathyCD

Unfortunately women of our age ( i'm 59 ) have been shafted by the gov. No state pension till 66 and no advance warning to pay into extra pension to cover the gap. My lump sum will have to last 7 years and cover shortfall in pension salary and living expenses so by the time I get state pension that will have run out. Gutted this disease has cut short my working career and will leave me on a meagre sum x😣 if you find a good investment rate let me know! 😁

CathyCD in reply to Jennyw59

I certainly will😉😂. It's a pittance the NHS can leave us with and not like someone stated get given a choice about going into new pension it was done automatically. Which also makes it more complicated when trying to get pension early due to ill health as you have old and new to deal with!? Very confusing.

Jennyw59 in reply to CathyCD

Yes that must be complicated. Luckily I remained in the 95 section so pretty straightforward although I believe there is an external agency I have to go in front of to judge wether I get Tier 1 or Tier 2 ill health retirement which I am not looking forward too! 😣

I was just reading this with interest. I worked 3 years as a doctors receptionist and was unable to go back to work when my disabled daughter was born. I am wondering would I have a pension to come? I am 60 atm

CathyCD in reply to sammtank

If you were paying into a pension you will but with only 3 yrs working in NHS it won't be a great deal, but it will be frozen until your retirement age?


If you were in the nhs pension then yes. Contact their pension dept to see if you can claim it now! Won't be much but every little helps! Good luck xx

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