Pension advice and support please

Hi all, I am being forced into ill-health retirement, (have M.E., chronic pain and RLS which are all affecting each other and I am struggling to function so work is out the window) and was wondering what others experiences have been, as in how supportive was your HR dept? Did you have to fight to have M.E. recognised? What would you tell someone at the start of this process?

The form from work I have to fill in is very odd and I really can't see its relevance and the person in HR over this is off on leave so no help there either!

Thanks for all replies.

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  • Hi Raffs

    I am in the latter stages of OH review and am awaiting result of OH assessment to see if I will get my pension. Varying levels of response from OH over a two year period having self referred initially in Jan 2014. At that time I was told it would be very unlikely that the pension scheme would recognise me/CFS or Fibromyalgia and it would be very likely that I 'would' recover. i have tried so hard to return to work but after 10 months illness in 2014 found it impossible to return to full time hours. I have followed Diet regimes, vitamins, did CBT course, pain clinic, GET etc but have only deteriorated over the passed two years. I have come to terms I cannot return to the role I was doing and certainly not doing full time hours. The organisation I work for will not offer alternative post due to cuts in staffing and the job I do cannot be done part-time (not that that's an option at the moment due to deterioration of health). I have been to a physiatrist, psychologist, neurologist and every other ' ologist you can think of over an 8 year period but have not seen any signs of recovery.

    I am hoping to hear OH decision in the next couple of weeks but I must say, since the process started in May last year, I have found the whole thing to be very stressful which as you know, only compounds the symptoms we suffer. There are times I have felt like resigning and walking away but by doing that I will lose the source of income I have, which I use mostly to fund the tests/treatments/meds which are non existent on NHS. Damned whatever I do. I will let you know the outcome if I hear anything soon.

    I did send the link to the article below to the oh doc which I hoped would prompt her to dig more into recent developments re me/CFS and hope she doesn't dismiss it, as many others have, as psychosomatic/psychological.

    telegraph.co.uk/news/health...

    Good luck if you decide to pursue. I found that although many say it is big decision and one not to be taken lightly, I have not had much choice and that my health has dictated the path for me. No energy/No choice.

    Take care😴

    Jax 😴😴

  • I've been sent a form without any guidance on how to fill and when I contacted HR they told me it was not their job to tell me what to write, I only asked what sort of info were they looking for! - The persons name was supplied on the form as someone who could help!

    God knows if this is the way things are to go its going to be fun!!!

  • Ive not filled out any form at all so cant help you sorry. I dont think i could have coped with the whole process without the union. i wasnt in it initially but joined as i didnt have the energy to cope alone. They have been tremendous with advice, suport and guidance and i would highly recommend you join. If you dont i would head along to the CAB and ask for assistance. regards J 😊

  • If you are being offered ill health retirement as an option then you are very lucky! These days most organisations will try to,dismiss people on grounds that not fulfilling contract.

    Have work offered you anything with regards 'reasonable adjustments' eg reduced hours, change in work carried out. In order to keep you in work?

    If you belong to a union they should support and advise you.

  • Hi Bevvy, thanks for getting back to me.

    There is nothing that work can do for me! I couldn't even drive into work let alone function for 12 hours.

    The Occupation Health Dr is very understanding he asked me what could they do but I knew myself other than someone leaving me to work and a bed to sleep in every few hours and someone to look over my shoulder as I would not be fit to discharge my duties there was no hope at changes.

    Well that's good to hear that I may be on a good path, (pretty damn lousy that employers would get shot of people on grounds of not fulfilling contract). The down side is that even though I may be too ill to work and my G.P., Occupational Health and HR may all agree but the DWP can decide not to give you a pension!!!!

    To be honest the stress of this is impacting negatively on my health - sleep, bad as it was is now worse :( I am being made give up my cherished career and not a soul in the firm to help.

    I contacted an on-line pensions help thing and they gave me very little advice, my local union reps have the brain capacity of a a dead lizard that had been born without a brain and the matching personality! I am to call the unions head office tomorrow for support, hopefully I'll get some.

  • Am glad to hear you are in a union. Good move to contact head office. You've paid your subs so now need an appropriate level of service to ensure you get a fair settlement. If branch reps no use then Union will have to supply someone who CAN represent you appropriately. Including filling out HR forms! Would avoid getting assistance from HR - they will want to get away with offering as little as possible!!

  • Thanks Bevvy. The woman from HR was a real b1tch, totally disinterested. In my 'HR meeting' she was on the phone, (didn't even have the courtesy to attend), and very unhelpful and appeared incapable of doing her job, whether that is an intentional thing or not I couldn't say! Her name was on a sheet attached to the form as someone to contact for assistance! I doubt I'll be contacting her again.

    I wonder if I can force her to attend my final meeting in person? I think its unfair to have that one done over the phone. I wonder what would happen if I refuse the meeting until she appears in person, anyone any ideas?

  • I have never heard of such a serious meeting to be done over the phone!

    PLEASE contact your Union and arrange proper representation

  • That's what I thought! This woman is taking what for me is one of the biggest things in my life and treating like its a inconvenience for her.

    I have not got the mental capacity or physical energy to deal with a lot and HR are certainly not making it easy for me.

    And this is before I have the hassle of DWP! Anyone any experience of those ones?

  • Thanks Bevvy, (sorry for delay in replying!).

    Yeah I will be. I am sorely tempted to ask for an alternative person to be used but not sure if this is possible or will they make things for difficult for kicking up a fuss!

  • Hi Raffs, I just red your comment on Ill health retirement.

    I have also being off sick since September due to work related stress.

    I feel really uncomfortable with new changes in NHS management feeling bullied and harassed. I received the Formal Meeting letter Today. At the end they saying if my illness caries on they will either redeployment or dismiss me on ill health grounds.

    I am suffering with panic attacks, anxiety depression also have been suffering hypertension and mild COPD. I have fear threatened all these mixture of feelings. I feel I can't cope with my own life and being effected with my day to day life etc.

    I have an appointment on 22nd of March with OH Dr. I am so anxious and scared. As you say you can't get help from union. They are useless. I hope it all works well for you. xxx

  • Thanks for the reply. I hope things work out for you too, NHS management, (for those that work in a caring field) are quite uncaring.

    I'm lucky, the occupational health Dr is very understanding. I have resigned myself to the fact that if there is not a miraculous change in the next couple of months I will loose a job I love. In saying that if I need to be off to recover, my health must come first.

    Take care.

  • Thanks for replying. I love this Web so much. Everyone is so caring. I agree with you health comes first. All the best xx

  • Hi Raffs

    I was in the same place as you 2 years ago. I have ME and fibro and had to leave my career due to ill-health. I was exceptionally fortunate and was awarded a pension. I think the key factors were having very supportive medical reports from my OH doctor and my GP. I gathered together all the info from all my medical appts over the last 5 years (supplied by my GP practice - computer print-out).

    That covered hundreds of GP and hospital attendances and trying new prescriptions for pain-killers etc. I'd also been through the regional ME occupational therapy course (now defunct) and a chronic pain course for fibro (physio's nearly killed me! - no idea about ME) summarised them and put them on 2 pages and gave them to both doctors so they had all the relevant info for their reports. They're busy people - make report-writing easier for them!

    I'd worked for 28 years with the same organisation, had to fight tooth and nail via the unions to get feeble reasonable adjustments, but they didn't help.

    Anyway, the bottom line is, you need to provide as much evidence as you can that all possible medical procedures / medications / training courses / reasonable adjustments have been tried for your conditions and that there is nothing else left to try. This helps support the idea that the disability is permanent, ie the chances of recovering sufficiently to return to work are diminishingly small.

    All that info was sent off to the pension company and 3 doctors sat, considered the evidence and thank-you God, they awarded the pension.

    I do sincerely hope that you achieve a satisfactory outcome. Leaving my job was the hardest thing I'd ever done - I cried for 2 days straight when I realised it was my only option. I still miss it hugely, but when I have a better day and am able to go for a short walk on a sunny morning, I am immensely grateful that I can enjoy that and can spend what little energy I have with my family, rather than spending it all trying to keep my job and coming straight home to bed to sleep. Good Luck!

    SickandTired Girl

  • Thanks for the reply S&TG.

    I was at the Occ Health Dr recently and explained I am trying a new treatment and wont know the results for another 3 months. He said he would tell HR that there is a slight improvement and to wait until this trial is over, (he told me he had asked them to hold off on another pt as they had a year to wait but they terminated the contract anyway b@$t@rds).

    He also said that he had another woman in my position and he recommended a Tier 2 pension which she had got and he would be doing the same for me if the treatment doesn't work. My GP is sympathetic and I have a number of conditions, (M.E, RLS, Chronic Pain from damaged back, torn cartilage in both knees, insomnia and I'm being investigated for Narcolepsy!), all of which are affecting my mood and I can't take antidepressants as they make the RLS intolerable.

    I have tried everything I've been offered and work cannot make any changes as I cannot even drive to get to work and the metal fog would make me a liability. I am now off about 14 months and sick for 2 years, (although Occ Health thinks things were manifesting earlier than that!) and HR are looking to get shot of me, (so much for being a good employee!).

    I would imagine I fulfil the criteria for the Tier 2 but I know these guys do not like paying out and the worry over my finanical future doesn't help things :(

    I love my job it is the only job I stuck at for more than 18 months, (been 20 years in it this year). It is heart breaking to know that it could all be over in 3 months. I am not one give to tears but I had to fight hard to keep them back at the last meeting with HR when I was told I was to start the ill-health retirement process as the reality of the whole thing hit me for the first time!

    Thanks again for your rely, its comforting to know that someone is getting justice :)

    Take care.

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