Am I too young at 48 for Ill health retirement?

My migraines have steadily increased in last few years and having around 3/4 week. Been off work since February this year as can't control them. I have tried all usual tablets and currently trying Gabepentin. My employer has completed final formal attendance meeting and I wondered whether I could push for early Ill health retirement even though my union keeps telling me that they won't look at it as I am too young and there may be a cure in the future?. . (could be a cure for any disease surely in the future). I saw rheumatologist this week who gave me fibromyalgia leaflet and is doing lots of blood tests as I have hypothyroidism, b12, and primary biliary chirossis. She is looking for any other anti autoimmune diseases. I am struggling just being alive (don't want to sound like I'm a drama queen but even when I don't have a migraine I have a constant drunk feeling). I know it depends on the individual pension scheme but I can't believe that I would be automatically turned down because of age and migraine not being serious enough like cancer or such like. Any thoughts? Thank you.

12 Replies

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  • Really sorry to hear that things are that bad.

    I have a B12 absorption problem as well and a few months ago was starting to write my life off - little older at 52.

    There are some rules about minimum age for retirement when it comes to occupational pension schemes so your union is probably right about early retirement not being an option, unfortunately.

    My migraines got worse in the year or so before I was told I was B12D (hospitalised with a broken ankle as the result of a fall ... no information on what it meant and nobody asked me if I had the symptoms - the surgeon (bones specialist so probably not his best subject) wittered on about diarrhea but I still find it a bit strange with hindsight that everyone was so focused on osteoporosis that nobody stopped to think about what caused the fall and if the B12 was involved in that ... and it took me about a year to figure out for myself what B12D actually meant.

    The drunk feeling you mention could also be the B12.

    What treatment are you receiving for the B12? Lots of people have problems with the treatment regime (often the frequency isn't frequent enough) in the UK and struggle with energy levels and everything else.

    I don't have as many health problems as it sounds as if you have (no thyroid problems etc) but it was totally ruining my life and my GP was telling me that my symptoms couldn't possibly be B12 ... which made me so cross that I went away and started using a nasal spray to top up the meagre injections and things have totally turned around for me. Cope much better with stress, can walk, have energy ... few months ago I would have been in bed by 21.00 at the latest (and have felt tired most of the day) and its just gone 2300 now ... I can think straight, migraines still happen but nowhere near as severe and I can cope with being around people ... in fact I'm quite sociable - something I don't think has been true for a few years. When I saw my GP in May he just wanted to fill me up with anti-depressants.

  • My partner was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and retired immediately at the age of 50. He is now 68 and it was a local government pension scheme but I think it would be worth talking to an independent expert as well as your union. The Pensions Advisory Service is a good start pensionsadvisoryservice.org... .

    His health improved immediately he retired and although not good and prone to flare ups and needing lots of rest he has far better quality of life than he would have done if he had kept working. I have migraine and work part time and we often joke that we take it in turns to be ill, but we manage - and it was definitely worth the drop in income. Good luck and keep fighting for a fair deal.

  • What does your neurologist say about all of this ? Sounds like you could take them to tribunal. If you are likely to recover . ( and yes you are when you get on the right regime for you and have the right diagnosis ) even more reason to be allowed a break from work . All too easy when you are feeling so unwell to become a sitting duck for management . Take some advice . Ask your neurologist would cranial botox help . It does for many . There are other medical issues to be sorted for you so you have a good chance of being more symptom free. Peri menopausal state in women is known to be peak time for chronic migraine and you may well improve so should not lose your job over this. Certainly I would be aiming for symptom control and then a return to work on reduced hours . What has occupational health said about all of this? Go back through all the paper work with your union rep or an employment adviser and see if they really followed protocol. Take them to tribunal . You deserve better.

  • What does your neurologist say about all of this ? Sounds like you could take them to tribunal. If you are likely to recover . ( and yes you are when you get on the right regime for you and have the right diagnosis ) even more reason to be allowed a break from work . All too easy when you are feeling so unwell to become a sitting duck for management . Take some advice . Ask your neurologist would cranial botox help . It does for many . There are other medical issues to be sorted for you so you have a good chance of being more symptom free. Peri menopausal state in women is known to be peak time for chronic migraine and you may well improve so should not lose your job over this. Certainly I would be aiming for symptom control and then a return to work on reduced hours . What has occupational health said about all of this? Go back through all the paper work with your union rep or an employment adviser and see if they really followed protocol. Take them to tribunal . You deserve better.

  • I have headaches every day … I take Topiramate 200mg daily and seeing my neurologist again in September. I also suffer Narcolepsy and a chronic lung disorder which results in Bronchitis and Pneumonia. I have not slept for over seven years; I do get to sleep, but usually wake a couple of hours later. I believe they are all related but I am being treated separately for each. Actually they say there is nothing they can do for the Narcolepsy, and although I have been for several sleep studies where all the health professionals expressed concern, nothing has been done.

    I know what you mean when you say about if it was cancer, or some other terminal illness, you would be seen to as a priority. I was out of work for 4 years and 8 months due to my illness. I have managed to return to work, I just don’t tell anyone about the pain I am in and enjoy the salary I earn at the end of each month. It may not be an ideal life, but I am alive. If my kidneys or liver fail due to the amount of Paracetamol I take to alleviate the pain then so be it. I am not allowed Ibuprofen because it affects my lungs and the medication I am on for them.

    I am 47 and am not convinced how long my body will keep going, but I am just enjoying the time I have. I have never smoked and don’t drink alcohol at all … nor am I overweight and yet I suffer each and every day. May be I should try a few vices!

  • Hi I have Hughes syndrome a lot of people with this condition suffer from terrible migraines.

    Might be worth taking a look

  • Hi daisyd, I have just had a look. Wow, how interesting. Sorry to hear you have this. How does it affect you? I saw rheumatologist last Monday and I hope she did a test for this(I did have 10 bottles of blood taken) I do have a a few autoimmune problems I.e hypothyroid, b12, primary biliary chirossis (AMA positive but liver levels OK). I will definitely ask about this test when I get the results. Thanks. It is quite shocking just how many autoimmune illnesses there are.

  • Thanks everyone for your support and advice. I am so worried about not having an income and I feel written off. I couldnt go back to my job even if I had an improvement in my health as relationship has broken down and I do not trust them. My union not much help so I forked out £220.00+vat to see an employment solicitor. I had a chat on telephone before and had a face to face meeting an hour later. Solicitor had a browse over one of my occupational health reports and letter from my doctor and then asked me for my contract of employment and pension scheme details. I didn't have them but had everything else. He told me he couldn't advise me without it and told me it was costing me £22.00 for every six minutes I was sitting there! Why the hell didn't he tell me on the phone that he couldn't help without it?. Why is it that when your not strong and need help people take advantage of you.

  • Hi

    I had to take early retirement at 52, I never really suffered that much with migraine, but as you could see from the Hughes web site a lot of people do.

    My memory is really bad, started with dizziness, brain fog, epilepsy, blood clots.

    Rheumatologists seem to be more aware of auto immune diseases so hopefully you will be tested for it and you manage to improve good luck with your work situation,

    Please let us know how you get on.

  • Hi it is really important that as you are having tests done that you, are tested for Hughes Syndrome/Antiphopholipid Syndrome, often overlooked, this causes terrible migraines due to the blood being a bit sticky, often patients will also have Thyroid issues and also Sjogrens Disease, the blood tests are easy for your rheumatologist to do. MaryF

  • Hi Flower

    Have you got the Employment Advocacy Tool Kit from the Migraine Trust? I think it would be a really good starting point when dealing with your employer. It also offers advice to employers. There are template letters, templates for sickness meetings, it will empower you and it's FREE!

    I don't know what job you do but if you are in a Union they should be able to give you support. Also do you have a copy of your company's sickness policy? Make sure they have done everything by the book if they haven't it weakens their position.. Have you seen referred to their Occupational Health Dept?

    Hope this helps, good luck.

  • Sounds like menopause migraine hell to me (I'm assuming you're a woman). My migraines increased to around three a week. I'm now 52. Been on all the drugs, to no avail. The only things to make any difference to me were Botox and also coming off painkillers. Someone else on this site recommended a book called The migraine Revolution by Martin Brink. It's expensive at about £26 paperback but is very interesting and helped me (although it does debunk Botox as a treatment).

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