How many people have had ill health retirement?

I was diagnosed with RA 2 years ago after being unwell for the previous 18 months and subsequently was diagnosed with scleritis, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. On diagnosis I was off work as i woke up one morning unable to move. I work for the NHS as a radiographer an I am 52. My ESR and CRP were raised. I was off work for a month and then did a phased return eventually returning to my normal 34 hours over 4 days within a month. I had been working 4 days in a row but after 2 months I had to change to have a day off in between. I managed okish for a year without having any more time off but was extremely tired so I dropped down to 30 hours. Throughout this time I was in contact with occy health. November 2010 I was also diagnosed with SVT caused by a conduction disorder(apparently made worse by RA). In February I was working and started getting swollen hands and wrists and the blood vessels in 2 of my fingers had burst. I have been off sick since and when I attempt to do much with my hands they seem to swell. They always seem to be hot.The rheumatologist seemed to think I had tendonitis. The occy health Dr asked me if I had considered ill health retirement . After a lot of thought I think this is probably my best way forward although I will have difficulty managing on a huge drop in money. I have worked for the NHS for 30 years and love my job-it is all I ever wanted to do. When I recently spoke to occ health she mentioned that they dont look at IHR unless you have tried reducing hours etc but at this moment in time there is no way I could continue doing the same job. What if I put in for IHR and they turn me down because I am not ill enough?

Whilst off I am doing a short counselling course which has helped immensely with self awareness. If I do have to finish work then I would consider doing some voluntary work as I need people contact. At least with that I could do hours which suit me.

Was just wondering what other peoples experiences have been. Thanks.

9 Replies

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  • I got IHR from my teaching post after struggling on for years. I was 53. The NHS pension will be similar to the Teachers. You will get added years if you have to retire. I got 6 extra.

    You could also get DLA which can be over £200 per month.

    Even though you have a lower income, your outgoings decrease when you stop work.

    Do as much research as you can. The more evidence you have of trying to keep working - but failing - the more likely you can get IHR. And if you fail, just try again!

    Good luck. Retiring may be very good for your health!

  • Thankyou Phoebe. At the moment I feel a bit in limbo.I feel guilty being off although I know I could not cope in work. I try doing things with my hands similar to what i would have to do in work and within a few minutes my hands and wrists are swollen and then i get tingling in my forearms and hands.When I have scleritis it makes my whole face hurt and my concentration levels are greatly reduced. I can't envisage never working again. My husband says to look on it as a chance to do something I want...but what... I love what I do.

  • I had to retire a bit early from a teaching job. My health is a lot better now, much less stress. You might think about retraining, I had a lot of counselling and have thought I could do that. If u was ten years younger I'd consider doing that through distance learning or something. Work which you can regulate yourself. The other thing I'd say is that with these inflammatory illnesses you rarely stay the same and with the right meds you may feel more able to cope, but with a different way of life.

    Hope you're feeling a bit better today

  • I was diagnosed at 59 and eventually took voluntray redundancy - it's very true what Phoebe says - when you are retired you spend far less - I found that food was costing me far less as I was able to

    prepare cheaper meals, and take longer food shopping economically.

    Cathie also has a very good point - RA can rage for weeks/months and then you get the wonderful remission when you could maybe do some agency work (OK it might have ro be in the Private Sector) and that would keep you in touch with the career you love. Good Luck whatever you decide.

  • Thankyou all for answering. I think I now realise that finishing is my best option. Although I love the job it is stressful and there is a big wide world out there waiting to be explored. What happens though if I decide to go for it and then don't get it? Who decides? Will my occupational health Dr have a big input?

  • Im sure you occ health Dr will have a big input and I hope it turns out well x

  • I took early retirement too - I didn't get IHR in the end, just allowed to take early retirement, so didn't get any extra years but decided that i needed to stop anyway and didn't have energy to appeal or anything. in my case it was my HR department that made the decision. I suggest you start collecting all the information you can to show that your illness is what's stopping you working.

    so I left with just the pension I'd built up, which was less than I'd planned. However, was best decision i'd made. Ok so have less money, but my health has improved hugely as now have the time to look after myself and less stress. If you've done 30 years then hopefully you'll have enough to manage on. Good luck. Polly

  • i got IHR1 year after being diagnosed with RA had no problem getting it i could not do my job i have so much pain i worked with NHS

  • Thank you. Just need to get my head round the fact I will be better off if I finish. My husband is all for it. I can then concentrate on what I can do and hopefully move forward.xx

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