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gavva1

Claiming a pension early, on grounds of ill health

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I left BT via voluntary redundancy in 2009, & my pension was frozen. I had a few health conditions whilst there. (One pre-existing, one as a result of an accident whilst working) I'm currently in my 30s. TPAS advised I may be able to claim an Ill-Health pension for deferred members, the 1st step was to obtain a copy of the rules from Accenture (HR for BT).

 

Accenture have stated that "there are no written rules, we would arrange for an Occupational Health Service (OHS) Report to be compiled, after a medical assessment." I'm familiar with these assessments, they are HEAVILY biased towards the company, & against the individual. This was my experience, & their general reputation across BT.

 

My GP is fully aware, & supportive, of my various health complaints. But if I attend one of these OHS medicals, with a biased healthcare provider, I feel I'd get the same poor treatment I've seen before. & a report that would dismiss them.

 

If anybody has any experience or advice here, I am currently self-employed, doing a Job I can work around my good & bad days. I need to see if I qualify, based on a fair & impartial assessment, which I wouldn't get from an OHS referral.

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You ned to look at a copy of the pension rules. the pension scheme will be managed by a group of trustees. Do you know the name of the scheme you are in? if so then you can probably find the rules online or ask BT or Accenturs again to provide them and if they dont you go to the Pensions Ombudsman and make a complaint that the Company and Accenture will not make them available. This takes time but they will be ordered to get you a copy because the law says they should.

The person you communicated with is either blowing smoke or is a complete tool when they say there are no rules, the Pensions Act determines the basic rules and they join the dots. Write to them again saying your next step is the ombudsman and you will probably get the info you need.

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Hello gavva.

 

I agree with Ericsbrother, you need the Pension Scheme rules on ill-health retirement. I don't know what's wrong with you, but I think IHR could be fairly rare in your 30s. It could be useful to know whether you can claim IHR if you can't carry out your 'normal occupation' whichever that is, or 'any occupation' if that is the way the scheme rules are worded.

 

All schemes have rules and there may be nothing preventing you approaching the Trustees direct once you have more information.

 

Do you still have a scheme booklet? That could be helpful.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Here's the TPAS website advice on IHR. One of the things it mentions is that your illness or disablility needs to be permanent.

 

It's just possible that your section of the BT scheme has other rules, but until you get a copy you won't know.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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The rules will say that it's at the discretion of the trustees based upon satisfactory medical evidence. If the trustees decide that they require an OHS report then that is what you will have to do. There is no legal right to an ill health ER pension, but it is a benefit that can be provided under the rules. The rules however will not stipulate the process but will be 'high level' so to speak. The rules aren't online but you can request them and they will certainly be provided without question.

 

Before you go to the ombudsman you will have to have completed the process, been rejected (why do you think you will be its not even a company decision?) and then go through the schemes complaints procedure.

 

This is factual information by the way not an opinion.

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The permanent thing depends on the rules from scheme to scheme. They often say something like unable to carry on the occupation you were in or were trained to do.

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Thanks for the replies everyone, much appreciated input - ericsbrother - I would go with 'the person I spoke to being a tool' (BT were looking for a company to make a worse job of HR than they already did, & found it in Accenture, woeful) The scheme is run by "BT Pension Scheme, BTPS". However Accenture are the "point-of-contact". Hb, thx for your help on this one also - that's 2 shandies I owe you! :) I've been through the paperwork I have, but nothing is mentioned with regards to Ill-Health retirement. I found this:

 

http://www.btpensions.net/149/section-c-member-booklet

 

Page 15 covers Ill-Health retirement, One of my conditions is Life Long Asthma (since age 5) which is regarded as moderate/severe & permanent, & classed as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act. The other issue is a lower back musculo-skeletal problem, involving disc damage & muscular / sacral facet problems. (L5S1). I am in possession of a Medico-Legal report, related to a claim against BT following an accident in 2007, where the Lead Spinal Surgeon states " at this time, the injuries sustained & the associated low-back problems may be regarded as permanent . "

 

ocelot, I feel that I have a fair & reasonable case to put to them, & that I'm not trying it on here. However, the OHS are known for being heavily biased - this is my concern regarding the outcome of their specific medical. I'll have a dig around for the contact details for the BTPS directly, & try & remove Accenture from the process, if possible. Thx again to all

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Hello again.

 

I think what you need is the specific scheme's definition of 'ill-health'. As has already been said, ill-health can be as serious as terminal illness progressing down to serious illnesses.

 

I have limited experience of this, but I think for an employer's scheme it would usually depend on whether you can work rather than what illnesses you have. Also, as you have left, it wouldn't be as generous as it would for someone who was still employed.

 

The scheme Trustees don't have to use the same OH provider as the company, although sometimes it happens that way. The whole point of having trustees is that they're independent of the company itself. If you can't get any sense out of Accenture, you may need to approach the trustees. Details of that should be in the pension scheme booklet.

 

I hope that makes sense.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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The OHS are appointed by the Trustee rather than the company. You can't cut out Accenture, they administer the scheme on behalf of the Trustee and the Trustee will simply refer you to them. What is your concern with Accenture? They have no vested interest in whether your claim is successful or not and they are working for the Trustee. I understand that you think they gave you duff information about there being 'no rules' but I think what they meant is that the application process is not set out in the rules which is correct, the rules are just high level. I think you misunderstood what they were saying to you.

 

 

I can assure you that if you go to the Trustee direct they will just pass your query back to Accenture as the Trustee does not administer the Scheme themselves. They are however the decision makers and neither Accenture nor BT will have any influence whatsoever on the outcome. Also as part of the process your GP records will be considered by the OHS.

 

 

Just follow the process as it stands and see how you go. I think you are unduly concerned about the influence of BT here, they don't have one in relation to the pension scheme once you have left and Accenture have no vested interest either way.

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BT offer an excellent pension scheme especially before 1984. Things you need to know before making a choice are:

 

Are you married or have dependent children?

 

If you don't you could opt to to a final salary transfer out. In a final salary scheme most of the value is tied up in spouses or dependent benefits. If you are never going to use this it might be worth looking at this option.

 

Depending on how ill you are you may be able to get a better lump sum and impaired life annuity (income). If you are seriously ill (normally with a potential life expectancy of under 12 months) you may be able to claim the full pot as a tax free lump sum.

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