If you have at least 2 years’ pensionable service, you may be considered at any age for an ill-health award.
Before deciding to make such an award, the FRA will seek the opinion of an independent qualified medical practitioner (IQMP).
There are 2 tiers of ill-health award – lower tier and higher tier.
The lower tier award provides a lower tier ill-health pension only; a higher tier award provides a lower tier ill-health pension plus a higher tier ill-health pension. The award made will depend upon your length of service and the extent of the disablement which causes you to retire.
If you have at least 2 but less than 5 years of pensionable service and are permanently disabled for the performance of the duties of your role, you would be entitled to a lower tier ill-health pension upon retirement, i.e. a lower tier ill-health award.
If you have at least 5 years’ pensionable service, are permanently disabled for the performance of the duties of your role and your disablement also means that you are not capable of undertaking regular employment, you would also be entitled to a higher tier ill-health pension, i.e. a higher tier ill-health award.
“Regular employment” in this context means employment for at least 30 hours a week on average over a period of not less than 12 consecutive months beginning with the date on which the question of your disablement arises for decision.
How a lower tier pension is worked out
If you have less than 5 years' pensionable service, the lower tier ill-health pension is worked out in the same way as an age retirement pension:
1/60 x pensionable service x average pensionable pay
Assuming your average pensionable pay is £30,000 and you had completed 3 years' service at the date of retirement, your lower tier pension would be worked out as
1/60 x 3 x £30,000.00 = £1,500.00 a year.
If you have 5 or more years' pensionable service, the lower tier ill-health pension is worked out in the same way as a deferred pension. For example, assuming that you could have completed 30 years' service by age 55 but have completed only 12 years at the date of retirement, and your average pensionable pay is £30,000, the lower tier pension would be worked out as
12/30 x 40/60 x £30,000.00 = £8,000.00 a year
How a higher tier pension is worked out
This is worked out in two stages. The first stage assesses a pension including an enhancement of service; the next stage deducts an amount equal to the lower tier pension from the enhanced amount. The difference is the higher tier pension.
The enhancement of a pension depends upon your length of pensionable service. This is illustrated in the table below (where "APP" means average pensionable pay).
Enhancement according to length of pensionable service
5 or more years, but less than 10
|each year of service will reckon as: 2/60 x APP
10 or more years, but less than 13
|the formula is based on: 20/60 x APP
|13 or more years
|the formula is based on: pensionable service* + 7/60 x APP
*each year of service to 20 years = 1/60; each year of service after 20 years = 2/60ths
The total pension must not be greater than the age retirement pension that could be achieved at the normal pension age of 55, or age 60 in the case of Station Manager B and above. (Remember that an age retirement pension must not be greater than 40/60ths of average pensionable pay.)
Assume that, in addition to the lower tier pension, you were entitled to a higher tier pension. You have 12 years' service. The enhanced pension worked out at the first stage would be based on 20/60ths of average pensionable pay. With average pensionable pay of £30,000.00 this would give
20/60 x £30,000.00 = £10,000.00
Your lower tier pension was assessed as £8,000.00 a year and so the next stage is to deduct this from the £10,000.00 worked out at the first stage
£10,000.00 - £8,000.00 = £2,000.00
In this example, with entitlement to a higher tier award you would be paid a lower tier ill-health pension of £8,000.00 and a higher tier ill-health pension of £2,000.00 a year.
If you had a period of part-time service, both the lower and higher tier pensions would first be worked out as if your service were whole-time throughout, and then pro-rated as explained in the part-time working and your pension section.
Part of a lower tier pension (but not a higher tier ill-health pension) can be converted to provide a lump sum – see the how much lump sum can I take? page for details.
If you have been receiving an ill-health pension for less than ten years and have not reached age 60 your FRA must review your health to check that you are still entitled to the pension. Your FRA chooses how often to do these checks.
Your FRA will consider, with the help of a medical opinion, whether you have recovered enough to be able to carry out any duty relating to the role you were retired on health grounds from.
If a higher tier ill-health pension is in payment your FRA must also consider if you have become fit enough to undertake any regular employment.
If a lower tier ill-health benefit has been awarded and your condition has improved enough that you can return to your role as a firefighter then the pension will be stopped if you are offered a role.
If the offer of employment is accepted the ill-health pension will be stopped but the service it was based on will count towards future pension benefits. If you refuse the job offered the ill-health pension will be stopped and the service it was based on would count towards a deferred pension payable at age 60.
If a higher tier ill-health benefit has been awarded and you are considered fit to return to your former firefighter role the same rules as above would apply (but service counting towards further pension entitlement would not include ill-health enhancement).
If you are considered fit for regular employment but not for your former role as a firefighter, the higher tier pension would cease and the lower tier pension would continue in payment on its own.
Deferred pensions put into payment early because of ill-health must also be reviewed.