Occupational pension schemes generally permit members to retire early (without the substantial reduction in pension normally associated with early retirement) if they can prove that they are permanently incapable of working due to ill-health, but it is much harder for some members to prove this than for others. This can lead to difficult choices and financial hard times.
People suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) are perhaps the best example. Although sufferers may be incapable of working, doctors are often unable to say with confidence (initially at least) that they will not recover at some point in the future. We acted in the landmark case of Spreadborough v Wandsworth London Borough Council, in which the High Court ruled that in certain circumstances decisions as to whether or not an illness is permanent can be postponed and then backdated. We routinely advise on the application of this ruling and represent clients in what are often delicate and valuable complaints to scheme trustees and the Pensions Ombudsman.
We can also advise on the options for returning to work in the unlikely event of recovery following ill-health early retirement.
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