What is ill-health retirement?
Under the various police pension schemes –
- The Police Pension Scheme 1987 (‘PPS 1987’)
- The New Police Pension Scheme 2006 (‘NPPS 2006’)
- The Police Pension Scheme 2015 (‘PPS 2015’)
a Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’), which is essentially the Chief Constable wearing a different hat, may retire an officer if they are deemed to be permanently disabled from performing the ordinary duties of a police officer. In simple terms, this means, you are no longer capable of performing the full front line duties of an operational officer.
The PPA will usually, on the advice of the Occupational Health (‘OH’) department and force doctor (sometimes called ‘CMO’, ‘FMA’, or ‘FME’) will refer the question of disability and permanency to a Selected Medical Practitioner (‘SMP’). The SMP will be asked to answer the following questions –
- whether the person concerned is disabled, and
- whether the disablement is likely to be permanent
They would expect you to have exhausted all avenues of appropriate treatment if it would improve your condition before ill-health retirement is considered. Ideally you should also ensure you have your conditions or illnesses diagnosed and confirmed in writing by a consultant in the relevant field.
Even if you are assessed as permanently disabled from performing the ordinary duties of a member of the police force, it does not automatically mean that you will be retired on ill-health grounds. The PPA will consider your specific disabilities and overall capabilities to see whether there are alternative duties which you could undertake whilst remaining a police officer.
For the purposes of ill-health retirement, it doesn’t matter whether the injury is mental or physical, or whether it occurred as a result of you being a police officer or not. However you may see a reduction of any ill-health pension award (by up to a half), if you substantially contributed to your permanent disablement.
If you are retiring under the NPPS 2006 or the PPS 2015, the SMP has an additional question that they are required to answer, and that is whether they think that after leaving the police service, you will be capable of regular employment in the future. This is defined as being capable of regularly working 30 hours a week. The answer to this question will determine whether you will be awarded a lower tier, or an upper tier (enhanced) ill-health pension. This will affect the actual value of your annual ill-health pension.
If the PPA decide to medically retire you, you will receive an ill-health pension, which is payable immediately and will be index linked, that is, it will be annually increased to keep pace with inflation. The value of your pension will depend on a number of factors including which police pension scheme you joined and retired under (which can be different), the length of your pensionable service, your annual salary, and if retiring under the NPPS 2006 or PPS 2015, whether you were granted a lower or upper tier award.
Ill-health pensions are taxed at the normal HMRC rate. You may commute up to 25% of your annual pension in exchange for a lump sum.
Ill-health retirement has developed into a complex subject over the years with much case law in this area. It would be impossible to cover everything in this brief introduction. There are no national forms for requesting ill-health retirement, or statutory time scales, but we would like think that all forces do take all such applications seriously and deal with them expeditiously.
If you have specific questions regarding ill-health retirement, then please drop us a line and we’ll do our best to answer you.