Leaving work behind: Help to make your decision
For some people with pulmonary hypertension, continuing to work can be difficult – but it’s not always an easy decision to leave.
Aside from the obvious financial implications, giving up your job can mean a loss of routine, social interaction and sense of identity. On the other hand, it might protect your health and mean you have energy for other things in life.
And of course, not everyone has a decision to make. For some, their condition means that employment isn’t even an option.
What does it mean to take ill health retirement?
Ill health retirement means you can access your private or workplace pension early (before the normal minimum retirement age) due to ill health.
You’ll need to provide supporting medical evidence and it’s important to remember that the pension pot that you build up will probably be smaller, because it’s had less time to increase in value.
You may also be able to take part of your pension as a lump sum. If you’re under 75 and expected to live less than a year because of serious illness, you may be able to take your whole pension pot as a tax-free lump sum.
Different pension schemes have different rules so it’s important to check with the administrator of yours.
It’s not possible to receive your State Pension before your State Pension age, due to ill health.
It’s important that you receive expert, independent financial advice before making a decision to take early retirement.
Is voluntary redundancy a better option?
It’s important to weigh up all the pros and cons, including how much redundancy pay you would get (and whether you’d need to pay tax on it).
Do not let your employer push you into making a quick decision. And remember that anti-discrimination laws mean they can’t put pressure on you to resign because you’ve become disabled.
What state benefits could I be entitled to if I stop working?
What you are entitled to will depend on your individual circumstances. But if you are unable to work because of your PH, you may be able to claim state benefits including Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Universal Credit. ,
Our free benefits calculator at www.phauk.org can help you work out what may be available.
What are my rights to work flexibly?
You may be able to consider reducing your hours or working flexibly, rather than giving up work completely.
If you’re disabled or have a health condition, your employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so you’re not disadvantaged at work. And if you request reasonable changes to your role, hours, or workplace, they must consider them.
Where can I turn to for help about making a decision?
Your specialist PH team are the best people to consult initially about your ability to work. And you can find out what benefits or grants you may be entitled to by using our free search tool and calculator at www.phauk.org.
The following organisations also offer free help and advice:
Pension Wise: A government service offering impartial guidance on making sense of how and when you can access your pension pot. Call 0800 138 3944 or visit https://bit.ly/2VjuqU7
Citizens Advice Bureau: An independent organisation specialising in confidential information and advice. Call 0800 144 8848 (0800 702 2020 in Wales) or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Acas: Acas gives employees and employers free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. Call 0300 123 1100 or visit www.acas.org.uk
Turn2us: A national charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. Call 0808 802 2000 or visit www.turn2us.org.uk
If you can afford it, you may also consider consulting a private adviser. You can find a list of regulated and impartial retirement advisers at https://bit.ly/3f18fJl