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MS - ill health retirement - advice needed!!

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by ninasimone, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. <font size="2">Hello,</font><font size="2">I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and with it being such a variable condition; it appears symptoms seem to vary from person to person. After a number of tests, including a lumbar puncture, visual evoked potentials and so on, I was formally diagnosed based upon the results of the tests and underlying symptoms. To be honest, I had probably been suffering the condition for quite a few years but didn&rsquo;t realise it until 2 years ago when I suffered a severe and sudden bout of blurred/double vision. I have since been under constant specialist review and will continue to be so for some time to come. Some of my symptoms range from un-natural and disproportionate fatigue, dizziness, impaired cognitive functions, severe eye strain, muscle weakness, imbalance problems and disorientation. All in all it&rsquo;s an insidious condition that can&rsquo;t always be "seen" but nonetheless causes a huge impact on ones well being and health. </font><font size="2">My condition became apparent whilst in-service, i.e. I was working at a school up until recently but the symptoms became so unmanageable that I had to leave my teaching post. I did not have any coping strategies to manage the condition and whilst I was under a consultant neurologist and my GP, the school I taught at didn&rsquo;t seem to understand how badly it was affecting my duties and my life in general. </font><font size="2">I have now decided to embark upon ill health retirement (IHR) and subsequently applied to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS). Going done the IHR route was based upon my current symptoms and also how my condition could progress over the next few years. They have written back denying me ill health retirement rights based upon their medical advisors report. I submitted a number of medical reports, including one from my consultant, but the TPS suggest that even with MS (and appropriate treatment), I could partake in some gainful employment in teaching. I have found their decision arbitrary and lacking in consideration </font><font size="2">Has anyone else been through the TPS IHR route? Or has anyone else with MS managed to successfully apply for IHR? How difficult have people found getting IHR? Did anyone have to appeal and if so did you overturn the original decision? I read and re-read all the bumf on the topic and it seems that even if someone has a long term debilitating illness you have to prove beyond doubt that you are incapacitated due to the illness. </font><font size="2">I have of course appealed their decision in pretty strong terms as I feel that because MS is so individual and debilitating, the TPS have made what I consider to be a very unfair decision. Their reply to my application certainly lacked empathy and whilst I am aware that it&rsquo;s better to consider all options and that IHR should be a last resort, all I do know is that my condition prevents me conducting myself in a workplace environment in a professional manner. It is nigh on impossible for me carry out the duties required in the demanding role as a teacher. I have been teaching for around 10 years and never thought I would have to "rely" upon the TPS at my age. But here I am...no income, no prospects of getting further employment (as I would inevitably have to declare my condition), managing a difficult illness and a pension scheme that reckons I can contribute in some capacity. </font><font size="2">Does anyone have any advice on what I can do to overturn their decision? I will be contacting my Union about this, although to what extent they can help is difficult to know. As for now, my future is very uncertain and remains a constant worry for me. Just when you thought you have a backup in case of illness the TPS it seems find reasons not to pay (just like any insurance policy I guess!).....any advice is most welcome</font>
    <font size="2">Thanks</font>

     
  2. <font size="2">Hello,</font><font size="2">I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and with it being such a variable condition; it appears symptoms seem to vary from person to person. After a number of tests, including a lumbar puncture, visual evoked potentials and so on, I was formally diagnosed based upon the results of the tests and underlying symptoms. To be honest, I had probably been suffering the condition for quite a few years but didn&rsquo;t realise it until 2 years ago when I suffered a severe and sudden bout of blurred/double vision. I have since been under constant specialist review and will continue to be so for some time to come. Some of my symptoms range from un-natural and disproportionate fatigue, dizziness, impaired cognitive functions, severe eye strain, muscle weakness, imbalance problems and disorientation. All in all it&rsquo;s an insidious condition that can&rsquo;t always be "seen" but nonetheless causes a huge impact on ones well being and health. </font><font size="2">My condition became apparent whilst in-service, i.e. I was working at a school up until recently but the symptoms became so unmanageable that I had to leave my teaching post. I did not have any coping strategies to manage the condition and whilst I was under a consultant neurologist and my GP, the school I taught at didn&rsquo;t seem to understand how badly it was affecting my duties and my life in general. </font><font size="2">I have now decided to embark upon ill health retirement (IHR) and subsequently applied to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS). Going done the IHR route was based upon my current symptoms and also how my condition could progress over the next few years. They have written back denying me ill health retirement rights based upon their medical advisors report. I submitted a number of medical reports, including one from my consultant, but the TPS suggest that even with MS (and appropriate treatment), I could partake in some gainful employment in teaching. I have found their decision arbitrary and lacking in consideration </font><font size="2">Has anyone else been through the TPS IHR route? Or has anyone else with MS managed to successfully apply for IHR? How difficult have people found getting IHR? Did anyone have to appeal and if so did you overturn the original decision? I read and re-read all the bumf on the topic and it seems that even if someone has a long term debilitating illness you have to prove beyond doubt that you are incapacitated due to the illness. </font><font size="2">I have of course appealed their decision in pretty strong terms as I feel that because MS is so individual and debilitating, the TPS have made what I consider to be a very unfair decision. Their reply to my application certainly lacked empathy and whilst I am aware that it&rsquo;s better to consider all options and that IHR should be a last resort, all I do know is that my condition prevents me conducting myself in a workplace environment in a professional manner. It is nigh on impossible for me carry out the duties required in the demanding role as a teacher. I have been teaching for around 10 years and never thought I would have to "rely" upon the TPS at my age. But here I am...no income, no prospects of getting further employment (as I would inevitably have to declare my condition), managing a difficult illness and a pension scheme that reckons I can contribute in some capacity. </font><font size="2">Does anyone have any advice on what I can do to overturn their decision? I will be contacting my Union about this, although to what extent they can help is difficult to know. As for now, my future is very uncertain and remains a constant worry for me. Just when you thought you have a backup in case of illness the TPS it seems find reasons not to pay (just like any insurance policy I guess!).....any advice is most welcome</font>
    <font size="2">Thanks</font>

     
  3. Nina,
    Firstly may I say that I am sorry you have MS and that the pensions people continue to be insensitive, lying cretins.
    I have ME been housebound sometime sbedbound for 14 months.. I applied for IHR as only 7% liklihood of me recovering to full strengtha nd like you illness without full recovery the classroom is definitely not a possibility.
    I wa sturend down.. i appealed and was again turne ddown this time without any explanation or reply to the multiple points and evidence sourced from ME association and Department of health. I have written again asking them to look at my appeal letter and reply to the points raised before I decid eif i should take legal action.
    As you know there are two levels of payout.. partial (never teach again) and total (never work again) if applying a set time after leaving your job you are only eligible for total and they will not enhance or top up your payments.
    The whole system stinks.. they make up their own rules and in the case of MS it should eb a clear cut payout in my mind of partial benefit as a minimum.
    Not sure where to go with this.. would be nice if TES collate dall our cases and ran a story on it.
    From discussing with other members of the TPS on an ME board I use it si the norm to be turned down.. I have tow iat three years and reapply but still no liklihood of getting it.. I wonder what teh criteria are for an MS sufferer.
    You could try phoninga nd ask them to sen dyou the criteria.. I did thsi an dgots oemthing wooly back that I demonstrated i matched only for them to quote the 'fitness guidelines' of in the case of a teacher with ME you must wait 3 years.. so conveninet a sthey don't pay out.

    I really hope you get thsi sorted and that your condition remains stable for as long as possible.
    Have you managed to acess other benefits.. DLA/ESA/Housing benefit/Council tax benefit.
    Do you nee dto arrange a social services assessment as tehycan provide equipmenta nd grab rails to make life easier and assess if you have a care need?
    Again i am sorry you have this hidden illness. Thinking of you
     
  4. ...thanks for your thoughts and sharing your own experiences with the TPS. I guess if this post can run a little I might be able to raise enough energy to raise some awareness of how teachers are being denied legitimate claims in times of need.
    Sounds like I might face the same scenario as yourself....apply, get denied, get stressed out worrying...appeal, get turned down again...get stressed again...and so..dont they see how difficult it is being made to squirm in this manner...?
    I will appeal and have done and awaiting their decision again....will also contact MS society, MS Trust etc to get further advice. It cannot be right that when you really need the help its not forthcoming. I am sorry to hear of your own experiences and bracing myself for the same outcome...I hope not.
    One things for sure, if there is one thing thats going to make my MS worse its the worry, stress and anxiety of being turned down again despite medical reports from people who know me...
     
  5. redgrape

    redgrape New commenter

    I am one of the lucky ones in that I got IHR at the higher level due to the fact I have 'systemic sclerosis'. To get IHR you have to prove that all avenues of treatment & support have been tried and that you cannot be cured.

    My consultant wrote a letter which did state that all they could do was treat my symptoms as and when they arise. Also my GP was fully supportive along with the authorities Occupational Health doctor.

    Have you been in contact with your OH? I think if you have their support it will help.

    Hope things turn out well for you.
     
  6. Red sadly support from OH is no guarantee.. I had letters stating I could not work ad that no modificatiosn would change that.
    I had letters stating that there is no cure and that all we can do is control symptoms.
    The pension company are very very hard to please.

    But I am gla dyou got your payment
     
  7. I got IHR. I am wondering if my age was a factor? I'd been 30 years in the job when I realised it was time to get out. I was fifty when I applied. I'd also returned to work three years earlier after heart surgery. (I wasn't expected to return for some time but I didn't take a lengthy amount of recuperation time, and went straight back to my demanding post. That may have also been taken into consideration - ie: that it didn't fell me?) Other (and many!) chronic illnesses were taken into account when I applied, as well as the daily medication I had to take.
    It was a long and laborious process and only when all other routes were tried did I get my early retirement. Hospital consultants, as well as my GP, who known me 25+ years, wrote on my behalf in favour of that being a sensible route for me to take. If I'd have 'died in harness' TP wouldn't have had a leg to stand on....and I guess they must have considered that too, in much the same way that insurance companies have to weigh up risks?
    Employers also have a duty of care, so I was wondering if the OP could arrange flexible working hours may be? I really sympathise because I know only too well what it's like to not function properly yet still be expected to be at work. If only people know what went on behind closed doors etc.
    I feel a bit of a fraud because I am much more 'alive' now than I used to be. That however is due to early retirement and a much better quality of life. I also left behind the guilt that I was letting people down when I had to have lengthy periods of time off work. I felt I'd become a liability.
    If there was any doubt that I could have continued without it endangering my life I dare say I'd still be driving through those school gates every morning.
    I do hope there is light at the end of the tunnel for those struggling to 'prove' working life is impossible for them. Much sympathy.

     
  8. ..thanks for the post..thing is that I have tried to do some "light" teaching, but its no good as I always feel excrutiating pain and fatigue afterwards. MS cannot be cured only the symptoms can be treated...but how long before another breakdown...?
    It doesnt seem fair at all to expect unwell people to carry on in such a demanding role and then ask them to try all avenues of treatment to see if someone can actually carry on, albeit in a limited role...I cant wait for that possible eventuality. If the TPS actually took the time to read up on the variable and destructive symptoms of MS they might understand that in some cases they have to concede IHR is the ONLY way forward rather than make people anxious by trying to disprove their findings....why cant they concede that IHR is a priority in some cases and then if some miracle treatment comes along then IHR could be reversed
    My OHU has reported my conditions prevent me from providing sustained attendance at work...is not good enough for them....
    I will keep fighting until they see sense, or I become too ill to care!!!
     
  9. Nina..
    I could have written your last paragraph and inserted ME instead of MS.
    Try not to push too hard your health si the most important thing.
    Are you signed off at the moment?
    What they also nee dto consider is that a teacher who is only able to teach with a small percentage of their energy and health is doing the children no favours. Think how hard it wa sto get through a lesson with a headache or feeling queasy then imagine every lesson is like that and worse.. I really don't get what they are playing at.
    I do wish you luck.. but just not sure they will see sense.. kind of wish i hadn't waisted my money on my contributions now and had put it in a savings fund.
    Please keep us updated with how things are going
     
  10. ...thanks woozle, Im not signed off...just not working at all....period. Havent worked for a while after leaving my last post last year....so I made sure I got my claim in before the 6 month out-of-service time bar....of course no one tells you that you have to find all this info yourself but when I did I put my energies into completing the relevant IHR forms and hoped the TPS would see sense....as this option of IHR was the only route for me, I was disgusted when I was declined my claim citing total rubbish that I could work if treated appropriately....how do they know that, do they some magic wonder drug that can get me feeling as I used?? Do they have a magic potion that can control the symptoms?? Moreover, how long do I wait and keep trying different treatments until I could potentially get a little better?? In the meantime, I have no income or security at all.
    Really good point about what effects my health and associated consequences has the kids...I mean if I cant perform due to the condition through no fault of my own and cant deliver lessons like I would want to, the kids are disadvantaged.
    Ive put in an appeal for this week, so await what they say...cant hope for much more than that at the moment...but I fear the worst as when organisations such the TPS set their stall they generally stick to it no matter what....always the little guy that suffers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  11. They have a set of GUIDELINES that they interpret a slaw despite recent research, dept of health and professional bodies.
    I would love the magic potion , like you I would much rather have my health and job back than be struggling with the most basic daily task.
    I ahve to wait 3 years.. the guidelines state that.. even though all theresearch says i have 7% chance of full recovery I must wait three years.. you cannot reason with them.. they have a set of rules called 'fitness to teach' ors omesuch that they will use and ignore all other evidence. I just find it convenient as when I reapply in three years time I will only be eligible for total IHR and then not enhanced. I wouldn't get that as there will always be a chance I could do a few hours a week working from home. I just don't have the energy and cognitive strength to teach.
    It's a steaming pile off poo.
    Have you negotiated all the benefits.. DLA and ESA? As that is how I live now on handouts somedays I feel like I am sat with a begging bowl... if I ever get my pension it won't be huge but at least I feel I worked for it. I was a good teacher and miss the job.
    They don't consider the quality of the education from what I can tell if you can sit in a class for an hour they count you as fit to teach..

    I really wish you luck.

     
  12. ...Hi Woozle...thanks again for your support. I have just posted off my appeal and also spokjen to the TPS today. They cited that the medical advisers report is presented by the Dfe and has nothing to do with them...seems like passing the buck here!!
    I will looking at ESA but tried DLA and was turned down flat....I mean what more can a neurologically dysfunctioning human be able to do under such circumstances??
    The whole point of paying into a scheme is to be supported when such illnesses occur and not to have to squirm to fight for whats right....I was better off not paying into the bloody scheme (assuming i had a choice) and keeping the 8% they were taking out of my pay packet each month...
    I am sure there are loads of teachers in a similar plight, reliant upon non-descript people who then make life changing decisions for the worse....

     
  13. With DLA.. a lot of people get turned down and later go on to get an award.
    Firstly ask them for a reconsideration.. then ask for an appeal.. its a huge amount of paperwork but worth it as DLA is the doorway to other benefits.
    If you have a care or mobility need you are entitle dto this.
    ESA is again a battle.. as they assess wether you can do anywork not just what you trained to do. You fill in the form and are left in the assessment phase to start with.. benefits are the same as Job seekers allowance. After the 12 weeks they send you another form which you complete this is to decide if you are eligible to stay on ESA an dif so which group to put you in. There are two groups.. support group (incapable of work of any form) and the work related activity group (may work with support) both of these pay a higher benefit. If you get the support group and are on DLA you may also get extra benefit called severe diability premium.
    As with all these forms be as accurate and honest as possible.. the CAB will often have an advisor who can help you fill them in and there are websites with extra help so try and find an MS group to join.
    I too feel cheate dout of my pension premiums.. even the little booklet goes on about how to cancel IHR if you are able to work again.. like you will get it in the first place if you still have a pulse.. grr
    My carer had them saying it was DfE who did the report so phone dthem who trie dto pass us back to TPS.. she had to get very firm and determine dto get them to admit they ahve the criteria for awarding IHR and to send anything out to me.. even then it was incomplete.

    I really wish you well on this.
     
  14. ...I tried DLA and was turned down so will appeal their decision. As for ESA, I will beapplying for that benefit asap as well.
    I agree to a point that checks from the TPS have to be done...I mean they cant go around giving IHR to all and sundry. But what angers me and it is genuine anger is when you go to the trouble of submitting medical reports, appointments etc etc they still clinically say you have the potential work....what a load of ******* they are...and this passing the buck from Dfe to TPS is also a disgrace
     
  15. Hmmm. Well, I applied and got it although it was a long , drawn-out process with the LA's OH doctors involved.
    Sadly, although I left my job on the grounds of ill health and now survive on something like a sixth of what I was earning, I am not entitled to any benefits even though I have a mortgage still, run a house and have grown up children using my facilities. (ie: My running costs/food bills etc remain the same as ever.)
    I'd like to see a shake-up of the benefits system. Apparently my pension is enough for one person to live on so even though I have worked for 30+ yrs and raised a family alone, and paid lots of taxes and NI, there is nothing available for me. I still feel such relief that I am no longer teaching (the job had lost all it's joys) but my life now is run on a bit of a shoe-string budget, which is a dreadful worry.
    Can I just say, think carefully before you do go down the retirement route. It's burning all your bridges in a way, as I have discovered.
    I have at least ten working years left in me (as long as the work is not too stressful and doesn't exacerbate my illnesses/condition) but no hope really of ever being employed again or being able to increase my income. <u>If a retired person gets a raft of benefits, great,</u> but not all 'sick' people do. Being poor and unemployed in addition to being unwell isn't a great combo for future well-being. You actually might feel better if you can stay in employment - with conditions. Mental stimulation and interaction with colleagues is something I do miss.
    Your employer has a duty of care so should be able to fit you up with a job you CAN cope with. Perhaps that's what I should have done...explored the alternatives. In the years to come you may still be functioning OK or even in a fashion which allows you to 'join in', although I really sympathise..I know MS is degenerative and you'll have good days, bad days and your condition may worsen suddenly.
    I wish you all the best and would suggest now that you do get your OH involved and look at the (working) alternatives open to you.
    I wish you more good days than bad, and hope there is a satisfactory outcome for you. I hope you don't mind me presenting the other side of the retirement coin...x x
     
  16. Hi,
    I never envisaged posting on a TES board ever again but here I am. I'm in a similar situation to yourselves but my medical condition isn't as clearly defined. I've been through the mill really, being misdiagnosed with CFS, a stroke and a strong suggestion of MS My GP and consultants have been utterly fantastic and supportive of any benefit and pension claim. I have a diagnosis of " movement disorder" with a "non-organic neurological condition that cannot be characterised" (according to letters from my neurologists ( I have three consultants!) and my GP) I was dismissed on grounds of ill health in Aug 2010, applied for pension after it was decided that modifications were "not reasonable" ( Access to Work advised I needed a power chair, personal care assistant, disabled toilet, TA so yes, the modifications were far from realistic!), turned down in Dec 2010 as the medical officer stated that it was premature to consider that an improvement could not be made once a diagnosis had been made and suitable treatment given. the MO also referenced a number of investigations etc that had been suggested in my medical letters that at that time but not addressed. All of those points have now been addressed and in November 2011 my consultant Neuro and myself agreed that we now focus on easing symptoms and adapting to the new "me" rather than "finding the magic potion" I'm still trying to accept the "new" me........makes me sound like a bloody "Gok" project!
    I receive DLA (mobility and care) and I manage to do a little bit of self employed sewing work (altering clothes etc I taught food and textiles) My actual pay is a pitance (about &pound;50 a week for what takes me 30 hours to do!) but because I receive DLA, I claim a disabled persons working tax credits payment, which helps. To be honest if I didn't have my bit of sewing work I would have totally lost the plot by now and on darkest days when I felt I was just a tremoring, incontinent wreck I did seriously consider taking my own life. I certainly have the medicine cabinet to do it! Having that little bit of work really helps my emotional state.I've now decided to appeal against the decision to not grant me my pension. I now have enough "evidence" to appeal against the points raised by the medical officer so I go through the motions of appeal. To be honest though, I actually don't really care if I get it or not!! I'm already in an IVA, lost my teaching career, my driving licence and wearing adult nappies is hardly sexy!! However, part of me just about remembers what it was like to be a self respecting professional teacher and I also remember how hard I grafted to get there.
    I've been daydreaming recently along the lines of "what if I get it!"....it would be like winning the lottery, especially the lump sum! I could pay off my IVA, have a new garden fence and have some adaptations done to my home such as wet room. Perhaps even a little holiday....

    Pretty sad, innit really! Its good to know that there are other former "Miss" or "Sir" out there who are in the same boat. Keep trying, Keep positive, we'll get there in the end!xxx Bless you all.


     
  17. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    If you still have a pulse you will not receive IHR. I know of a teacher who has had a series of mini-strokes, and other mobility problems as a result, and he has been told he is still fit to teach in his school.
    The "medical service" that examines your application are ATOS, the same private company who determine a person's likelihood of obtaining any sickness benefit.
     
  18. pjames37

    pjames37 New commenter

    Why don't you apply directly to TP, as I did not go through the occupational health route, as they were negative from the start admitting its virtually impossible to get ill health retirement until all avenues have been explored. Mine was a different illness, however, that of mental illness shown through depression, anxiety and PTS (post traumatic stress). It started in 2010, but now I realise there was evidence for before that date. There was no way I could teach. I provided a time line, which is not normally required, and when I saw the doctor (with dates) and other venues, e.g. psychotherapy and CBT sessions. Absence from school got worse and worse and understanding of it was extremely limited. I got a doctors report and I got my doctor to print out ALL of my medical notes. It is important that somewhere there is a statement saying something along the lines, 'N. is not able to go back into the classroom owing to his/her medical/mental condition and is likely not to improve before his/her NPA (normal pension age). I was also referred to a psychiatric nurse for assessment (3 sessions), so her reports were included in the medical notes. I was still employed but was not attending work as I was in no fit mental state to do so. I received the lower level of accrued benefits for ill health (there are two levels, the other being total incapacity). Remember, if you do get the lower level and you retire on ill health, you claim for the higher level if your condition get worse after retirement. I think that is up to 5 years after you've retired.
     

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