I am currently suffering with Fibromyalgia which is preventing me from carrying out my employment as a teacher. I have tried to apply for ill health retirement, but my application has been refused because my employers say that Fibromyalgia is a condition that you can work with. Please can you advise me on this?
Fibromyalgia is a variable condition. There are some individuals who suffer with the condition who are able to maintain full time employment. Unfortunately, however, there are others who are much more affected by the symptoms of the condition. I have seen sufferers who are bed bound by the condition.
Your employers need to take into consideration how you yourself are affected by the condition. The best way to enable them to do this is for a report to be obtained by an expert in Fibromyalgia, either a Rheumatologist or a Pain Consultant with a special interest in Fibromyalgia. They can be asked to consider whether you meet the criteria set out in the Pension Plan. Your employers will then need to take this into consideration and to judge you as an individual.
Pension claims are always very difficult to pursue successfully, particularly for sufferers of Fibromyalgia. It is often the case that individuals who apply for Ill Health Retirement Pensions are rejected on the basis that Fibromyalgia is a variable condition which can get better over time. However, it is only necessary for the expert to say that you will not be able to return to work on the balance of probabilities in order for you to meet the criteria under an Ill Health Retirement Plan. That is much easier than expecting an expert to say that you are too unwell to work now and will remain so for the rest of your life.
For specialist legal advice on pensions you should speak to your union or a solicitor specialising in Fibromyalgia claims such as Brian Barr Solicitors.
This article originally appeared in Fibromyalgia Family Magazine
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