UK - Firms must tighten ill-health retirement literature to prevent scheme members refusing treatment that could make them well enough to return to work, BUPA claims.
The healthcare provider believes it will be easier to turn down an appeal on an ill health early retirement pension where recommended medical treatment is refused, if scheme rules are worded more clearly.
BUPA’s Dr Stuart McKenzie said trustees had a duty to protect a vulnerable pension fund “from inappropriate applications.”
He also pointed out that research showed there was a direct correlation between claims for ill-health early retirement pension and the point at which an employee was eligible for an enhanced pension benefit.
But pensions law firm Sacker & Partners warned that simply redrafting ill-health early retirement provisions was not always a straightforward solution.
Partner Katherine Dandy cited a case where recommended back surgery for a scheme member was vetoed after his own GP said it was too risky.
And another where the actions of a member in refusing drugs that would have helped her depression were said to be a symptom of her illness.
Dandy said: “Each case is so different and the medical profession does not often achieve a unanimous view on what is the right treatment. This is why trustees find themselves in these dilemmas.”
She added: “Ill-health provisions have come a long way in the last five years.
“Schemes are also much more sophisticated with how they deal with applications. The process is much more sophisticated too.”She pointed out that many schemes now reviewed ill-health early retirement awards on a two-yearly basis to see if a recovery had been made.
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