Ill Health and Early Retirement - Does the employer have an assumed duty of care and skill?

The Deputy Pensions Ombudsman (DPO) has upheld a complaint by a member Mrs S (PO-20087) who received lower ill health retirement benefits because she missed the deadline for members to continue with their existing ill health benefit applications under the National Health Service Pension Scheme Regulations 2015, which replaced the National Health Service Pension Scheme Regulations 2008 (2008 Regulations). The member argued that her employer had not adequately informed her about changes to the scheme she was enrolled.  She argued that if she submitted her application before the deadline, her preferable benefits would be protected.  

She submitted the information that had been given did not constitute a "reasonable step" to inform her of the changes.  She claimed she had suffered a financial loss due to missing the deadline.

The Deputy Pensions Ombudsman (DPO) upheld the member's complaint. It was decided that the employer had failed in its duty to process the member's application with reasonable care and skill and without undue delay. Simply directing the member to information about the deadline did not reflect the urgency which should have been applied. 

The DPO held that the employer had acted negligently and there had been maladministration on its part. Without such negligence, the member's application would have been submitted before the deadline and she would have received a higher level of benefits.

Posted on 6 November, 2019 by Ortolan

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