Early retirement advice please.

Right. Ill keep a long story short…
Finished all treatments last November…still on herceptin and tamoxifen…and now Gabapentin( for neuropathy in my feet)
Been off work since diagnosis last april.
Im a TA in a special school.
I tried a phased return to work 3 hrs a day in January. By Thursday i was struggling to walk.
Doc signed me off again. Not been back since. My pay stops on 4th April… I actually don’t want to return to work…its just not what i want any more. Work are sending me to another occupational health appointment…to talk about my options. What id like is to retire early (im 49) on medical grounds. …to take a pension and have breathing time to decide my next step. Has anyone known of anyone in this situation please. Im just nervous that theyll say no…back to work you go! Im not in a good place right now…my dad died last week and thats compounded my thoughts that i should stick to my guns…as he would’ve said. Xxx

Hi Tina,

Sorry to hear about what you are going through currently, especially losing your dad at this time. 

I do not have personal experience of this myself, however, a colleague went through this recently. From what I recall, the pension provider (in this case the NHS), had to be applied to & it also required the support of the GP. 

Obviously you will seek further advice & hopefully, one of the other ladies will be along to advise, it may also be worth contacting Macmillan about this, as I have seen from this forum that they are helpful with financial matters. 

ann x

Thanks ann x

Hi Tina, we have a similar (not cancer) situation at work at the moment. I work in hr for a school trust. You need to check your sickness policy. You will have several stages before being able to apply for retirement on health grounds. Occupational health and your doc will need to declare you unfit for work and your hr person will have to apply for early retirement. You can waive your rights to a proper consultation and go straight to occupational health.

Hope it goes well for you and you get the result you want xx

Thanks for that. I have my occy health appointment on wednesday. I have a letter from my doctor to take to support me. Whatever they say im not going back now. My health comes first. Im looking for something else…im volunteering at the stroke association a few days a week…that may lead to a position. X

Hi Tina


Hope your meeting with occupational health goes well. As you say your health comes first. Like me you are on herceptin and so you are still having active treatment so give yourself time. 


Take care, xx 

Well the appointment went fine. He said He was happy that i wasnt fit to do my current job…so pension for me.
Im volunteering at the stroke association at the moment and enjoying the slower pace…it might lead to a job for me too. Im not stressing at all…thanks for the replies folks. Love you all xxx

Hi Tina - I’ve found myself in a similar situation. I work for a local authority and just don’t feel up to the challenges of my role anymore.  What is a worry is the 3 tiers.  I had grade 3 stage 3 diagnosis with additional tumour in lymph nodes, chemo, mastectomy and full lymph node clearance and finally radiotherapy.  I am now taking tamofixen.  I also suffer with neuropathy but no longer taking medication as it doesn’t keep me awake anymore.  Lots of problems with my feet though (not sure if this is typical) and also recently started getting signs of lymphedema.  

Went back to work almost immediately after completing treatment last June and then had a further spell of sickness after a ruptured appendix.

been signed of for a few weeks again now as I’ve felt overwhelmed and simply unable to cope at work!  

I have spoken to our in house occy health team and they seem to think I am well and that I need to explore alternative options before considering retirement, such as reduction in hours, step back from management.  I can’t help thinking they are looking after the council primarily and not me.

Would love to know your experiences and whether you feel I would hit the criteria for tier 1.?

thanks in advance x

Hi…im no expert but id say tier1 for you.
Ive been given tier 3.
Get your union involved hun.xx

Hi JessieP
Firstly I am so sorry that you find yourself in this position and anyone else going through treatment.
I have secondary breast cancer with bone and liver mets, diagnosed Dec 2012 from the start. I have worked in a school for 16 years and since diagnosis been under occupational health at the instigation of my HR manager. In the last almost 5 years I continued to work through my treatment as my job as an administrator could be done at home.I did reduce my hours from 37 to 27. I decided to go for ill health early retirement and the occ health granted me Tier 1 which was great news for me and I retired aged 49 last month. I think if you can show that you have exhausted all possible avenues with regard to your work ie agreeing to occ health referral, reducing hours etc then you stand a more favourable chance of tier 1.
Wishing you lots of luck & hope you make a good recovery.
Sending big ((((cyber)))) hugs
Helen x


I’m not able to advise anyone as I am in a similar position and don’t know what to do for the best. I’m 62 so should work another 3.5 years. I don’t want to give up my job (TA junior school) but was asked if I had thought about reducing my hours after I had a melt down 2 weeks ago (am signed off again at the moment having returned on ammended duties last June and back to full hours in September). My issue is with the pension and how it can or cannot be affected. I’ve read about flexible retirement but can’t get my head round what hoops need to be jumped through so as to protect my pension-doesn’t seem fair after all we go through to have to loose out. Bloomin’ government, if they hadn’t changed the retirement age or at least done it in smaller stages I could be making different choices now. I’ve also read that parliament are about to debate the WASPI situation this month but can’t see it changing anything quickly enough for me. One thing I’ve discovered is that, even after treatment we are still counted as disabled so have different rights - just need to find out how that may help us.

Cancer wise all is OK but am being closely monitored as not able to take the hormone suppressant. So I should be fine - shouldn’t I???  What ails me now? Lymphoedema in the breast (didn’t know until my 1 year breast care appointment!), extreme fatigue, depression and osteo arthritis of the knee. Seeing my GP again tomorrow to get his take on it all - he is really concerned as I was doing so well.

I’d love to hear from any of you who are suffering with decisions or have come through it all.

Kind regards,


Jak, I took about 5 weeks off with “stress” and phasing back now. I do feel a lot better than I did when I posted below, but I’m cutting my hours from37 to 30. I’m not 55 for a couple of years, but I am aware that you can ask for flexible retirement from 55 with a local authority, which may be supported (they have to agree I believe from 60). That said, if you are thinking of retiring due to ill health, you may find you can have your pension enhanced, I think you may have some protected rights given your age from pre 2014 LGPS. I would recommend speaking with your line manager and asking to speak with Occ Health and HR to work out your options. Good luck xx

Thank you for your reply and advice Janey - hope all goes well for you. I saw my GP and he thinks I should be able to get back to work in some form and, obviously, only I can make financial decisions but not to think about it now. Signed off until January - so frustrated.

x Jak

Good luck Jak. If any consolation, I felt so much better for being signed off and was able to spend time thinking of all my options. X