early retirement

early retirement

early retirement I finished my treatment nearly 4 years ago ( mastectomy, chemo & radio) I take Tamoxifen and will be changing to letrozole in January as I had a stage 3 grade 3 tumour with 7out of 14 lymph node involvement. I am a full time teacher but after 30 years service and everything that has happened I feel I have had enough. I have lymphoedema in my arm and back but thankfully no recurrent problems.
I would like to take ill health retirement so that I can have my pension and enjoy time with my husband.
I would love to hear from anyone who has taken ill health retirement.
Thank you. Pinklinda

Hi Pinklinda,

I too am a teacher (31 years service) diagnosed in Febrary this year have had lumpectomy - grade 2 with 10/11 lymph nodes affected and am taking letrozole. Not a brilliant prognosis which terrified us both, so my husband leaves teaching at Christmas and I have applied for ill health retirement. We made the decision that a life together was more important than long days,followed by endless evening meetings OFSTED, SEF forms, target setting, performance managment, Extended Schools etc, etc. - must sound familiar I’m sure!

When I contacted the NUT their advice was that you don’t automatically get ill health retirement for cancer - depends on the prognosis. I have severe oesteoarthritis as well so am making my claim based on both conditions.

When you get the claim forms you more or less have to chase up the medical advice yourself, which feels a bit like being stranded just at the time you need most help.

I should think that with your lymphodema you would have a good case, especially teaching in a Junior school.

Good luck - what ever you decide to do.


I got it Hi pinklinda

I got early retirement on health grounds in August 2005…I was working in a new universiity and in the same Teachers Pension scheme as schoolteachers.

I worked through some of my treatment, had time off for surgery and some chemo and then returned to work during rads. Within a couple of months I had decided for sure that I didn’t want to continue working.

My single piece of advice to you is to go off sick now. You won’t get ill health retirement unless you can show that you have been off sick and that you can’t manage work (on health grounds) any more. It is much more difficult to get early retirement than it used to be and you really do have demonstrate that you can’t teach again. Your employers also have to show that they have done everything they can to support you in staying at work.

The other crucial thing is to get a doctor (preferably a consultant and not just GP) to support your case. I had a very sympathetic oncologist who was willing to write a sufficiently gloomy report to get retirement. This wasn’t too difficult as I was diagnosed at Stage 3 and had a poor prognosis. My employers also supported me (and were even more generous in sick pay than the already very generous teachers’ scheme allows). Before the retirement was agreed I had to see an occupational health doctor and convince him I was permanently unfit for teaching.

As you probably know if you get the retirement you are entitled to up to 6.66 years enhancement on your pension. I had about 30 years and was aged 56 when I applied so got just over 4 years enhancement.

I found the 8 month period when I was ‘off sick’ and waiting to hear quite stressful. I felt a bit guilty because actually I could have worked…but that was crazy…my poor prognosis was only too real. It was also difficult psychologically to ‘move on’ while I was still technically employed. There were some bureaucratic blips (mainly the Personnel Dept who kept losing forms) but once my forms were actually sent off I heard within 4 weeks.

I’d be very happy to give you more detail privately on the kind of things my oncologist said which I think did the trick. You can contact me through another site where I have the same username: www.phpbbserver.com/breastcancer.

I am really glad I retired…my life is gentler and easier. I have an education related unstressful one day a week part time job which tops up a pretty OK pension very nicely. So many women suffer dire financial consequiences after a breast cancer diagnosis. We teachers of long service are among the luckier ones…and I’d say go for it. I’m probably not going to live into a ripe old age and I reckon the Teachers Pension Fund owes me a few years after all I’ve paid in.

very best wishes


and for redsilver Just read your profile. I had a similarly poor prognoiss (23/25 nodes and vascular invasion, grade 3, also triple negative so no hormonal drugs), and told my cancer was ‘locally advanced’ (a term used more in the States than here.) I was diagnsoed in October 2003 and still well. My decision to retire was very much about wanting to enjoy life now. My partner who is younger than me still works but is gradually cutting her hours and its easier that now its just one of us in a stressful job.

best wishes


Hi Pinklinda

I was a primary school headteacher and got early retirement on ill health grounds nearly 3 years ago at the age of 51 (not bc related). Like Jane, I can be contacted on the other site if you would like any information.

Annie x

ps It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Also taking time out Hi Pinklinda,
I am also starting time out from teaching after 32 years. It was suggested to me this summer by my surgeon and I am applying for ill-health retirement. I have got support from my doctor, my union and my principal, but it still was a heart-wrenching decision to make.

Jane, you are so right about it being a stressful time. I have only been off work since Halloween, but I have developed stomach pains which I put down to gallstones. I have been checked out by my doctor and I believe stress may have played a big part in this illness.

I am hoping to get written support from my surgeon and I will be very willing to get help from Annie and Jane.

I hope everything goes well for you.


Can not find you Thanks for your post. I would be very interested in any information you can pass on. I couldn’t find you on the other site as either Annie or Agnetha.I found Jane but not you. Glad you have made the right decision on retirement for you.