Retirement on medical grounds

Hello Everyone

Has anyone had experience of retirement on medical grounds? After having several operations and finally a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction now recovering on hormone tablets, I feel I don’t want to return to full time work in the City of London. I will miss money but travelling and leading a less stressful life and enjoying life with my husband is now a priority.

Due to see a Macmillan benefits adviser about this and he suggested I may beable to ask for medical grounds. My employer wrote back and mentioned since new laws, you just give in your resignation no matter what your age, I’m 57.

I’d be interested in what your thoughts are about retirement on one particular job. I do plan to go back to work but part time possibly nearer home.


Hi Hamlet,
I am trying the same thing I feel exhausted and have no energy for my Family- three children 11. 8 and 3.I want to be able to have some quality time with my family whilst I feel relatively well.

I returned to work in Health and Social Care in Autumn last year after having a mastectomy and rt. I have found it difficult that much so that my Gp has put me on sick due to stress. He says I look alot better. I have contacted my HR who have said I have to be redeployed as they don’t think I can finish on medical grounds to my age etc I am 43. So I am being referred to Occy Health to see what they say.

However, I spoke to my Onc last week who said he thinks it would be a good idea due to my circumstances. I have asked other Ladies on here and I believe it can be difficult at first but some have managed to arrange this, I think it depends on a number of things…your onc etc. Will you keep me posted as it looks as if we are both at the same stage with work. Ta hope you go on ok xxx

Hi hamlet & racer, hope you both get sorted ok. I had mastectomy/reconstruction last year and not healed yet. On tamoxifen and don’t know how I will cope with my old job as it’s pressurised sales and I can’t cope with the stress. Also feel too muddle headed to concentrate so hope when I’m signed off as fit for work OH will consider letting me do another role.

Hi ladies, I too am in the process of trying to go for medical retirement. I have my OCcupational health appointment next week. I have done some research and am prepared for a battle cos I have been told they don’t like to give it to you as I cost them a lot of money, so they will try and wear you down, in fact my macmillian rep said she has never known any one to be awarded it from my area. But I am determind to try. So good luck and I hope you ladies succeed too.

I retired on ill-health early 2009 aged 43, having been diagnosed with primary and secondaries in July 07. I had chemo, mx, rads and hormone therapy and tried to go back on a phased basis Sept 08. It was a nightmare so was signed off again. After a while, it was apparent I could never cope with being back and with the full support of my surgeon and onc I asked for retirement. It took 4 months, a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and I wasn’t expected to be granted it but against all the odds, the pension fund doctor gave me full retirement (ie as if I’d worked to normal retirement age) immediately. It was a huge risk for me to take as they couldn’t give me any figures so I may have ended up with nothing. I had worked for the company and paid into the pension fund for 19 years so that was obviously a help. Not entirely sure about the hand in your resignation bit Hamlet.

I would say check with HR and any pension fund and even union before doing anything rash but from my experience, it was absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done. I have a whole new lifestyle and am loving doing things and meeting friends and family while I can, rather than say ‘I wish I’d done blah, blah, blah’

Good luck with whatever you both do and remember your health is most important.


Hello Hamlet

I was diagnosed 8 years ago and currently on Letrozole, I am 54 years old.

I went back to work fulltime after radiotherphy to a job I didn’t really like and which was quite stressful. It wasn’t the job really or the company but I found it hard to work with people who had no manners and constantly wasting time just basically mucking around I suppose, I won’t go on but I was well paid and the benefits were good so I put up with it as long as I could.

Tamoxifen wasn’t a problem but then I was put on Letrozole and along with the job it just got me down.
My husband had lost his job when his company went bust 3 years ago and he took his pension early and got a lovely job as a gardener for a charity which he absolutely loves. He is part time and every morning he would wave me off to work as he strolled to the shop for the morning paper before leaving for his work and I thought I wanted to do that as well.

When the early retirement age went up to 55 I knew that I couldn’t take my pension so I started saving as much of my salary as I could for the day that I wasn’t prepared to go work any longer and that came last January. I said “enough is enough, I don’t enjoy my job anymore, I’m leaving” and I did. My aim was to get a little part time job but the longer I am off the more I don’t want to get another job but I will, I’m just waiting for the right one.

As I am 55 this year I intend to take one of my pensions(from one of my employers)which will help the finances.

The funny thing is that on the day I resigned a lady came up to me at work and said “you are my hero, I want to do the same as you” and within a week of me resigning 2 others of my age resigned.

I thought I would go on holiday etc but although previously because we had stressful jobs we used to have 2 a year now we don’t need them because the reason we were having them has gone away.

With regards to my health, I did think I would feel better but I now realise how much taking Letrozole is having on my health, but as I am 3 years into 5 years of taking it I will try to hang on in there.

Take Care


Blue Dragonfly , will you let us know how you go on please. I am seeing occy health in the next couple of weeks.I really hope you get the outcome you want. We have been put in this position no fault of ourselves and must take advantage of any opportunity that we can. Quality time is so important and there are things I want to do whilst I can. Take care.


I would agree with what Lizcat has said. every pension scheme is different, definitely don’t “just resign” until you know what your position would be. It’s different if you are just state pension or if you are contracted out and have an employers pension as well, and the state pension provision depends what age you are now (ie i was born 1961 so my state pension doesnt come through till im 66 - that’s if i even live that long) Then if you got to that day when enough’s enough, at least you know where you stand.
It also depends how many years you have been paying in, if you had a long career break already for instance and didnt buy in extra years you have less to lose than someone who worked through and maybe has also been contributing extra, expecting to work to a certain age.
If you have a union, take advice. If you have a private pension take advice. If you have a employer pension, read the details very carefully and take advice.
Then listen to your heart and go for it, i believe we were made to live not just to work till we drop.

Just to add, it can be a shock adjusting to an unplanned retirement. My dad retired at 63 after several years of dropping his hours, pre-retirement courses, easier work responsibilities, taking up new hobbies, reading saga mags blah blah blah. He did fine.
However, going into it as a least bad option after the major trauma we already had, without the “What would you actually LIKE to do?” planning counselling etc that ppl like my dad got, can be a very different experience. Stepping down gently like everyone expects grandads to, is very diffferent from salvaging the situation when you realise you have survived the cancer - so far - but are never going to get well enough to resume your work effectively and enjoy it. It’s a fairly polite way of being dumped; however well you and the company got on in the past, that relationship is now ending.
So do look at some general pre-retirement stuff to help with the mental adjustment.

Hello there

Thanks for all your input ladies, it’s a great help. I actually work for a very small company about 10 staff in the centre of London,I’ve been there for 7 years before being diagnosed with breast cancer. There is no pension plan at my company and no benefits, so I don’t really have any desire to return ( although money is always an asset) My salary was only about £15-16,000 even after 7 years, I could earn similar working local, no fares, get home quicker and less stressful! Even if I work part time this would help, as I plan to spend more time with my husband since he got ill more or less the same time - he came out of hospital and within a few days I was in hospital for the BIG Op! This made me realize I must change my priorites before I’m too ill or too old to enjoy our time together.

I’m due to see the Macmillan benefits adviser soon, my work actually mentioned there is no retirement on medical terms provided by companies now, it’s a matter of working out my notice, although I could say I resign due to medical reasons they also mentioned. Has anyone else views on this? I will keep you posted. It’s difficult trying to balance concentrating getting better then starting to think about work, money whether you’ll get job at my age in this economic climate.


Hamlet X

I will let you know how I get on with OH next Tuesday. This cancer has robbed me of too much and wont let it take away my rights. It’s like you said it’s not my fault, I’ve not caused the BC. The thing is, there is only one procedure on getting ill health retirement and it was set up for " oh my poor back" and shirkers, so it’s not personal. At my first formal meeting I thought I would have to prove I have bc. I threaten to lift my top and say didn’t have a mx now my 2nd 6 weeks ago for time off work.
If anyone has an OH appointment don’t forget to get the questions that are going to asked at meeting. You are entitled and can cancel meeting if you don’t get them. Good luck and hugs to all. Xx

Hello ladies. I applied for ill health retirement in November 2010 and knew by Christmas I’d been accepted.
It was a very simple straight forward process. I met with HR, who started the ball rolling, I got a letter of support from my Oncologist, I then went to OH who completed the paperwork and sent it off. I didnt need to see a medical officer or anyone else, the decision was made purely on the evidence provided.
Dont be put off by people who tell you its a difficult process, I was told this myself and it caused me quite a lot of angusish about weather to go ahead or not. In the end I nearly had a breakdown at work and just knew I couldnt go on a minute longer.
(I was Dx BC in 2007 and have bone and liver mets)
Our lives are too short, so go for it. I’ve never regretted for a single second giving up work.
Love Jane x

Hello again ladies

Not heard anything back from my employer, ie return of original medical sick certificate. The Macmillan adviser said I could ask my doctor for a duplicate certificate so I did get one back from my doctor. I’m going to send this off with the SSP1 form and the form from the DWP, read it over and sign it and send all back! Hope I at least get some benefit, even for a few months - I think I have to give 2 months notice but still not heard anything back from my employer to check cant really see on my contract.

All this waiting recovering, dressing changes, hospital visits etc. I think most of the first part of 2012 will be taken up doing just the above, cancer and recovery do not just go away like that, as some people think, so I don’t really say much to people with no experience of it. Let you know how I get on with the result of my claim for ESA.


I successfully claimed for ESA last month - my SSP ran out at the end of December. It is a relief to have some money coming in even though it isn’t a lot - every little helps!

Hi Supertrouper

Thanks for the support. I can only try to claim for ESA, hope all goes through, every bit helps as you say! What a great forum this is, there is always someone out there to give you support.

I was made redundant in May last year, which was effectively retirement as altho I’m not 55, my medical history gave me access to my pensions. The reduncancy process was awful ,involving national union secretary of Unite, but that was down to my employer Scottish widows and their inabilty to be human and follow their own prcedures, but I got there.

Each company was different pension wise, some just wanted oncologist report, others seemed to need to know my husband’s inside leg measurement at the age of 25 (!) but no wits all sorted I’ve not looked back, particaulraly having had a sec dx last September. I’m not doing much, not capable, but I’m happy and thats the main thing.

Hi Everyone!

Had a letter from DWP, states awarded ESA, thank goodness at least a little money to help with small,small bills since it’s a small, small amount! Does anyone know how long ESA lasts, does the DWP expect you to work if you don’t qualify or pass the capability test? I haven’t received it in the post yet, it’s just that my Macmillan advisor said it’s a detailed assessment of what you can do and how far you can walk etc…If you don’t score enough points, do the DWP make you go back into work straight away even though you feel you are not fit in yourself to work again?

In regards to the retirement on medical grounds, I’ve not heard from my employer, it’s a very small company about 10 staff, no pension, no benefits, so maybe they just want me to work out my notice. I don’t really want to approach them at this stage since I’ve just been given ESA. By the way I must check my bank account, how long does it take for the money to go into your bank anyone had experience?

Next stage is reading through the Disability Living Allowance form( more like a book!) I hate reading those things but if it means I qualify it’s best to.