As Branch Welfare Officer I felt that I should comment on the terrible time some of our members are having when they face retirement through ill health.
Just the fact that you are told that you have been successful in getting to that stage, is full of stress because by that time you will have exhausted your sick pay and could be living on nothing. It is a terrible thing to be told that you will not be fit to work again for the rest of your life, made worse by the stress that financial insecurity brings.
Some people are not aware that they can apply for benefits and still be employed.
Then we have the pay-out that you should receive. The Council will give so many weeks’ notice. That is where the stress begins again. If you are lucky you will receive your notice money quite quickly. What I have noticed is that it will never be correct.
Then the letters begin. The Council will likely have overpaid you by so much you need to send a cheque for the full amount or come to an arrangement. The Council can be very hard line about this and are not worried about sending in the bailiffs to collect an overpayment that has come about entirely due to their own incompetence. By this time you are ready to give up, thinking you had finally finished with all this you realise that your employer will continue to make demands of you despite your ill health.
I would like to stress the following to all our members:
Please remember you are in control. If you are overpaid then you need to inform the department through a letter of how your circumstances are and agree a minimal amount that is not going to affect your day-to-day living expenses and will not cause you any sleepless nights. Also if you are not in receipt of your pension yet do not agree to anything until you can calculate what you will have to live on.
My final question is why is there always an admin error when it comes to completing these last stages of ill health retirement?
Can nobody add up or is it that the few people left in HR are being stretched to their limits beyond their capabilities?
If you need any help or advice regarding financial problems then please contact Diane Lowe, Branch Welfare Officer, on 020 8496 5067.