A serving firefighter who has sufficient service to qualify for a pension and who is permanently disabled for the performance of the duties of his/her role may be considered at any age for an ill-health pension.
There are two tiers of ill-health award –
- a lower tier award which provides a lower tier pension
- a higher tier award which provides a lower tier pension plus a higher tier pension
The higher tier award is made where the firefighter has at least 5 years' qualifying service (i.e. the "calendar length" of scheme membership) and is not only permanently disabled for the performance of the duties of his/her role as a firefighter but is also permanently disabled from undertaking regular employment.
For a special firefighter member, the lower tier ill-health pension would be assessed on similar principles to those used in the assessment of an age or deferred pension. It is based on the formula:
1/45 x pensionable service x final pensionable pay
The method of assessment of a higher tier ill-health pension, particularly for a retained firefighter, is a bit more complicated. It is based on a proportion of prospective service, i.e. the service the firefighter will not be able to achieve because of the ill-health retirement.
The formula for assessing a higher tier ill-health pension for special firefighter members is:
(2% x A) x (A/B x C) x D/45
- A is the pensionable service accrued in the scheme before ill-health retirement, i.e. assessed on similar principles to the pensionable service used in an age or deferred pension calculation
- B is qualifying service, i.e. "calendar length" of scheme membership
- C is the pensionable service that the firefighter would have accrued from the date of ill-health retirement until normal retirement age (55) had he/she continued to be a contributing member of the scheme as a whole-time regular firefighter
- D is the final pensionable pay ("reference pay").
For example, if a special firefighter member had been a member of the scheme for 16 years (16 years' qualifying service), has 4 years of pensionable service credited up to the date of leaving and if a whole-time regular firefighter would have completed a further 12 years' pensionable service to age 55 and would have final pensionable pay of £29,501.37, the higher tier ill-health pension would be assessed as –
(2% x 4) x (4/16 x 12) x £29,501.37/45 = £157.34 a year
It would be added to the lower tier ill-health pension to form the higher tier ill-health award.
Part of a lower tier, but not a higher tier, ill-health pension can be commuted to provide a lump sum if the firefighter wishes.