Who can help me if I have a query or complaint?
If you are in any doubt about your pension benefit entitlements, or have a problem or question about your pension scheme membership or benefits, please contact the Avon Fire & Rescue Service.
We will seek to clarify or put right any misunderstandings or inaccuracies as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If your query is about your contribution rate, please contact your employer’s personnel/HR or payroll section so they can explain how they have decided which contribution band you are in.
If you are still dissatisfied with any decision made in relation to the scheme you have the right to have your complaint reviewed under the scheme’s Appeal Procedure.
Rights of Appeal
If a FPS member, or a dependant, is dissatisfied with a decision made by a fire and rescue authority (or the failure to make a decision) there are rights of appeal available.
The FPS contains arrangements for Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures (“IDRP”) based on the requirements of the Pensions Act 1995. There are also provisions for medical appeal if a person is dissatisfied with a medical opinion upon which a determination of award is based.
Looking at the medical appeal route first, if an authority are considering whether or not to make an award of an ill-health pension to a firefighter (or to allow early payment of a deferred pension on health grounds), they must first obtain the written opinion of an independent qualified medical practitioner (“IQMP”) as to whether the person is permanently disabled for the duties of his/her role and, if so, whether he/she would be capable of any other regular employment. The authority must notify the firefighter of their decision as to award and supply a copy of the medical opinion upon which their determination is based.
If the FPS member is dissatisfied with the award and believes the problem lies in the medical opinion, then he/she can appeal against the opinion to a Board of Medical Referees. (Before this stage, however, if the member provides new evidence of a medical nature and the member and the authority agree, the IQMP can be asked to review the medical opinion in the light of the new evidence.)
A similar process applies if an ill-health award is reviewed and the person is dissatisfied with the outcome.
If the grievance of the FPS member, a dependant, or a pension credit member is with a decision made by the fire and rescue authority rather than with the content of a medical opinion, or is in respect of a non-medical aspect of the opinion, he/she can use IDRP to seek resolution. The grievance will be considered and a written response made.
Full details of the medical appeal procedures, the IDRP process, and relevant time limits can be supplied by the fire and rescue authority.
There are also a number of other regulatory bodies that may be able to assist you.
The Pensions Advisory Service
TPAS can assist members and beneficiaries of the scheme in connection with any pension query they may have or any difficulty which they cannot resolve with the scheme administrator.
Info and contact details - www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk
The Pensions Advisory Service, 11 Belgrave Road, London, SW1V 1RB
In cases where a complaint or dispute has not been satisfactorily resolved through the Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure or with the help of TPAS, an application can be made to the Pensions Ombudsman within three years of the event that gave rise to the complaint or dispute. The Ombudsman can investigate and determine any complaint or dispute involving maladministration of the scheme or matters of fact or law and his or her decision is final and binding (unless the case is taken to the appropriate Court on a point of law). Matters where legal proceedings have already started cannot be investigated by the Pensions Ombudsman.
Info and contact details - www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk
The Pensions Ombudsman Service, 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4PU
The Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator has powers to protect members of work-based pension schemes and a wide range of powers to help put matters right, where needed. In extreme cases, the regulator is able to fine trustees or employers, and remove trustees from a scheme.
Info and contact details - www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk
Telephone: 0345 600 0707