Ill health: case 3

Under the rules of Mr C’s scheme people were entitled to a pension if they left work due to ill health.

“Ill health” had a special meaning. It was defined as being permanently unable to carry out the person’s existing job – or any other job that scheme’s trustees thought was suitable.

Mr C had a mobility problem. This had been with him since birth but had become much worse and prevented him from standing or walking for significant periods of time, both of which his job required.

His job was a skilled one, but he had no formal qualifications. He had only had unskilled work before his current job. He was dismissed on incapacity grounds aged 45.

The scheme’s medical adviser said that he was permanently incapable of carrying out his old job. He also said that he had asked Mr C if he had a computer at home, to which the answer was “yes”.

The adviser told the trustees that Mr C would be able to work in a call centre, at a customer service desk, at a supermarket till or, if he undertook training, using software such as spreadsheets and word processing.

The trustees decided that he did not qualify for a pension because he would be able to carry out work which was suitable for him.

We upheld the complaint because the trustees had apparently not given any thought to why Mr C was suited to the roles that the medical adviser listed and had not explained their conclusions to him.

Being suited to a role was not the same as being physically able to do it. Earning capacity, education and experience were all relevant.  The trustees were required to reconsider their decision.