The Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) is governed by regulations and managed by the Department for Education (DfE). Teachers in the TPS who are affected by serious incapacity are entitled to apply for an ill-health retirement benefits pension. They will meet the criteria for ill-health retirement and be awarded an ill-health pension if they have demonstrated by medical evidence that their incapacity is permanent, which means likely to last until normal retirement age. There are two categories of incapacity. If the teacher is permanently unable to teach but can do other work the ill-health pension is based on accrued service only; if they are assessed as totally unable to teach or to take up other employment, they are eligible for enhanced (total incapacity) benefits.
The application form has to be accompanied by medical information. It is passed to the employer to see that all the appropriate medical evidence — for example, from doctors, consultants, or the employee’s own occupational health or medical advisor — has been obtained before it is sent off. If the application does not contain evidence to show permanent incapacity it will be rejected. Although the employer has to support the application, the decision about whether to grant ill-health retirement is made by a medical advisor appointed by the DfE. If total incapacity retirement is granted, it includes enhanced pension benefits provided the application was made within six months of the termination of employment.
In this case, the issue was whether it is the DfE's responsibility to request further medical information if there is insufficient evidence of permanent incapacity and to delay a decision until they have that further evidence.