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There are two ways in which a firefighter who has suffered ill-health or injury can be provided for. This provision can be made via the Pension scheme (for ill-health) and/or via the Compensation scheme (for injury).
A Firefighter may be considered for an ill-health pension if they:
- are a member of a Firefighters pension scheme for a specific period of time
- have not reached normal pension age for the scheme they are in; and
- leave because of permanent disablement
"Disablement" is defined by the Pension Scheme as meaning "incapacity, occasioned by infirmity of mind or body, for the performance of duty" and "permanent" means that, at the time the question of disablement is considered, it seems likely that the incapacity will be permanent until compulsory retirement age.
If an ill-health pension is awarded, their active member's account and any added pension account would be closed and a retirement account set up.
There are two tiers of ill-health pension which are:
- Lower tier: a minimum of 3 months' qualifying service is required;
- Higher tier: a minimum of 5 years' qualifying service is required.
The medical conditions which have to be met, for entitlement to an ill-health award, are as follows:
for a lower tier ill-health pension, the person must be incapable of performing any of the duties of the role in which last employed, because of incapacity of mind or body which will continue until normal pension age
for a higher tier pension, the person must be entitled to a lower tier ill-health pension and must also, because of incapacity of mind or body which will continue until normal pension age, be incapable of undertaking regular employment. Regular employment means employment for at least 30 hours a week on average over a period of not less than 12 consecutive months, beginning with the date on which the issue of the person's capacity for employment arises
It is the authority that will determine whether a pension can be paid but, to do so, they must first obtain and consider the written opinion of an Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner ("IQMP").
Within 14 days of making a determination of award, the authority must give written notice of it to the person concerned, together with a copy of the medical opinion upon which the determination was based. If dissatisfied with a medical opinion, here or at any subsequent review, a person has a right to seek a reconsideration of that opinion and if still dissatisfied, has a right to appeal to a Board of Medical Referees.
The Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme (England) Order 2006 came into force on 1 April 2006. The costs for the compensation scheme is borne entirely by the Fire Authority.
The Order means that injured firefighters could receive (subject to qualifying conditions) a:
- Non-taxable Injury Pension (minimum income guarantee); and a
- Lump-sum Injury gratuity.
A "qualifying injury" is an injury received on duty, without your own default, in the execution of your duties as a firefighter. An injury is treated as being received by a person without his or her own default unless the injury is wholly or mainly due to the person's "own serious and culpable negligence or misconduct"
There are different scheme rules and levels of cover depending on:
a) whether you are employed as a whole time firefighter or retained firefighter; and
b) the date that you became employed with the fire service or amount of service accrued.
All of the following employees have cover for an injury award, (without being a member of any of the firefighter pension schemes), subject to satisfying the qualifying conditions for eligibility:
- a whole time or part-time firefighter
- a firefighter undertaking retained duties
- a volunteer firefighter;
- other employees of a fire and rescue authority in certain circumstances and at the discretion of the authority;
- a surviving spouse or civil partner or child of the above; and
- a dependent relative of a firefighter at the discretion of the fire and rescue authority.
Cover is also provided for firefighters who are called up for Reserve Forces Service.
Changes have been made to the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the Firefighters Compensation Scheme. These changes come into effect from 1 April 2019 and are explained below:
Surviving Partner’s Pension
The 1992 scheme and the compensation scheme rules on survivors’ pensions have been changed following a legal judgment. This judgment considered the restriction of service within the calculation of the surviving partners’ pension for civil partners and same sex marriage unlawful.
The 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme have been changed to remove the restriction on service from 6 April 1988 used in the calculation of a survivor’s pension to a civil partner or same sex marriage. This change applies retrospectively.
This has the following effect;
If you are a,
- Firefighter member (whether you are active, have left or retired) and
- in a civil partnership or same sex marriage,
you do not need to do anything. The survivor’s pension payable on your death will automatically be calculated based on your full service with no restriction applied.
If you are in receipt of a,
- Firefighters survivor’s pension from the 1992 scheme, and or
- Survivor’s pension from the compensation scheme (under the rules of the compensation scheme,
a survivor’s pension is only paid where the former Firefighter died from the effect of a qualifying injury or of infirmity of mind or body occasioned by a qualifying injury); and were civil partnered or in a same-sex marriage, your pension may have been calculated based on restricted service from 6 April 1988 only. Your pension in payment may need to be recalculated to include the firefighter member’s full service.
If a family member or friend, who has subsequently died was in receipt of a,
- Survivor’s pension from the Firefighters scheme, and or
- Survivor’s pension from the compensation scheme (under the rules of the compensation scheme,
a survivor’s pension is only paid where the former Firefighter died from the effect of a qualifying injury or of infirmity of mind or body occasioned by a qualifying injury) as a result of being in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership with a member of the Firefighters scheme, the pension may have been calculated based on restricted service from 6 April 1988 only.
If you believe that you or someone you know may be affected by these changes you should contact the Pension Scheme Administrator for further information.
The Injury Gratuity
This is calculated based on a percentage of your ‘average pensionable pay’. The percentage is decided according to your degree of disablement determined by the Medical Practitioner and is adjusted to reflect any part-time service you may have worked during your employment.
The injury gratuity is a lump sum assessed according to the degree of disablement as shown in the table below -
Degree of disablement Gratuity
Slight disablement (25% or less) 12.5% of average pensionable pay
Minor disablement (more than 25% but not more than 50%) 25.0% of average pensionable pay
Major disablement (more than 50% but not more than 75%) 37.5% of average pensionable pay
Severe disablement (more than 75%) 50.0% of average pensionable pay
The Injury Pension
This is also based on a percentage of your ‘average pensionable pay’ according to the degree of disablement determined by the medical practitioner and in addition, the amount of service that you have accrued. Similarly, it is pro-rated to reflect any part-time service you may have worked.
The injury pension is designed to ensure that a Firefighter receives a "guaranteed minimum income" according to the severity of the injury and length of service. Consequently, the main sources of income relating to your injury are looked at, i.e. any other pension to which you may be entitled under the Scheme (usually an ill-health pension) and benefits payable by the Department for Work and Pensions ("DWP" - formerly known as the Department of Social Security or "DSS"). If your income from these sources falls short of the guaranteed minimum as set out in the table below, then they are topped up by the appropriate amount, i.e. the injury pension.
The Injury Pension Award is then reduced by the following:
- 75% of your pre commuted annual ill health pension, where applicable, paid as a result of your injury under the FPS 1992 or FPS 2006. If however you have opted out of the FPS 2006, then the percentage deducted is 100%.
- certain state benefits* that you are entitled to from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that relate to the relevant injury.
*NB: The injury pension is an underlying minimum income guarantee which is payable to ‘top up’ any DWP benefits that you may be entitled to, ensuring that an employee receives the determined minimum income level. In some cases, your DWP benefits will exceed the injury pension minimum guarantee, and therefore the injury pension will not be payable. A claim for relevant DWP benefits must be made. If no claim has been made to which a member may be entitled, the maximum rate of benefit must be assumed and deducted in line with the Compensation Scheme Order 2006, unless written confirmation from the DWP is provided to confirm otherwise.
The assessment of the injury pension can be divided into three stages:
Firstly, from the table below assess the amount appropriate to the degree of disablement and years of service. The factors give the level of guaranteed minimum income to be awarded as a percentage of average pensionable pay as a firefighter.
DEGREE OF DISABLEMENT
GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME EXPRESSED AS A PERCENTAGE OF AVERAGE PENSIONABLE PAY
Less than 5 years’ service
5 or more but less than 15 years’ service
15 or more but less than 25 years’ service
25 or more years’ service
(25% or less)
(more than 25% but not more than 50%)
(more than 50% but not more than 75%)
(more than 75%)
Secondly, reduce the guaranteed minimum by three-quarters of any other pension to which there is entitlement under the Pension Scheme, disregarding any reduction in that pension for commutation or allocation or pension sharing (following divorce). The proportion of three quarters is used because it is assumed that the Firefighter will have commuted one quarter (leaving an income of three quarters of pension). If less than one quarter was commuted, it doesn't matter. "Three quarters of pension" is still used for the assessment but the Firefighter ends up receiving slightly more than the guaranteed minimum income level. Where a Firefighter has opted out of the Pension Scheme and becomes entitled to an injury award, the guaranteed minimum income is reduced by the full amount of any other pension which would have been paid had the Firefighter participated fully in the Pension Scheme.
Thirdly, reduce the remainder by the DWP benefits payable as a result of the injury. (DWP benefits changefrom from time to time. Check the current position with your Pensions Administrator).
And there you've got your injury pension. Sometimes the reductions in respect of the other pension and the DWP benefits prove greater than the guaranteed minimum income. In these circumstances, the injury pension would be nil.
Unlike the ill-health pension, the injury pension cannot be commuted but you would have received a lump sum anyway - the injury gratuity.
To access the correct guide, please see below;
- Firefighters compensation scheme 2006 guide (1992) is for those firefighters in continuous employment which commenced before 6 April 2006
- Firefighters compensation scheme 2006 guide (2006) is for those firefighters in employment which commenced on or after 6 April 2006 (and those who have a break in contract on or after 6 April 2006)
- Firefighters compensation scheme guide for retained prior to 6th April 2006 is for those retained firefighters in continuous employment which commenced before 6 April 2006 (calculations based on service as if whole time firefighter - if injured before amendment order April 2014 – calculations since then based on pro-rata service as below)
- Firefighters compensation scheme guide for retained on or after 6th April 2006 is for those retained firefighters in employment which commenced on or after 6 April 2006 (and those who have a break in contract on or after 6 April 2006) - if injured after amendment order April 2014 (calculations based on pro-rata service).