Analysis comment Exclusive

Partners/dependants of NHS returners lose up to 83% of pension if loved one dies in CV fight

NHS and Dept of Health have made no provision to protect surviving partners – even though age increases risk

Thousands of retired NHS staff have answered the government’s call to return to work in order to fill huge shortfalls in front-line staffing for the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Tories and their NHS leaders are failing the heroes who choose to leave a quiet retirement to return to the firing line in spite of the fact that their age makes them most at risk from the worst complications of the virus.

The government has only just amended pension and tax rules so that returning NHS pensioners won’t lose their pension if they return to work during the crisis – but there is still a gaping hole in the provisions.

One that means that if a returning NHS worker dies of the virus – and remember, older workers are more at risk of the worst consequences of infection – their family will not receive the ‘death in service benefit’ paid to other staff’s families.

And a surviving spouse or dependants will lose as much as 81.25% of their loved one’s NHS pension and receive only a survivor’s portion.

The NHS has issued guidance for returners, informing them of the changes to pension and tax rules – but the final ‘Q&A’ dismissively answers the question of what will happen if a returner dies:

Will staff who retire and return qualify for death in service cover?

The NHS Pension Scheme provides death in service cover to active members who are yet to retire to support a member’s partner and dependents should they die before claiming their benefits. Membership of the NHSPS is voluntary and is available to all staff in the NHS who are yet to retire. Around 90% of staff are active scheme members.

Staff who have recently retired from the NHS Pension Scheme will have already received a tax-free lump sum, but the Department of Health and Social Care is considering proposals to offer further support for those returning to the frontline.

As thousands return to put themselves in the firing line of infection, the government is still only ‘considering proposals’ to support them and keep their families from hardship if they die in the fight against the coronavirus.

And the NHS notes on payments to the bereaved families of NHS workers makes clear just how great the hardship might be.

The NHS has several different pension schemes in operation at the moment – the 1995, 2008 and 2015 schemes, with each one having different provisions.

Each of those schemes offers a pensioner death benefit of:

The lesser of: 5 x pension less pension already paid or
2 x reckonable pay less any retirement lump sum taken

However, the deductions mentioned in those rules mean that a surviving partner or dependants could easily receive no lump sum if their loved one had been retired for more than five years, or had taken a ‘lump sum’ when they retired.

And the rules show that at best – in the ‘1995’ scheme – a surviving partner would lose half of the pension income previously paid to the couple, after the first 3-6 months following their bereavement:

Partners of female NHS employees potentially receive even less because of the 1988 cut-off on the contributions that count toward the pension amount.

But in the 2008 and 2015 schemes, the loss is even worse – the survivor of a member of the 2008 section will lose 62.5% and for the 2015 scheme 66.25%:

The situation for dependent children where there is no surviving spouse is worse still – a loss of up to 83.125%:

These losses would equally apply to the children and partners of other NHS staff who have not yet retired, but at least those families would receive a none-too-generous ‘death in service’ sum as well.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a few days ago that he did not think it was time to discuss a pay rise for nurses. Appallingly, that is not his worst insult to the front-line NHS heroes.

Those who return – knowing their age makes them more likely to die in the fight to save people from the virus – risk depriving their loved ones of the income they could provide for them by just staying at home.

And weeks into that fight, Hancock is still only ‘considering’ whether any extra support or guarantees will be given to them. That must change.

The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.

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  1. I don’t know what you people expect. They’re being applauded…they’re being given first dibs at the supermarkets…their kids are still going to school…Some are getting free taxis and accommodation (dependent on postcode, bit like lifesaving treatment/medicines for the patients)

    And if things get REALLY tough, they’ve got foodbanks to fall back on.

    That’s EXACTLY what they’re thinking right now; but there isn’t one with the bottle to say it, the contemptuous, contemptible shithouses.

    May they all fooking burn for an eternity.

  2. the multi billions £££ r going to the airlines etc. richard branson is scrounging. phillip green is scrounging, mike ashley etc etc. they are keeping their gilded yachts, multimillion properties all over the world and in london and of course the british virgin islands and other tax havens for scrounging tax exiles. the burden of capitalism and the stick on the poor. the befits of socialism for the super rich few and a trillion truckloads of carrots. starmer, johnson, wmd 45 minute tony blair, fominic cummings, believe in socialism… and incentives for the few. the poor need a stick to try harder. one error spotted above. not wmd 45 minute tony blair. that creature has no beliefs other than itself. despots no longer want wmd tony blair. not even hell wants the disgusting oily creature. that’s why it is still in every msm studio. not even hell wants the war criminal tony blair.

  3. If the worst should happen, healthcare professionals deserve to know their families will be looked after

    Our vital workers are putting their lives at risk on the frontline against coronavirus. A compensation scheme would ensure their loved ones have financial support if they die from the virus.

    We are all stunned at the devastation that Covid-19 is wreaking on our society, our way of life and those living within its current limitations. And we are all also in awe of the incredible bravery and commitment being shown by front-line healthcare and other key workers during a time for which no individual could have been prepared.
    Most of the lives that we have lost in the last few weeks due to coronavirus have been extremely unfortunate cases of people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But those doctors, nurses, porters, ambulance staff, social care workers and teachers — all those walking in and out of potentially highly-infected spaces daily, putting themselves on the front line, ready to risk their own life for the next person they see — are placing themselves in harm’s way for the good of us all.
    These incredible people deserve to know that, when they leave their homes on the way to their shifts, the Government has their back.
    So this week, I launched a petition via calling on the Government to create a Coronavirus Compensation Scheme to provide the same level of support to key workers, on the frontline of this battle, that our Armed Forces receive. Recognising the danger that people face, and providing them and those around them with a safety net, in case the absolute worst happens to them in the call of duty, should be part of the social contract. We owe it to them.
    The idea came to me after I was contacted by a radiographer anonymously. They work in a hospital, as does their partner. They have a 9-year-old daughter and no close family. They asked for this as they were worried about what would happen to their daughter if they both succumbed. There are quiet rumblings of some professionals purposefully staying at home for fear of not being protected at work, worrying what would happen to them and to their families if they did go in.
    I don’t blame them. On top of the increased exposure, given the issues with getting adequate PPE and testing rolled out, you can see why people are scared. The very least we could do is to give them a full package that gives them some peace of mind.
    When I launched the petition, which now has over 5,000 signatures, there were no known fatalities in the medical profession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. Sadly that is no longer the case. As the crisis progresses the number will rise, as will the number of frontline professions affected. In addition to the petition, myself and 49 other MPs from across the political spectrum called on the prime minister to implement this change.
    Mirroring the Armed Forces Scheme, we are calling for families to receive:
    A lump sum
    A guaranteed income for their family
    Child payments to eligible children under 18
    And, given the extraordinary nature of the crisis, it should help with funeral costs too.
    This would be in addition to their pension benefits; the death-in-service benefit for NHS workers doesn’t cover them all, notably those returning from retirement or locums. And what about other professions not covered by these benefits? What about the social care workers who we’re asking to not abandon our elderly for fear of their lives, or the teachers in special schools who are struggling to maintain social distancing without protection? They all deserve to know they’d be covered if the worst happens.
    This is a difficult subject to think about, and what I want most of all is that no one would ever have need of this. So let’s implement this scheme now, and then work doubly hard to reduce the numbers of people who would ever need to use it

    Layla Moran

    1. It looks like Momentum members are in revolt and demanding that their voice is heard.

      “Its organisers have vowed to sign up thousands of Momentum members to a petition to launch a trigger ballot on key reforms, and plans to put forward candidates for the national coordinating group.

      Forward Momentum is advocating reforms to give Momentum members a say in key decisions, including in campaign priorities and in relation to candidate slates for internal Labour Party elections.

      The group criticises Momentum for being “too London-centric” and “not sufficiently member-led”. It is calling for a more “inclusive” culture, with a greater focus on organising in workplaces and communities.

    2. my apologies Toffee the above comment was not intended to be connected to your comment.

      1. Yes – I had gathered as much, thanks.


      2. Now I understand JC wants us all to join Forward Momentum
        I wish them every success, if Momentum did not exist someone would 8nvent them
        They were brilliant at what they did, early doors, but we can only guess exactly what fucked them up
        Let’s give it a try
        Begins with an L and ends with ‘off you must fuck’

      3. Doug , already joined ( just ) great idea imo and his name must not be mentioned ( no not voldermort !) indeed is well past his sell by date

      4. I don’t need any information nor help from a tory boy masquerading here as a socialist , now fuck off and stop trying to engage in comment with me

      5. rob – “I don’t need any information nor help from a tory boy”
        Don’t worry, I’m sure everyone appreciates what a big boy you are and that you’d already managed to sign-up all by yourself without any help from a grown up. As you had self evidently managed to find the Forward Momentum site all by yourself the link was obviously intended to inform others not yourself.

        now fuck off and stop trying to engage in comment with me”
        A rather puzzling comment from someone who had just responded in such a positive manner to a thread that I started.

    3. There is a whole bunch of fooking eejits who are regurgitating this shite , dreamt up no doubt by the same trolls who are paid by the nasty party, on FB.

    1. This obvious lack of support for the JC has exposed the fact that the opinions expressed by the Jewish Chronicle are only supported by a small faction within the Jewish community.

      1. SteveH
        Would be interested in what conclusions people took from the article

  4. The good news is that our ‘esteemed’ PM is apparently showing signs of recovery.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “improving” after two nights in intensive care with coronavirus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.
    The chancellor said Mr Johnson was now “sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team”.

    However we shouldn’t rejoice too much just yet because his ‘recovery’ may well turn out to be one of those much reported plateaus that give false hope before it gets much, much worse.

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