Early retirement for ill health


If during your time as a teacher, you become ill and are unable to work, you can apply for early retirement for ill health.

This will allow you to access your pension benefits before your normal pension age without the usual reduction applied to an early retirement pension. You will need to have qualified for benefits to be able to qualify for early retirement for ill health.

In this article, we summarise information from Teachers’ Pensions and the Department for Education (DfE) and link to further guidance.

What are the reasons for early retirement for ill health?

Research from the DfE on teachers and early retirement for ill health explains that a range of different medical conditions resulted in ill-health retirement. 

Teachers were most likely to be affected by cancer (23%), mental health conditions (20%) and diseases of the nervous system (19%). A slightly smaller proportion (15%) were affected by musculoskeletal conditions.

The reasons for ill-health retirement varied slightly according to teachers’ characteristics:

  • The reasons were similar between primary and secondary school teachers. However, special school teachers were more likely than other teachers to retire early because of mental health (33%) and musculoskeletal (22%) conditions
  • Female teachers were more likely than male teachers to retire early because of cancer and musculoskeletal conditions, while male teachers were more likely to retire because of mental health conditions and diseases of the nervous system. The gender difference is at odds with the general picture in the population as a whole, where mental health conditions are more likely to be identified among women than men
  • Teachers working full-time were more likely to retire early due to mental health conditions (23% compared with 15% of part-time teachers), while those working part-time were more likely to retire because of diseases of the nervous system (25% compared with 17%).

What should I do if I’m considering early retirement?

Teachers’ Pensions explains when you’re considering applying for ill-health retirement you’ll need to speak with your employer to arrange for occupational health support.

They may be able to find a way to help you remain or return to work. This could either be through reducing your hours or responsibility. 

We have written another support article which provides a summary of occupational health.

If, after speaking with your employer, you still wish to apply for Ill-health retirement you can apply online through the Teachers’ Pensions website.

There’s a lot to consider when taking this type of retirement and you need to make sure you’re making the best decision for you and your family.

You can find more information on ill–health retirement in the Teachers’ Pensions Planning Retirement section. This includes the forms you’ll need for your application.

Even though we are unable to provide financial advice, if you are an Edapt subscriber, we can provide support if you are thinking about taking early retirement due to ill health.

Was this article helpful?

The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.