Hogan Lovells

Key Dates

26 July 2018


The Deputy Pensions Ombudsman (DPO) has upheld a complaint from the administrator of Mr Y's estate that his employer had reason to bring forward his retirement date and, had it done so, he would have died in retirement and greater death benefits would have been payable.


Mr Y was a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme for Northern Ireland. In late 2012, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. In January 2013, he met Dr Black, a counsellor appointed by Belfast City Council. A follow up email from Dr Black confirmed that he had explained the difference between death in service and death in retirement for pension purposes and the financial implications. He reported he had explained that, if Mr Y's health took a turn for the worse, the Scheme and the Council would "pull out the stops" to provide the best financial option for Mr Y and his family.

On 24 May 2013, Mr Y was recommended by the Council for ill health early retirement, with his 12 week notice period ending on 17 August 2013. Dr Black and Mrs Y spoke at the end of the meeting and Mrs Y was told that if Mr Y died having retired she would be entitled to significantly more than if he died in service. Dr Black said that if Mr Y's condition deteriorated she should inform the Council and request his retirement date to be brought forward.

On 24 July 2013, Mr and Mrs Y were informed that his cancer had spread and was terminal. Later that day Mrs Y telephoned the Council. There were no notes or recording of the call but the DPO found that during the call:

Mr Y died on 14 August 2013, three days before his retirement date. Mrs Y received a death in service grant of £51,540 plus a spouse's pension of £4,139 per year. Had Mr Y retired before his death he would have received a retirement grant of £45,557 and a pension of £6,833. On his death as a pensioner Mrs Y would have received a death grant of £68,092 plus a spouse's pension of £4,139.

Complaint to Ombudsman

Mrs Y complained that the Council should have brought forward Mr Y's retirement so that he would have died as a pensioner.

The DPO found that:

Ombudsman's determination

Date Accessed: 03/12/2021