In the case of Rogers the Pensions Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) rejected a complaint against the decision LLR Group Pension Scheme (the Trustees) and Calsonic Kansei Limited (Calsonic) to initially refuse an application for ill-health early retirement pension benefits. The Ombudsman did partially uphold the complaint in respect to the trustees delay in making their later decision to grant the ill-health retirement pension benefit.
In this case the applicant had applied for early retirement on the grounds of incapacity. The applicant supported his claim with a medical opinion that stated that there were minimal chances of the applicant returning to work if there were no facilities for lighter duties. The trustees rejected the applicant’s initial application and subsequent appeals on the basis that the medical opinion did not indicate that he was “unlikely to work again”. The applicant was offered different duties but in August 2006 refused the offer as he claimed his condition had deteriorated. Calsonic wrote to the trustees in January 2007 reporting that the applicant was unable to return to work in any capacity. The Trustees and Calsonic later offered the applicant ill-health pension backdated to January 2007. They also offered £250 in respect of any distress or inconvenience cause by delays in their reaching this decision.
Amongst other things the applicant argued that the trustees had not been objective in their decision to refuse his original application but had been influenced by the fact that the applicant had proved his employers to be negligent.
The Ombudsman applied the previous cases of Sampson and Others v Hodgson and Others and Edge v Pensions Ombudsman and held that in making their decision on whether to grant the application for ill-health retirement pension the Trustees and Calsonic had followed the well established principles from these two cases. The Ombudsman held that the Trustees had asked themselves the correct question, correctly interpreted the rules and not taken into account irrelevant matters in the decision making process. The decision could also not be said to be perverse in the sense that no reasonable body of trustees could have reached such a decision. This was because the original medical report implied that the applicant was at that point still capable of some work.
The Ombudsman did however recommend that the Trustees and Calsonic consider backdating the ill-health pension to September 2006 as this was shortly after the time when Calsonic had been advised that the applicant was no longer even capable of light duties.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint to the extent delays were admitted by the Trustees and Calsonic. He ordered the trustees and Calsonic to pay the £250 that they had offered the applicant.