Ill Health Early Retirement Benefits (“IHER Benefits”)
We updated you last year of the legal uncertainties relating to the entitlement of certain members to enhanced ill health early retirement benefits (“IHER benefits”) from the Fund. The Trustee has kept members updated on the actions they are taking during the course of the year. As you are aware the Trustee is applying to the High Court for directions over these issues.
As mentioned previously, the Trustee has a neutral position in this case. Therefore, the Trustee has appointed representatives to act in the interests of both the members and the employers and each representative has their own legal team to support them. We wrote on 29 March 2019 to all members to let them know the names of their representatives and their legal team. Both the members’ and employers’ representatives are building their own case on the questions before the Court about IHER benefits and following a detailed process the Court will decide what IHER benefits members might be entitled to.
The Court Case will be heard in November 2020 which is the earliest possible date. Judgment is expected early in 2021. Once the Trustee has received this judgment, it will be better placed to decide what the next steps should be and whether members are entitled to any extra benefits. Depending on the outcome of the case, a further Court process may be required for this purpose. The case should not result in a reduction to the overall value of the total benefits of any members.
If higher or new enhanced IHER benefits are to be paid, it will create additional liabilities for the Fund (which were not reflected in the last valuation). We have informed Participating Employers of this.
As we said last year, it would be helpful if potentially affected members retained any medical history about past health, if they believe they may be entitled to this benefit. The Court will clarify if different categories of members are affected, but we believe this relates to members who had service before 8 October 1993.
The Trustee will continue to keep you informed as this matter develops.