The Local Government Association has received queries about obtaining opinions from Independent Registered Medical Practitioners (I R M Ps) during the current crisis. The Association of Local Authority Medical Advisers (A L A M A), confirmed that ill health applications should continue to progress during the pandemic and published the following statement:
“During the current COVID-19 crisis, it is important to continue to progress ill health retirement applications. It is also particularly important that assessments remain fair and reasonable, and that should include requesting GP and specialist reports as required. There has never been a requirement for these assessments to be face to face, therefore paperwork reviews, with telephone clarification if needed, is the most appropriate way to progress these.
If it is not possible to get reports, an assessment should be based on whether reports are likely to influence your decision further, and whether you have enough objective evidence to make an opinion. Opinions should always be ‘on balance of probability’. There will be times when you simply don’t have sufficient objective evidence to support ill health retirement, and you have been unable to get clinical reports. You should suggest that the applicant requests copies of clinical reports direct from their GP.”
Employers and administering authorities may experience delays in obtaining an I R M P’s opinion in relation to an ill health retirement application or a Tier 3 ill health review. Any such delay could affect the date from which an ill health pension is payable, or the date that a Tier 3 pension is upgraded to Tier 2. To help them make their decisions, employers and administering authorities may wish to ask I R M Ps to include in their report information about any delays due to COVID-19 that have affected the member’s application.