UNISON’s Pensions Unit for Members has been assisting some of our ODP members with Special Class Status (SCS) claims (i.e. the ability to retire from the 1995 Section at 55 with an unreduced pension) and the first of these considered by The Pensions Ombudsman has been upheld! Of greater significance is that the Ombudsman’s formal Opinion determined that NHS Pensions have not been applying their scheme regulations correctly and that NHS Pensions insistence on the need to have a nursing qualification to be a nurse (and hence eligible for SCS) is not supported by the scheme regulations.
Notably the Senior Adjudicator stated the following: “Neither the requirement to hold a nursing qualification, nor the requirement to continuously hold SCS, are mentioned within the Regulations”.
Most ODP SCS claims are rejected by NHS Pensions on the sole grounds that a nursing qualification is not an essential requirement of the ODP role. This decision is hugely welcome in that the Ombudsman will expect NHS Pensions to “consider exactly what type of work was undertaken and whether nursing is included in this” as the relevant criteria for assessing claims and not simply whether a nursing qualification is essential or not.
UNISON is still in the process of considering next steps following this helpful Ombudsman ruling and will provide a further update in due course.
Please note that only members of the 1995 Section with membership prior to the 7 March 1995 can potentially attract SCS.