How to get help if you have a query or complaint

If you're in any doubt about your Local Government Pension Scheme benefit entitlements, or have a problem or question about your scheme membership or benefits, please contact your pension fund administrator.

They'll seek to clarify, or put right, any misunderstandings or inaccuracies as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If your query is about your contribution rate, please contact your employer’s Personnel/HR or Payroll section so they can explain how they've calculated your contribution rate.

If you're still dissatisfied with any decision made in relation to the scheme you have the right to have your complaint independently reviewed under the scheme’s Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure. There are also a number of other regulatory bodies that may be able to help you.

Before appealing through the IDRP process, you may wish to consider discussing a potential complaint with a member of the Pensions Ombudsman’s Early Resolution Team. They can also support you through the process, and you can reach their helpline at: 

Phone: 0800 917 4487 (selecting the relevant option) 
Email: helpline@pensions-ombudsman.org.uk 
 

Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure

We have created guidance for employing and administering authorities around ill health retirement and the Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP). This advice covers active and deferred members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland).

Your pension fund administrator or your employer can supply you with a guide on the Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure (IDRP). They will explain the relevant time limits and give you a form to fill in for Stage 1 appeals.

Stage 1

You should complete the IDRP Stage 1 application form and return it to the person who made the decision that you want to appeal. This must be within 6 months of the letter date. An Appointed Person will consider your complaint and notify you of their decision.

Stage 2

An IDRP Stage 1 decision can be appealed through the IDRP Stage 2 appeals process. This applies when you ask SPPA, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, to investigate your complaint if:

  • you are not satisfied with the Appointed Person’s stage 1 decision
  • you have not received a decision or an interim letter from the Appointed Person, and it is more than two months since you lodged your stage 1 appeal
  • it is one month after the date by which the Appointed Person told you (in an interim letter) that they would give you a decision, and you have still not received that decision or an update advising of a revised date for giving you their decision.
  • If you believe the scheme regulations have not been applied correctly.

Please inform SPPA if any related court or tribunal proceedings have started or if either the Pensions Ombudsman or the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman have started an investigation into the specific dispute.

Medical Appeals 

Information you should include with your application

Where you have received a Stage 1 decision, a copy of the decision letter and most importantly, an explanation of why you are dissatisfied with it should be explained on the appeals form.

 Open Medical IDRP2 Application form

Please include as much supporting evidence as you can - this includes:

  • copies of all relevant information from your GP/Consultant about your medical condition(s), including specialist/consultant reports
  • copies of any DWP awarding letters/medical reports, and
  • any other relevant correspondence.

Please provide a letter from your GP/consultant which sets out the symptoms, procedures undertaken so far and all medications. It would also be helpful to have their expert opinion as to the short and long-term outcomes of this condition.

If you do not have this when completing your application, please request this from your GP/consultant and provide to us once received. Due to current time delays in dealing with the NHS, do not wait for a GP letter prior to sending in your application form. It is important we receive your application form and other supporting information within 6 months of the date of the Stage 1 determination letter.

It is important to note that in most cases, a decision to refuse ill health retirement is unlikely to be overturned unless you can provide additional medical or other evidence i.e. DWP Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Adult Disability Benefit letter, in support of your original application which could and should have been available with the original application. The dispute process is designed to test that decisions have been made properly and have taken account all the appropriate evidence.

Please sign the relevant mandates included with the application pack (an electronic is acceptable). Please note that if someone else is acting on your behalf, we will require the ‘Representative’s Mandate’ to be completed before we can liaise with them on your behalf.

The IDRP Process

An application is only accepted once a fully completed application form is received. This includes any additional evidence that was not presented to either the ‘First Instance Decision-maker’ or the Stage 1 Appointed Person, and the Stage 1 determination letter, if available. 

  1. We will acknowledge receipt of your application at the start of the IDRP Stage 2 process and write to the Stage 1 Appointed Person, requesting the evidence used to determine the outcome at Stage 1 of the IDRP.
  2. SPPA will review the information, to ensure all relevant evidence has been provided and request additional information if required.
  3. We will refer the evidence to our Medical Advisors for their expert opinion.
  4. After considering all the evidence available, the Head of Policy will make a decision and issue the determination letter to the appellant (or their representative), the Stage 1 Appointed Person.

Appeal timescales

The Pensions Regulator expects an appeal to be completed within four calendar months of the application being received. This may take longer if we need to request further information.  If it is not possible to complete your appeal within that time, we will write to you to explain why.

We expect to determine your appeal within two months of receiving all of the relevant information.
 

Appealing the decision

If you do not agree with the outcome of your Stage 2 appeal, the Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) may investigate and determine any complaint or dispute of fact or law in relation to the LGPS that remains unresolved at Stage 2 of the appeals process.

Contact with the Pensions Ombudsman about a complaint needs to be made within three years of when the event(s) you are complaining about happened or, if later, within three years of when you first knew about it (or ought to have known about it).

There is discretion for those time limits to be extended.
 

Non-Medical Appeals 

Information you should include with your application

You should explain your dispute as fully as you can, enclosing copies of any documents you think may be helpful. You should set out why you disagree with the decision taken, and what action you are seeking to put things right. Where you have received a Stage 1 determination letter, a copy of this should be provided with the application form.

 Open Non-Medical IDRP2 Application form

Please sign the relevant mandates included with the application pack (an electronic signature is acceptable). Please note that if someone else is acting on your behalf, we will require the ‘Representative’s Mandate’ to be completed before we can liaise with them on your behalf.

The IDRP Process

An application is only accepted once a fully completed application form is received. This includes any additional evidence that was not presented to either the ‘First Instance Decision-maker’ or the Stage 1 Appointed Person, and the Stage 1 determination letter, if available. 

 

  1. We will acknowledge receipt of your application at the start of the IDRP Stage 2 process and write to the Stage 1 Appointed Person, requesting the evidence used to determine the outcome at Stage 1 of the IDRP.
  2. SPPA will review the information, to ensure all relevant evidence has been provided and request additional information if required.
  3. After considering all the evidence available, the Head of Policy will make a determination and we will issue this to the appellant (or their representative), the Stage 1 Appointed Person and the relevant pension fund for information.

Appeal timescales

The Pensions Regulator expects an appeal to be completed within four calendar months of the application being received. This may take longer if we need to request further information.  If it is not possible to complete your appeal within that time, we will write to you to explain why.

We expect to determine your appeal within two months of receiving all of the relevant information.
 

Appealing the decision

If you do not agree with the outcome of your Stage 2 appeal, the Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) may investigate and determine any complaint or dispute of fact or law in relation to the LGPS that remains unresolved at Stage 2 of the appeals process.

Contact with the Pensions Ombudsman about a complaint needs to be made within three years of when the event(s) you are complaining about happened or, if later, within three years of when you first knew about it (or ought to have known about it).

There is discretion for those time limits to be extended.

 

Key Terms

Appointed Person (AP) 

The appointed person must be independent and must not have been involved in any capacity in the decision against which the member has appealed. 

DS1500 or BASRiS Form 

Replacing the DS1500, the BASRiS form gives confirmation of an individual's terminal illness for the purpose of accessing disability assistance benefits in Scotland. 

Electronic Signature 

A digital or typed signature. First Instance Decision Maker 

The person who makes a formal decision on your initial application. 

IDRP 

Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure - a full review of the original decision. 

Stage 1 Determination Letter 

The letter issued to you by the Appointed Person, confirming the outcome of your IDRP Stage 1 appeal. 

Representatives Mandate

If someone is acting on your behalf, you need to complete part 5 of the application form and we will correspond directly with them.

 

Pensions Ombudsman

If you're not satisfied with the decision by Scottish Ministers, you can refer your complaint to The Pensions Ombudsman, free of charge.

The Pensions Ombudsman deals with complaints and disputes which concern the administration and management of occupational and personal pension schemes. Complaint applications need to be made within three years of when the event occured or, if later, within three years of when you first knew about it (or ought to have known about it). In some cases these time limits may be extended.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can consider complaints which relate to the administrative actions of SPPA, they can't accept complaints which relate to decisions or omissions relating to provisions of pension regulations. You should contact SPSO directly to discuss whether your complaint can be considered.

 

Further information

The Money and Pensions Service