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Injury Benefit Reassessment

The purpose of the reassessment of Injury Benefit (otherwise known as an Injury Pension or Injury Award) is to ensure that the recipient (the Injury Pensioner) receives the correct level of Injury Benefit.

Background

On 26 April 2017 Staffordshire Police began reviews of injury pensioners in accordance with Reg. 37 (1) of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 which places a duty upon the Police Pension Authority (the Chief Constable) to review whether the degree of the disablement has substantially altered. Legal and HR advice was sought before commencing these reviews to ensure that the procedure complies with the regulations and is lawful.

Injury Benefit pensions (commonly known as Injury Awards) are granted to retired officers who have been medically assessed as being between Band 1 (slight disablement) to Band 4 (very severe disablement). By law a review cannot result in an injury pensioner being reduced to less than Band 1 so they are never removed in their entirety and this does not affect their police pension entitlement.
Injury Benefit is only payable after the individual has ceased to be a police officer.  Assessment by the Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) is a separate process to the SMP's assessment for ill health retirement. Injury Benefit is not payable for injuries or medical conditions which are not the result of injuries sustained in the execution of duty.

To date, 42 reviews have been completed with 23 injury pensioners having their Injury Benefit banding levels maintained and a further 19 pensioners having their banding reduced. Of these, two had previously appealed and one is currently pursuing an appeal as is their right in accordance with the regulations. 
The injury pension reviews have not been held in the interests of money saving and no savings are assumed in our forecast budget plans. In fact, the total cost to Staffordshire Police for all 360 injury pensioners amounts to just under £3 million per annum.

Update - November 2018:

In April 2017 Staffordshire Police began reviews of Injury Benefits in line with the relevant regulations which place a duty upon the Chief Constable, acting as the Police Pension Authority for Staffordshire Police, to review whether the degree of the disablement has substantially altered. This is a fair and transparent process which ensures that recipients continue to receive the appropriate level of Injury Benefit - which is paid in addition to the police pension entitlement - and that public money is used most effectively. 

Upon being appointed in June 2017, Chief Constable Gareth Morgan continued with the review after seeking legal and HR guidance to ensure that the process was lawful and compliant with the regulations.  The majority of Injury Benefit recipients have cooperated with the process but despite the best efforts of the force a small number of individuals have repeatedly tried to frustrate the process. Therefore the Chief Constable, acting as the Police Pension Authority in line with the regulations, has been left with no option but to make a determination in relation to these individuals based on the evidence available, with guidance from legal and medical professionals. 

On 26 November Chief Constable Morgan wrote to 19 Injury Benefit recipients to advise them of the outcome of the review of their Injury Pensions. While it is not appropriate to comment on individual cases, we can confirm that two individuals have had their benefits maintained and seventeen have had their Injury Benefit payments reduced in line with the evidence available.

If you have an enquiry about this process please visit the Frequently Asked Question section here. If you can't find the answer to your question click here and fill in the online contact form and a member of the team will get back to you about your specific enquiry.

Click to view:  Police Pensions Board Half Yearly Report 27 02 19 [71KB]
A guide for Selected Medical Practitioners is available for viewing, here [192KB]

The latest progress report is available for viewing, here [152KB]

Factors which can affect the SMP's reassessment

Regulation 37 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 provides that an injury award is only revised if there has been a substantial alteration to the pensioner's disability.  In this, "substantial" has been determined by case law to mean that there must be such a significant alteration to the pensioner's medical condition or overall earning capability that will affect the percentage in that it warrants a move from one band to another.  This can be up or down.

Factors which may affect such a change are:

A substantial deterioration or improvement in the pensioner's overall medical condition 

This can be either the actual qualifying injury giving rise to the award itself or any other medical condition that impacts on the pensioner's overall work capability.  In this respect, if there is no substantial change to the qualifying injury, but a substantial change to the pensioner's overall medical condition, which of itself has a greater impact on earning's capability, this can be taken into account by way of apportionment.  The SMP can take account only of the causes relating to the qualifying injury.  The SMP    cannot introduce into the reassessment any new medical conditions caused by injuries sustained on duty which were not part of the original assessment for an injury award.

A substantial change to the overall earning capability of the pensioner

Notwithstanding there is no identified change to the pensioner's actual medical condition, it is possible for the matter to be assessed with regards to recognised changes in the employment field that may substantially affect their overall earning capacity.  To this end it would be possible to recognise that there are either work, education or training prospects available that were not so previously, or that work possibilities taken into account previously no longer exist.  Either scenario could give rise to a determination that a substantial downgrading or upgrading of the award is possible.  

Age 

The fact that an injury pensioner has now reached State Pension Age no longer means that their award will be reduced automatically to Band 1 (the lowest banding).  The same criteria must be applied as outlined above in all cases. 

Overview of Injury Benefits Reassessments

meeting around table blueThe purpose of the reassessment of Injury Benefit (otherwise known as an Injury Pension or Injury Award) is to ensure that the recipient (the Injury Pensioner) receives the correct level of Injury Benefit. 

The reassessment of the degree of Injury Pensioners' disablement has been decided by Chief Constable for Staffordshire Police. This is so as to ensure as far as possible that an injury pensioner does not continue to be overpaid or underpaid where there has been a substantial alteration in the degree of their disablement.

Injury Benefit is only payable after the individual has ceased to be a police officer.  Assessment by the Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) is a separate process to the SMP's assessment for ill health retirement. 

Injury Benefit is not payable for injuries or medical conditions which are not the result of injuries sustained in the execution of duty.

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